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Jan 4, 2020; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) signals to the sidelines during the second quarter of a game against the Tennessee Titans at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

By Tony Massarotti, 98.5 The Sports Hub

Many have said it before and many will say it again: on the field and in the arena, Tom Brady is the Michael Jordan of football. But off the field? It’s not even close.

It’s Jordan in a landslide.

This morning, in the sports void that is COVID-19 and nestled between “The Last Dance” and the 2021 Brady documentary “The Man in the Arena,” ESPN (again) debated the power of Jordan versus the power of Brady. Among those asked to opine on the matter was none other than former Patriots defensive end and linebacker Rob Ninkovich, whose verdict may surprise you.

He chose Jordan.

Now, in fairness, it should be noted that Ninkovich grew up in Illinois in the `90s, when Jordan was at his peak. But he also played with Brady. And Ninkovich’s opinion wasn’t based on the winning so much as it was on the cultural impact, an arena in which Brady isn’t remotely close to the top three.

BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 17: New England Patriots player Tom Brady at the grand opening of the TB12 Performance & Recovery Center on September 17, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)

Tom Brady has a long way to go to be in Michael Jordan’s class off the field. (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)

If we’re talking about impact off the field, after all, Jordan has few peers. Tiger Woods, maybe. Or Muhammad Ali. Depending on how far you want to go back, you might be able to add Babe Ruth, though even he’s a stretch. But that’s it. (I’ll take other nominations if you have them.) Jordan, Woods and Ali sent ripples across the entire globe for an assortment of reasons, but their impact is indisputable.

Today, more than 20 years after Jordan left the Chicago Bulls, the Air Jordan sneaker by Nike remains as powerful a brand as Coca-Cola. Even Tiger hasn’t lasted as long with Nike. (And it’s likely no one else ever will.) But for whatever reason, all of this got me wondering whether Brady’s goal with TB12 and 199 Productions (and whatever else he’s dipped into) is to becoming Jordan off the field, too.

Does that make sense?

Often, many have theorized that Brady wants a seventh championship because he wants to eclipse Jordan. That might be so.

But if Tom really wants to be like Mike, where he needs to match him again, is off the field, where Jordan stands atop a very, very large mountain.

And Brady, lest there be any doubt, has a long, long way to climb.

You can hear Tony Massarotti weekdays from 2-6 p.m. EST on the Felger & Massarotti program. Follow him on Twitter @TonyMassarotti.