By Cameron Stuart | Radio Director
Another NFL season has gone by and the song remains the same: Tom Brady is the greatest human being ever created by sperm. I add “by sperm” in deference to my Baptist counterparts at Baylor, but I must say, serving a four-game suspension for a phantom cheating scandal is the closest thing we have seen to someone dying for other people’s sins.
Narrowly beating out contestants such as Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King and my own father, Brady’s status as the greatest human being should seldom be questioned. Since he has climbed the hills of greatest quarterback of all time, greatest football player of all time, and greatest athlete of all time, this was the logical next step for Brady.
Within the confines of a football field, his greatness is simply unparalleled. When measuring how great a player is, it is important to look at two factors: their statistics and their championship pedigree. In a cruel twist of fate for his doubters, Brady will retire at the pinnacle of both factors.
Unlike maybe any player before him, Brady has had two Hall of Fame careers in one. Before 2007, he was a Pro Bowl level-quarterback but a far statistical cry from the consensus best player at the position, Peyton Manning. Unlike Manning, however, Brady had three Super Bowl titles and didn’t lose a playoff game until his fourth trip to the postseason.
The critical split between his two careers would be the 2008 season when he missed the entire year with an ACL tear, but 2007 was unlike any season Brady or any NFL quarterback had ever had. As I said, Manning had the records, the most eye-popping one being his 49 touchdown passes in 2004. Three years later, Brady threw 50, and when Manning’s 2004 Colts had to go on the road in the divisional round (a loss to Brady’s eventual champion Patriots), the 2007 Patriots went to Super Bowl with an 18-0 record. Brady’s team put up the most points in NFL history and left the field in Super Bowl LII with a lead before suffering one of the most massive upsets in sports history. Nonetheless, a quarterback who was called a game manager had become the MVP and he would never look back.
Since then, he has added two more MVP’s, including the NFL’s only unanimous decision in 2010 and being the oldest winner at the tender age of 40 in 2017. He’s had two of the best Super Bowl performances of any player in the history of the sport, torching a generational Seahawks defense for a nearly spotless fourth quarter in 2014 only to pull off a 25-point comeback in the Super Bowl two years later. He has set the Super Bowl completions record three separate times and the passing yards record twice. Even when he loses, he does it with gusto. In three Super Bowl losses, he’s left the field with the lead twice and threw for 505 yards in last year’s loss to the Eagles. Oh yeah, and he now has as many Super Bowl championships as any other team in the NFL.
More impressive than the numbers is the context. I defy you to find one time in Peyton Manning’s career where he didn’t have at least one Hall of Famer or Hall of Fame caliber player on his side of the ball (I’m looking at you Marshall Faulk, Edgerrin James, Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne and Wes Welker). Brady, on the other hand, has Rob Gronkowski, Welker, and just three years of Randy Moss. In fact, the leading receivers on the team for his first three Super Bowl wins were Troy Brown, Deion Branch, and David Givens, according to Pro Football Reference. I will forgive you if you’ve never heard of them.
It is also important to note that the NFL is designed to prevent dynasties like this from happening. Like the NBA and NHL, they have salary caps to limit how much they can pay their players and revenue sharing amongst the teams. The NFL also does not have a draft lottery, meaning whoever has the worst record picks first in the next year’s draft. Also, each team has to play their conference opponents based on their identical standing within their division. Put simply, the Patriots have had to play at least four other first place teams every season for the last decade. The league is built on parity and, yet, Tom Brady has made it look like a parody.
Outside of the lines, Brady is an upstanding man and a role model. Brady’s main charity, Best Buddies, has raised over $20 million for children with special needs by 2017, according to Sports Illustrated. Through his charities and false cheating claims, he has withstood it all with grace and dignity. His own hometown paper, The Boston Globe, wrote a hit piece on how Brady re-allocated his charity earnings to other charities. When he was accused of intentionally deflating footballs in 2015, the claims had so little evidence that the case was laughed out of court. To quickly debunk the two “cheating scandals”: the ideal gas law slightly deflated footballs in a 45-7 win and Brady was only suspended because NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has an absolute tyrannical rule over the league and Spygate was an infraction on where the Patriots’ cameras were, not filming practices or walkthroughs like other teams have falsely claimed.
Super Bowl XLIII and the surrounding festivities showed just how classy Brady really is. During Super Bowl media day, a child reporter asked him how he deals with “the haters”, to which Brady simply responded with, “We love them.” When the Patriots won on Sunday, he deflected all the credit to his teammates, delayed a postgame interview to shake hands with some of the Rams and congratulating the game’s MVP Julian Edelman, and stood on the podium with the Lombardi Trophy in one hand and his young daughter in the other.
Tom Brady has withstood more unreasonable hate and vitriol than any other athlete of the last 50 years and has still come out of it as a philanthropist, a family man, and a champion. He dedicates Super Bowl titles to his ailing mother and recognizes his dad as his hero so he is a little bit like all of us, just better.
Throughout relationships, graduations, career moves, and loss, an entire generation has stuck true to Brady, not the least of whom is me. The only thing I can think of when I think of Tom Brady is “Nobody Does it Better” by Carly Simon. So yes, Tom Brady is the greatest human being ever created, and it sure has a nice ring (or six) to it.