Even before this year’s Super Bowl, many sports fans, particularly those from the Northeast, are proclaiming Tom Brady as the greatest NFL quarterback “of all time.” This is otherwise known as the G.O.A.T. In professional basketball, the near-universal name associated with that designation is Michael Jordan, although Lebron James has steadily been picking up votes for that same accolade. The latter simply has too far to climb, however, to overtake Mr. Jordan’s position.
After having retired from playing professional basketball over 15 years ago (retired, finally, in 2003, after having retired two times previously) the power of Michael Jordan’s name still sells hundreds of thousands of Nike tennis shoes every year (an estimated $2 billion dollars in U.S. sales alone). And Mr. Jordan does not lead in the most statistical categories for the NBA. He does not lead in Most Points (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), Most Rebounds (Wilt Chamberlain), Most Free Throws (Karl Malone), Most Games Played (Derek Fisher), Most Consecutive Games Played (A.C. Green), etc. He does lead, however, in number of NBA Finals MVP’s (6), Number of times leading the league in scoring (10), number of times as 1 st Team All-NBA, number of times as All-NBA in defense (as a guard), the greatest number of blocks by a guard. and several other distinctions (approximately 20 categories in all). Mr. Jordan has the stats to back up G.O.A.T. in pro basketball.
And that’s the point about Mr. Brady. He’s already being deemed the G.O.A.T. while still playing, but without being the records-leader in most of the most important individual stats for quarterbacks in the game. Of course, he’s been to the playoffs and into the Superbowl more than any other quarterback, but Peyton Manning still holds most of the distinctive individual records for quarterback play, including the most career touchdowns, the most season MVPs, the most Pro-bowls as a quarterback, the most career passing yards, the most games during a season throwing 300 yards or more, the most seasons throwing over 5,000 yards, the most wins as a quarterback, the most touchdowns in a game, the most games with a perfect quarterback rating, etc. In all Peyton Manning holds at least 18 career major quarterback records.
So, the question is, how can Mr. Brady logically be called the G.O.A.T. in terms of the quarterback position in the NFL? In fact, he can only be designated that by those who want life to be the way they see it, as opposed to the way it really is. Unlike Michael Jordan, Mr. Brady’s record is not yet strong enough (and he’s already over 40 years old, an ancient age for big league quarterbacks) to be put in that rarefied category. Perhaps he will break a few of Mr. Manning’s records in the next season or two that he will be an NFL quarterback, but to be called the G.O.A.T. when it is Peyton Manning’s records which sit atop the record books is a travesty.
Mr. Brady’s major accomplishment may just be that he has been fortunate enough—and talented enough—to have played for one of the very best coaches in league history, Bill Belichick. Mr. Brady, for his part, has performed his assigned tasks well as part of an overall team strategy, and the N.E. Patriots have won a lot of ball games. But G.O.A.T.? Uh-uh. That’s a figment of imagination.
Let’s just be real.
Professor David L. Horne is founder and executive director of PAPPEI, the Pan African Public Policy and Ethical Institute, which is a new 501(c)(3) pending community-based organization or non-governmental organization (NGO). It is the stepparent organization for the California Black Think Tank which still operates and which meets every fourth Friday.