I want to start this by answering the question succinctly and in one word. The answer to the question posed in the title of this article is simple, the answer is no. If the Buccaneers lose on Sunday, Tom Brady cannot be considered the greatest quarterback of all time. The reason for that is equally as simple. He’s not the greatest quarterback of all time, because he’s more than that. He’s already, before one second ticks off the clock of Super Bowl LV, the greatest athlete of all time. Period.
The level of accomplishment achieved by Tom Brady is simply unparalleled in American sports. When he first entered a game against the Jets in 2001 in relief of an injured Drew Bledsoe, Tom Brady was best known as a guy who couldn’t hold off Drew Henson at Michigan. All he did after that point was lead the Patriots to a Super Bowl title over the St. Louis Rams and “The Greatest Show on Turf”.
From that point on, Tom Brady proceeded to win five more Super Bowls. Think about that for a second. The man has already won six Super Bowls. Now, for a long period of time, there was a debate amongst some about whether Tom Brady or Bill Belichick was more responsible for those championships. Some people even went as far as to say that Brady was a “system quartberack”.
But then this year happens. Brady leaves and goes to Tampa Bay. The team with the lowest winning percentage in all of North American team sports. Not only does he go there, but then a pandemic breaks out. He doesn’t get mini-camps. He barely gets a training camp. There is no pre-season. So with all that happening, he comes into a new team, with new players, and new coaches, and wins double digit games and goes back to the playoffs.
For most that would be a good season. Not for Tom Brady. No, he goes on the road against Washington and gets a win in Wild Card weekend, which is a place he is not used to appearing. Then all he does is defeat Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers to advance to his tenth Super Bowl.
All of these accomplishments are incredible. There can be no argument about that. However, the most impressive thing about Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr.is his single minded focus and determination to win. Most people, let alone athletes, when they achieve high levels of success, start to diversify their interests. They want to spend more time with family and friends. They want to travel. They develop philanthropic interests. They get mildly distracted by the fruits of their success. Not Brady. The man lives in a 22,000 square foot house and still had his family leave for twelve days leading up to this Super Bowl because he is simply not willing to risk a distraction. It is that single-mindedness that makes Tom Brady who he is.
And who he is, is the greatest athlete in American history. That will not change with a win or loss on Sunday. This season is already one of his greatest accomplishments based on all the obstacles that had to be overcome just to reach this point. I think Brady will win, because that is what he does better than anyone else in sports. His mental toughness is in the category of Michael Jordan and really, nobody else. But even Jordan didn’t leave Chicago and go win elsewhere. He only won with Phil Jackson. This is Brady’s chance to win without Belichick and I think he relishes every second of it.
This Super Bowl could be a cherry on top of an outstanding career, but the reality is that the sundae has already been made and it is incredible. Win or lose, Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback of all time, the greatest football player of all time, and the greatest athlete of all time. Period.