COMMENTARY: Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback ever. Case closed.

Seven Super Bowl appearances. Five Super Bowl rings.

By Andrew Campbell (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

John Ferraro, Sports Editor

When you can put Super Bowl rings on all four fingers and your thumb, you must have done something right.

Tom Brady was the 199th pick in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft. This past weekend, he won his fifth Super Bowl.

In the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history, the Patriots battled back from a 21-3 deficit at halftime, a hole that deepened to 28-3 in the third quarter.

Hope seemed to be lost in the hearts of New England fans as the Atlanta Falcons looked like they were going to embarrass the Patriot Dynasty and capture their first Lombardi Trophy.

When New England cut the lead to 19 heading into the fourth, the idea of a miracle comeback still seemed like an afterthought. The largest comeback in Super Bowl history had been 10 points, according to ESPN Stats and Information. The Pats shattered that record.

Brady faced relentless pressure from Atlanta’s defense all night long. The Falcons sacked Brady five times for 24 yards in losses, as well as knocking him down and pressuring him several times more.

But then something happened. Momentum shifted. The Pats’ #1 ranked defense woke up. The offensive line started to gel. And worst of all for Falcons fans and Patriots haters alike, Tom Brady took advantage.

Brady finished with a Super Bowl record 466 passing yards, completing 43 passes on the night to players like White, Edelman, Amendola and Hogan. Yes, all are very solid to good receivers, but no Julio Jones to speak of in that group.

Sure, Brady had a little luck with Julian Edelman’s ridiculous, how-did-he-catch-that, juggling-act grab. However, I think the “Super Bowl Gods” owe him one for the famous David Tyree “Helmet Catch” in 2008 and Mario Manningham’s fantastic toe-tapping catch down the sidelines four years later denied him two more titles.

Brady stayed calm, surveyed the field with poise, delivered with precision, and continued to crush the hearts of Atlanta’s faithful time and time and time again. Heading into overtime tied at 28, the Patriots won the toss and sealed the deal.

Tom Terrific drove the Pats 75 yards, completing five passes for 50 yards. A pass interference call set up the Pats at the two yard-line and the rest is history. Brady won the Super Bowl MVP award for the fourth time in his career, topping Joe Montana for most all-time.

If that comeback and those Lombardi trophies aren’t enough for you, Brady has accomplished so much more.

It’s more than just the numbers. Brady has durability and consistency on his side.
Brady only missed one full season, 2008, with a torn ACL. In the other 15 seasons he has played, he started all but two games. Not a lot of quarterbacks can say that.

While playing all that time for one organization, Brady never had a losing record. The worst record for a Brady-led team over that stretch, 9-7. In 10 of those 15 seasons, the Patriots won 12 games or more.

The only two times his team missed the playoffs were in 2002 and 2008, the year Brady got injured. It’s remarkable that in a league where the salary cap can force roster changes every year, a quarterback can have sustained success with so many different teammates.

The argument against Brady is three-fold. One, he and his team cheat. Two, he’s a product of Bill Belichick’s system. And three, the rule changes have blown his numbers out of proportion.

First, the “Deflategate” investigation was inconclusive. The findings of “more probable than not” don’t work for me. “Spygate” on the other hand, cannot be defended. What I will say is that many teams and players alike bend the rules to gain advantages.

For example, Jerry Rice admitted he used the NFL-banned substance “stickum” to make it easier to catch the football. He quoted in a tweet from February 2015 that “all players did it” using the #equalplayingfield.

Second, saying Brady is a system-quarterback would be a valid counterargument if he didn’t have five rings. Yes, Brady benefits from having an outstanding defensive-minded head coach. But he needed to make at least a few big plays to win those Super Bowl games.

And lastly, the rule changes, similar to the NBA, have opened up offenses to put up some ridiculous numbers. Look at this year’s NFL MVP Matt Ryan and his offense that averaged over 33 points per game. I think Brady could have played in any era no matter the rules, schemes, defenses, etc.

The rise of Tom Brady has been a joy to watch for football fans in and around the New England area. When Brady retires, though, fans around the country are going to wish they stopped the debates, subsequent hatred of consistent winning, and just enjoyed the greatest to ever play the position at work.

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Twitter: @JohnFerraro21