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Tom Brady, G.O.A.T.–if all-time is limited to the 21st Century (and even then maybe not)

For those who have been living under a rock the last 40 hours, Tom Brady won another Super Bowl Sunday. 

He engineered the largest comeback in Super Bowl history, with the Patriots turning a 28-3 deficit to the Falcons into a 34-28 overtime victory in the first Super Bowl to go into overtime. 

Brady won his fifth Super Bowl as the Patriots’ starting quarterback, breaking a tie with Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana, who won four each with the Steelers and 49ers, repetitively. 

It did not take six seconds after James White scored the winning touchdown for people all over the Internet, both media and ordinary fans, to declare Thomas John Brady the greatest of all-time. Some not only said Brady was the greatest quarterback of all-time, but the greatest player to ever grace the Natoinal Football League, period. 

Brady has won more Super Bowls than any other starting quarterback. That fact is incontrovertible.

I do not worship at the altar of Tom Brady. No way. 

I refuse to call Brady the greatest of all-time. This has nothing to do with his role in Deflategate, the fact he abandoned a pregnant Bridget Moynihan so he could cavort with Gisele, the fact that Bill Belichick is a complete asshole.

The reason I refuse to call Brady the greatest of all time is because he plays in an NFL where the rules are heavily tilted towards the offense. 

American sports fans want scoring in their games. That’s why basketball is wildly popular in the United States, yet it lags far, far behind in many other countries, especially those in Europe and Africa. That’s why the version of football with the round ball–the one called soccer in the United States and Canada–has never fully caught on in the U.S. and Canada, despite the presence of Major League Soccer. 

In the first eight years of the 1970s, scoring in the NFL declined precipitously. Defenses were becoming more and more complex, with coaches rigging up zone defenses which were more than wiling to give up the underneath pass, but deny anything medium to long. Another rule which hindered the passing game was the bump and run, which allowed defenders to hit receivers anywhere on the field, just as long as it was from the front, and it did not occur while the pass was in the air. 

In 1978, the NFL rules makers decided to change the rules drastically to help the passing game. Bump and run coverage was limited to within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage. Pass interference was to be called if there was any contact beyond five yards. Offensive linemen were allowed to use open hands and extended arms to pass block, a far cry from the previous rule, which forced linemen to keep the arms close to their chest and use their head and other parts of their body. The head slap, which Deacon Jones made famous when he was part of the Rams’ Fearsome Foursome in the ’60s,  was outlawed.

Dan Fouts of the Chargers immediately began to take advantage, piloting “Air Coryell” to numerous NFL records, although San Diego never made it to the Super Bowl. Joe Montana came along and mastered Bill Walsh’s West Coast offense, leading the 49ers from 2-14 in 1978 and ’79 to the Super Bowl XVI championship in ’81. Dan Marino became the first quarterback to throw for 5,000 yards in 1984. John Elway used his mobility and strong arm to lead the Broncos to three AFC championships in the 1980s. 

More and more, the rules have been geared towards the passing game, and a team is said to have “balance” when they “only” throw the ball 55 to 60 percent of the time. The running game has been replaced by dink-and-dunk passes, passes Johnny Unitas, Joe Namath, Fran Tarkenton and other Hall of Fame quarterbacks would never have dreamed of using. 

There is my problem with Brady. 

The Patriots have never had a strong running game during his time in New England. Brady has substituted the short pass for the run, and rang up high completion percentages that way. 

I am not sure Brady would hold up if he had to play under the rules Unitas and his contemporaries had to deal with. I would like to see him throw to receivers who are being covered tighter than a glove. 

Another reason as to why Brady keeps getting called the greatest of all time is people have a very short memory. 

Read some books. Do some research. You’ll find there are many, many quarterbacks who measure up to Brady and then some. 

For my money, Brady might not even be the best QB of the 21st century. I’d have to put Peyton Manning right up there. 

I realize many people are going to hate me for this. Too bad. 

Done before noon

I stayed until almost 10 last night, playing through the final round of Buzztime Countdown for the evening. Tori didn’t have any customers at the bar besides me for the last 30 minutes I was there.

I finished fourth nationally in The Pulse last night, but missed first by less than 300 points. I have now finished in the top nine for 16 consecutive rounds, 15 of those in the top five.

My mother sent me a terse text saying my father came through the surgery alright. She doesn’t know how to text and I don’t expect her to learn. She doesn’t like to carry a cell phone in the first place. I’m sure they’ll call today at some point.

Ethan Hoyle got me hooked on Trivia Crack for the iPhone. He had me play a game for him on his phone, which I won, so I downloaded it myself. It will be a good diversion when I can’t get to Buffalo Wild Wings or another location to play trivia.

I did a little more writing in the wee hours, getting Plainville and Ellis out of the way. I fell asleep at 3:15 and didn’t fully get up until 7:45, but I had the bulk of my work done, so it didn’t take me long to finish.

By 10:45, I was showered and ready to go to Buffalo Wild Wings. Lisa is behind the bar this morning. She’s very happy to see me, and I was ecstatic to see her. She loved her birthday swag.

I just played my first round of Buzztime for the morning. Didn’t get the first one, but got the next six to finish with 6,261 out of 7,000 possible (the games from 11 to 2 are only seven questions).

Super Bowl factoid: only one Super Bowl has been held on January 27. Many call it the best Super Bowl ever played. I think it’s highly overrated.

Super Bowl XXV was the first of four conescutive trips to the championship game for the Buffalo Bills. Their opponent, the New York Giants, won Super Bowl XXV four years prior.

Most of the experts predicted the Bills would win. More than a few predicted a rout. Buffalo was fresh off a 51-3 destruction of the Raiders at home in the AFC championship game, while the Giants had to travel across the country for the NFC championship game, where they won an exhausting battle against the two-time champion 49ers, 15-13. Immediately after the game in San Francisco, the Giants flew straight to Tampa, since there was no week off between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl.

My 14-year old brain differed greatly from the experts. The Giants, even without starting quarterback Phil Simms, who suffered season-ending foot injury in a regular season loss to the Bills in December, had the better team. It was not close on defense. Even though Buffalo had the best defensive end in football in 1990, Bruce Smith, New York had far more talent on that side of the ball, led by Lawrence Taylor, Carl Banks and Leonard Marshall. I also thought the Giants had a strong enough offensive line and ground attack to push the Bills around and keep Jim Kelly and Buffalo’s no-huddle offense off the field.

The Giants controlled the ball for 40 minutes, overcoming a 12-3 second quarter deficit. Buffalo had one last chance to win, but Scott Norwood’s 47-yard field goal attempt with five seconds left sailed wide right, allowing New York to escape with a 20-19 victory.

There was another Super Bowl which was originally scheduled for January 27, but it didn’t come to pass.

Super Bowl XXXVI, the Rams-Patriots game in New Orleans, was originally scheduled for January 27, 2002, but due to the September 11 terrorist attacks, the NFL postponed its week two games and pushed back the end of the regular season to January 6. The NFL did not want to compress its playoff schedule, and since it did not schedule a week off between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl, there was no way they could hold the game January 27 with the new schedule

The NFL rescheduled the Super Bowl for February 3, the first time any game other than the Pro Bowl would be played in February.

At first, it didn’t appear New Orleans would be able to host the Super Bowl on the new date. The weekend of February 1-3 was the first weekend of Carnival parades in the Big Easy, and the National Automobile Dealers Association scheduled its convention that weekend, and had booked nearly all of the prime hotel rooms.

To keep the Super Bowl in the Superdome, the NFL paid a hefty fee to the NADA to move its convention, and the Carnival parades were rescheduled to the weekend of January 25-27, the original weekend for the Super Bowl.

For those who weren’t old enough to watch Super Bowl XXXVI, or those who don’t know their football history, Tom Brady became a household name that day by leading a perfect two-minute drill which ended in Adam Vinatieri’s game-winning 48-yard field goal on the final play, which lifted the Patriots to an improbable 20-17 victory over a Rams team which won Super Bowl XXXIV two years prior and was called “The Greatest Show on Turf”.

Kurt Warner, the former Hy-Vee stocker who rose to superstardom when he led the Rams to the 1999 championship, would get back to the Super Bowl seven years after the loss to Brady and New England. Only this time, he would be wearing vastly different colors than the Rams’ blue and gold.