Is Tom Brady the best team sport athlete?

Is Tom Brady the best team sport athlete?
February 15
03:00 2018

Tom Brady and the New England Patriots lost a heartbreaker of a Super Bowl to the Philadelphia Eagles on Feb. 4.  This marks the eighth time Brady has appeared in a Super Bowl.  With his five wins and three losses in the big game, Brady is heralded for his success on the gridiron and is widely regarded as the best to ever play his position.  But is this really the case?

I routinely watch sports debate shows and recently I have seen many conversations revolving around Brady being the best team sports athlete of all-time.  Brady has a legit claim as being the most accomplished athlete in team sports history but definitely not the best team sports athlete.  Plus it does not hurt that he has the best head coach in the history of the NFL in Bill Belichick on the sideline.

To me one has to clearly define what they mean when they say “the best” because that phrase can be rather ambiguous.  To be considered “the best” you need to have the championships, overall talent and hall of fame credentials among other things.

Brady is one of the all-time greats to ever play the quarterback position but let us not forget that both Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana are both 4-0 in the Super Bowl.  On top of that Montana has 11 touchdowns with no interceptions and three MVP’s in the Super Bowl as well.

I mention that primarily because when Lebron James is compared to Michael Jordan the argument most used to prove Jordan’s superiority is the fact he is 6-0 in the NBA Finals versus Lebron having a 3-5 record. 

James has been to the NBA Finals for the last seven years yet his failures in the Finals are looked upon as a negative when just getting there that many times in a row is a tremendous feat in and of itself.  If Brady were to make it to seven consecutive Super Bowls, he would most definitely be looked at as the best quarterback ever to play.

We could have an entire different conversation about why Brady and Lebron are looked upon differently when we all know they are among the best to ever play their respective sports but I’ll just keep it centered on the current narrative.

Going beyond the game of football the person most often considered the greatest team sport athlete is Bill Russell of the Boston Celtics dynasty during the 1950s and ’60s.  Russell won 11 championships in 13 seasons as a player.  Those number will likely never be match by anyone is major professional sports ever again.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s credentials are not too shabby, also.  He has six titles, was a 19-time All-Star and 15 time All-NBA selection.  Jabbar is best known for his trademark “skyhook” shot, which catapulted him to the top of the list as the leading scorer in NBA history.

Joe DiMaggio and Lou Gehrig boasts some lofty numbers in the game of baseball.  With Gehrig’s eight titles and DiMaggio’s nine, the Yankee greats are among the best in team sports history as well. 

Derek Jeter, Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant and Wayne Gretzky are all excellent examples of candidates of greatest team sport athletes not only due to their championships but the intangibles they brought to their respective teams.

I could go on naming players and their accomplishments for another two pages but we all get the point.  It is just hard to understand why people are so quick to mount Brady atop the list as the best team sport athlete of all-time when he isn’t even the best to ever play his position.

Admittedly he is the most accomplished quarterback in NFL history with eight Super Bowl appearances but let’s not forget he was essentially a game manager in their first Super Bowl win against the St. Louis Rams.  He also missed crucial throws in crunch time in their two Super Bowl losses against the New York Giants.

I by no means want to diminish what Brady has accomplished but he has a way to go before we can start throwing around certain claims about his place in history.  I just think we need to give the great athletes their proper respect and once Brady’s career is over when can then evaluate where he lies in the pantheon of the all-time greats that has ever played.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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