Whether You Like It Or Not, Tom Brady Is A Legend

Recently, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell upheld New England Patriots QB Tom Brady’s four game suspension, which he received for his alleged involvement in January's "Deflategate." The ongoing debacle has cast a dark cloud over the NFL legend, leading to an outpouring of criticism from fans and critics who say he’s a cheater and that he lacks integrity. But, is it really that bad? Or are people just blowing this whole issue completely out of proportion? Brady may have a few blemishes on his record, but the positives far outweigh the negatives. I’m here to tell you that he’s still one of the best quarterbacks of all time, because, like it or not, he is. 


“He’s a cheater! He’ll never make the Hall of Fame!” 


Did you know that wide receiver Jerry Rice, who happens to be in the Hall of Fame, openly admitted to using stickum in his career? Stickum is a sticky substance that you put on your gloves to make the football easier to catch. It became illegal in 1981, four years before Rice was drafted. Despite this, he is still widely considered to be the greatest wide receiver of all time. By the way Jerry, didn't you call out the Patriots for cheating, even though you cheated yourself?


Moreover, Brad Johnson, quarterback of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during their 2003 Super Bowl victory, admitted to paying people to tamper with footballs during the game! Why is there no outcry over that? Is it because Brad Johnson is not a future Hall of Famer? Oh, it is? Okay, gotcha. 

And then of course, there’s ‘Spygate,’ the controversial event that pitted the Patriots against the world. They were despised by fans of pretty much every NFL team but their own. But what a lot of people did not (and probably still don’t) know was that the Patriots were not the only team who tried to steal signals from other teams (allegedly, of course). Former Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Bill Cowher has said that everyone tried to steal signals. 

Before you think I’m condoning Brady’s cheating (that is, if he actually did it), I’m not. Past injustices obviously do not make present ones okay. But the NFL is not the bastion of integrity that many people want it to be. People in the league have been trying to gain competitive advantages for years, and will for many years to come. If you think Brady and the Patriots are the only ones trying to do that, then I ask you to please open your eyes. 

This isn’t just about Brady’s “cheating” though. He was one of the league's most scrutinized quarterbacks ever, even before deflategate. Let’s take a look at what Brady critics and pundits constantly say about him.   


“He’s a system quarterback! The fact that the Patriots went 11-5 in 2008 without him proves that!” 

It proves that Bill Belichick is a great head coach. The fact that they went 11-5 with Matt Cassel, of all people, as their starting quarterback is a testament to Belichick’s coaching. However, the fact remains that Brady was injured for most of the season and, without him, the Patriots missed the playoffs for the first time since 2002. Had Brady not been injured, there’s a very good chance that the Patriots would have made the playoffs and perhaps have even made a Super Bowl run. 

When people say that Brady is a system quarterback, what exactly do they mean? Brady has had to deal with three different offensive coordinators in his professional career and he has flourished under all three of them. Let’s face it though, Tom Brady is basically an offensive coordinator himself. 

Look, even if Tom Brady is a product of New England’s system, he’s obviously by far their best product. Let’s take a look at the things that Tom Brady has accomplished as a “system” quarterback: 

  • First quarterback in NFL history to lead his team a 16-0 regular season 

  • First quarterback to lead his team to 12 division titles     

  • First quarterback to throw 50 touchdown passes in a season   

  • Most career playoff wins (21) 

  • Most consecutive playoff wins (10) 

  • Most career playoff touchdown passes (53) 

  • Most career playoff passes completed (683) 

  • Most career Super Bowl touchdown passes (13) 

  • Most passes completed in a Super Bowl (37) 

  • Most Super Bowl appearances (6, several players) 

  • Most Super Bowl victories by a starting quarterback(4, tied with Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw

  • Most Super Bowl MVPs (3, tied with Montana)  

Tom Brady has accomplished all of that as a “system”quarterback. Not bad.  


“He should thank Adam Vinatieri for his first three rings!” 

And Adam Vinatieri should thank Tom Brady for driving the team down the field and giving him field position good enough to kick those field goals. People act like Vinatieri did literally everything for the Patriots. According to their logic, he was not only the kicker, but he was also the quarterback, a defensive tackle, a wide receiver, and the running back. Without Tom Brady, Vinatieri would have never been in a position to kick those field goals. Brady did his part and Vinatieri did his. Football is a team sport.   


“Well if Pete Carroll hadn’t made the dumbest play call ever, the Seahawks would have won the Super Bowl! They gave that game away!” 

First of all, no they did not. I was under the impression that in order to give a game away, you actually have to have the lead and the Seahawks did not have the lead. Tom Brady did his job (like Belichick says, “Do your job”). He led his team from down 10 points in the fourth quarter to an eventual 28-24 victory. Before, no team had ever overcome a 10-point fourth quarter deficit in the Super Bowl. Watching the game, for a moment I thought Seattle was going to run away with a blowout victory. They were up 24-14 and seemed to be on their way to a second straight dominating Super Bowl victory. But I forgot that Tom Brady is, well, Tom Brady. He’s one of the clutchest quarterbacks of all time and that fourth-quarter comeback solidifies that. 

As for that actual play call, many people, myself included, wondered why Carroll chose not to give the ball to one of the best running backs in the NFL. Even as someone actively rooting aganst the Seahawks, I was absolutely furious with Carroll. 

“You have Marshawn Lynch, one of the best running backs in the game, and you don’t hand him the ball??? What the heck is wrong with you???” 

But later on, I learned that the call itself wasn’t bad, even if the result was. Had the call actually worked, everyone would be calling Carroll a genius for catching the Patriots off-guard. Instead, it backfired in the absolute worst way and Carroll had to suffer an intense backlash of criticism. 

People believe that if Lynch was handed the ball, it would have been an automatic victory for Seattle. But that might not have been the case. Did you know that Lynch, despite being one of the best running backstoday, had terrible goal line stats? In 2014, he only scored one touchdown in five attempts from the 1-yard line. So it was not a given that handing the ball to Lynch would have automatically secured a Super Bowl victory for Seattle. Maybe it would have. But the numbers suggest it most likely wouldn’t have.   

I know what you’re thinking. “This writer is obviously a biased Tom Brady fan.” I am here to tell you that I am not a Tom Brady fan. In fact, I used to hate him. But now, I’ve come to respect to him. Like SQ member Max Holm noted in his great article about LeBron James, holding on to a negative emotion eventually becomes a waste of time. 


How many quarterbacks can say that they were drafted as late as Brady was (the 6th round) and have had the success he has? It’s an incredible underdog story that’s impossible to not respect. Stealing signals and letting air out of footballs does not lead to records and championships. Raw talent and hard work do and Brady has the former and has put in the latter. No matter what competitive advantage you try to gain, you still have to have the talent and put in the work. 

I am not saying that you have to like Tom Brady. You can still hate him. But I am asking that you look past your hate and recognize that you’re lucky to watch him play. You may call him a cheater. History will call him one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game. Whether you like it or not, Tom Brady is a legend and when he retires, the NFL will not be the same. 


(Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)


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