By Tony Massarotti, 98.5 The Sports Hub
What he is now, without qualifiers or exceptions, is rather straightforward: Tom Brady is the greatest winner in the history of team sports.
But before someone tries to take that and spawn it into some overused, trite, hackneyed acronym, stop. Don’t trivialize it into something you can send with a four-letter text or, worse, an emoji. It’s just not that simple. After leading the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the Super Bowl championship over the Kansas City Chiefs last night, Brady now has seven championships – one more than Michael Jordan, four fewer than Bill Russell. But those men played basketball, a sport vulnerable to the brilliance of one, particularly when that player never really needs to leave the floor.
But football? Football is different. Football is designed precisely to prevent this sort of dominance, whether you’re 23 or 43. At 25, Patrick Mahomes is currently the best player in the NFL, already a Super Bowl champion himself, the best player on a Kansas City roster that has been the best team in football over the last two seasons. That has not changed. But Mahomes and the Chiefs were nonetheless mauled last night while Mahomes played the worst postseason game of his career. Mahomes is now 6-2 in his playoff career, 0-2 against Brady and 6-0 against everyone else.
By all accounts, Mahomes is a winner. But next to Brady, at the moment, he is nothing more than another hollow carcass, someone who has no real chance of stacking up over the long haul because no other quarterback does.
Joe Montana? Brady hasn’t just beaten him now. He‘s nearly lapped him. Ditto for Terry Bradshaw. Brady has now won more than twice as many titles as Troy Aikman. He has been to twice as many Super Bowls as John Elway. He has nearly double the Super Bowl titles of Peyton and Eli Manning combined. And if the Mannings invited Ben Roethlisberger to dinner, they could commiserate about how Brady still has them topped, 7-6.
Brady has so outdistanced the field in football that we’re now comparing him to basketball players, for goodness sake, which is a joke. Brady’s task has been infinitely harder. With all due respect to a list of Montreal Canadiens headed by Henri Richard – who won 11 Stanley Cups – the world and the competition just weren’t the same 50-60 years ago, and proprietary rules stacked the NHL talent pool in Montreal’s favor.
When you get right down to it, there isn’t anybody in any team sport who has had a more profound impact on winning than Brady.
And so, as much as last night’s Tampa Bay victory was about Brady and Bill Belichick here in Boston – and it was – even Belichick now seems dwarfed thanks to the events of the last year.
Brady left New England, after all. He went to, of all places, Tampa Bay. A pandemic smothered the entire transitional process. He turned 43. A little more than two months ago, the Bucs were 7-5 and seemed like nothing more than an NFL also-ran, at which point they did what Brady and his teams have done for the best part of this millennium, in good times and, especially, bad.
And lined up behind Tom Brady, the Bucs learned to win.