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Is Tom Brady Now the Greatest Athlete of Our Generation?

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New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, the game's MVP, faces a throng of reporters and photographers on the field after his team's Super Bowl XLIX victory.

I was standing for six minutes after the Super Bowl ended. That was exhausting.

The emotional swing from Jermaine Kearse’s amazing catch:



seahawks-get-lucky-super-bowl

to Malcolm Butler’s amazinger interception:

malcolm-butler-intercepts-russell-wilson-super-bowl

was too much to handle. I could only imagine what that was like for a Seahawks fan.

Thankfully I’m a Detroit Lions fan, so my emotions only swing from “Man, we suck.” to “I wonder how they’ll ruin this.” It’s actually freeing.

Anyway, after I collected myself, I joined the debate in the room…

Who is the Best Quarterback Ever?

I happened to agree that Tom Brady cemented his place atop that mountain, besting Joe Montana on Sunday. My argument came down to two things:

First, both guys have four Super Bowl rings, though Brady has played in the game six times. I think four out of six is better than four out of four. Getting there six times is damned impressive.

My second argument is the Tim Duncan Theory.

Basically, by winning Super Bowls thirteen years apart and remaining elite the entire time you have to rate Brady in the top spot of his position. Duncan did the same last June, topping the Miami Heat for NBA championships 15(!) years apart.

So which accomplishment is more impressive?

This is tricky.

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Duncan ceded the reigns to the Spurs at some point in the past few years. Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker have taken larger shares of the offensive (and defensive in Leonard’s case) responsibility. Plus, Leonard was the Finals MVP this past year.

On the other hand, though Brady was effective in leading the offense in Sunday’s Super Bowl, his legacy was ultimately cemented by Malcolm Butler, a guy no one heard of until he made the clinching play at the end of the game.

I’ll give the edge to Brady since he was better at what he could control, while acknowledging that I wouldn’t be writing this post if Seattle had just handed the ball to Marshawn Lynch on Sunday.

Does that make Brady the best athlete of our generation?

If you’re still reading, you’re with me that Brady is the best quarterback of all time, and ahead of Tim Duncan for athletes of the 2000’s.

Since I’m old, my memory stretches further back. Do Brady’s accomplishments stand up to gold standard: Michael Jordan?

michael-jordan

You can make an argument, but I’ll stick with Jordan.

Two three-peats in eight years…with a year and a half spent playing baseball in the middle.

Bringing basketball into the modern era with his style of play (although that may be changing again with the rise of analytics and things like the corner three-pointer).

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Seventy-two freaking wins.

Sneakers that still crash nikestore.com when they drop in 2015…made baldness cool (meaning a major influence on the world’s culture).

Jordan is still the GOAT. But Brady has done the most to earn it since MJ retired.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Who could have seen this coming after the Patriots were run out of Kansas City in October?

Where do you stand? Is Brady the best QB of all time? More impressive than Duncan? Jordan?

Hit the comments and let me know!

Comment(11)

  1. I can’t respect a conversation concerning the best athletes of our time if Serena Williams is not considered.

    “Basically, by winning Super Bowls thirteen years apart and remaining elite the entire time you have to rate Brady in the top spot of his position. Duncan did the same last June, topping the Miami Heat for NBA
    championships 15(!) years apart.”

    In 1999, Serena won her first Grand Slam (U.S Open), last year 15 years later she won again (for the 6th time)

    In 2003, Serena won her first Australian Open title, this past January (12 years later) she won her 6th. (A record in Tennis)

    She has 19 Grand Slams (Single Titles) Overall and that’s NOT including her Double Grand Slam titles (13)

    4 Olympic Gold Medals (3 Singles, 1 Double)

    When she won the Australian Open this past January she became the oldest women to do so.

    Off the Court:

    She and her sister Venus changed the landscape of women’s sports when Venus spoke about women tennis players receiving equal pay.
    ·
    Her daring fashion choices while on court have led to a change in how women tennis players express themselves fashion-wise.

    1. That is a great choice and a well-made argument. Serena definitely on the short list. My gut reaction is ahead of Brady, behind Jordan.

      MJ carried basketball into a new era, and birthed a slew of guys (Kobe, Vince Carter, DWade…) that are future HOF’ers in their own right, but crafted their games in his image. Is there a “next Serena”? Did she change the way women’s tennis is played, or “just” dominate with a unique style? Splitting hairs, but we’re talking athlete of the generation.

      Also, how are Olympic tennis medals considered on one’s record? Is it like basketball (Really important)? Or like soccer (not generally discussed)? Pardon my ignorance, lol.

      Serena is a hell of a candidate tho. Good add.

      1. Where would you put Lionel Messi? I would put him way ahead of Brady (who I am not sure I would rank him before Montana) but behind Serena. Americans tend not to consider foreign guys when putting together greatest of all time lists.

        Also where would you put guys like Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps, and Carl Lewis who are more prominent in the Olympics? No one seems to consider their off Olympic athletic exploits when considering their greatness. This is why when I consider athletic greatness, the ultimate championship is a factor but I do not give it as much weight as others do. I would say that Magic Johnson was just as important (if not more) as Jordan was in regards to influencing future players.

        There are a few reasons that Olympic soccer is not that important when considering a athlete’s career. 1984 was the first Olympics that allowed professional players. 1992 brought a restriction that all players (with the exception of three) have to be twenty-three years old or younger. This has led to some of the traditional powers not doing as well. Also the way more well regarded UEFA European Championship is held roughly a couple of months prior to when the Olympics would be held and the better European players would rather play that than in the Olympics. When the stars of the sport tend to shun an event, its importance will drop.

        Someone else I would put above Brady in greatest athlete of this generation: Cael Sanderson.

        1. The Olympics are a little tricky. With some sports excluded and some automatically awarding more medals than others, it’s difficult to gauge individual achievement. Ex. No matter how good a basketball player is, they do not have the opportunity to win as many medals as a swimmer or gymnast.

  2. I’ll think that that the “greatest athlete” conversation should be discussed in the context of the question:
    How much of a team sport is it?

    In this view, it’s always hard to put a football player in
    consideration for that award. The perfect example is this last Super Bowl. If
    you have 22 starters on a team, just how much is your athleticism responsible for championships? I don’t have the answer but it seems like an easier calculation with a 5 man rotation on a basketball team or in a solo sport like tennis, golf or boxing.

    Another point is that football players only do one…maybe 2 things in the game that they play, whereas basketball players do most of everything in their game. The same can be said for the solo sports.

    Even with that, I’d still put Jordan over a solo sport athlete because his greatness even defies my own logic. I just don’t think football players make the list at all.

  3. In my opinion, basketball players are the most complete athletes. Basketball is one of those sports that looks a lot easier to play than it actually is. You watch a basketball game and take a lot of what they do for granted: dribbling very well is extremely difficult, dunking is extremely difficult and running up and down the court all game is extremely difficult.

    Football, ironically, is not as hard or as terrifying as it looks to actually play. Hits sometimes hurt, but most dont hurt anywhere near as bad as they look and you get used to it pretty quickly after playing for a while.

    So in a short answer, no, Tom Brady is absolutely not the greatest athlete of our generation. He may be one of the most accomplished but certainly not the greatest. Quarterbacks in general are sometimes some of the worst athletes on the field. They just know how to throw well. Wide receivers, running backs, corner backs and linebackers are usually some of the best athletes on the field.

    I’d say the greatest individual athlete in our generation is probably Lebron James.

    1. Completely agree. Only thing I’d say is football is very difficult, I just think it’s more of a natural sport that some people don’t think so. Not many ways to get better. You either get it or you don’t. It’s all reactions. As a former QB, we definitely are pretty terrible athletes a lot of times. It’s even funnier when lineman or RB/WR can throw farther than the QB. We are more like pilots than anything.

      Basketball is really the most difficult sport from an athletic perspective. Anyone can play but to master is as difficult as golf or hitting. Add in physical speed and conditioning and it combines everything.

      Tiger or Jordan?

      1. If I had to choose who the better athlete was, I’d have to go with Mike. The degree of difficulty in playing shooting guard in the NBA on the level that he played is immensely greater in my opinion than playing golf. The nature of golf allows some to play at a high level well into their late 40s. That is inconceivable on a basketball court.

        However Tiger should definitely be admired for his level of skill and ability to dominate in a game that traditionally his kind never really paid much attention to. He was able to excel as a minority in a way that all of the majority could only dream of.

  4. I gotta give serena some serious consideration, because tennis is a grueling sport as it is.There is no off-season. There are no contracts, you buy all your own equipment, and you don’t make any serious money unless you win major tournaments. And at age 32 (which is ancient in tennis) she is still running through the competition. So with that being said she definitely deserves to be in the convo

    opinionatedmale.com

  5. This “discussion” is a joke.

    Michael Phelps is the greatest athlete of all time, not just of this generation.

    What he did in the pool is superhuman. (Before you argue “Olympic Swimming isn’t a real sport” – yeah, tell us the last time you swam a lap in a pool at full tilt, Sparky.)

    Winning Golds in 3 different Olympics 8 years apart – in a sport where you are often ‘washed up’ by age 25 – is the swimming equivalent of Serena winning an individual sport Grand Slam 15 years apart.

    Are MJ, Serena and Brady great? No question. But your article title included “athlete”. And Phelps, out-of-pool issues aside, is THE elite “athlete” of them all.

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