Has Tom Brady Surpassed Michael Jordan As the G.O.A.T.?

Tom Brady won his fifth Super Bowl Sunday, earning his status as the greatest QB of all time. But how does he stack up against the G.O.A.T. Michael Jordan?

Tom Brady probably put to bed the argument who the best quarterback in NFL history is Sunday. Coming back from a 25-point deficit late in the third quarter to secure your fifth Super Bowl title and fourth Super Bowl MVP, both NFL records, kind of puts all other candidates in your dust.

Yes, Joe Montana won four titles, earned three MVPs, and never lost a Super Bowl. But he can’t wave his hand in front of all his haters with all five fingers featuring the most blinged-out ring imaginable like Tom Brady can these days.

So with his status amongst NFL quarterbacks secured, where does that leave Brady ranked amongst the G.O.A.T.s of North American team sports? After hoisting another Vince Lombardi Trophy, has Brady reached the levels of Babe Ruth, Wayne Gretzky, or Michael Jordan and (gasp) passed His Airness?

We know it’s sacrilegious around these parts to tug at the G.O.A.T.’s cape, but after what we witnessed last night, making the argument that Brady should go down as the better team athlete than M.J. ain’t all that far-fetched—or difficult to make.

I think we have to start seriously talking about it.

We know it’s sacrilegious around these parts to tug at the G.O.A.T.’s cape, but after what we witnessed last night, making the argument that Brady should go down as the better team athlete than M.J. ain’t all that far-fetched—or difficult to make.

Think about it. Brady has taken his team to seven Super Bowls, 11 conference championship games, won all those rings and collected all those Super Bowl MVP trophies to showcase beside his two NFL MVP trophies while manning the most difficult and demanding position in all of team sports. And he's done so while significantly less gifted athletically and at ages where the majority of the population is about as agile as DJ Khaled at the top of the key.

Jordan, on the other hand, dominated—absolutely dominated—the competition and led the Bulls to six NBA titles while earning six NBA Finals MVP honors to go along with five MVP awards and countless other accolades during his storied career. Yes, he was on a different level and did things we never saw before. He was a gamechanger, a disrupter, and a legend that introduced a level of greatness and winning that hadn't been seen pretty much since the Celtics in the '60s.  

But dynasties have always been an NBA thing. Dynasties aren’t supposed to happen in the NFL. Not in today’s football where free agency, the salary cap, injuries, the absurdity of a phantom calls, the wrong bounce of the ball, and a million other things all conspire to keep teams from going on prolonged runs of success.

Yes, Bill Belichick deserves a ton of credit for his evil genius ways and molding Brady into a cold-blooded killer in the pocket. Without Belichick’s cunning and conniving, the Patriots are probably the same garbage franchise they historically were until the Hoodie drafted a quarterback out of Michigan in the sixth round.

Of course Mike had Phil Jackson on the bench. And Scottie Pippen as his running mate along with Dennis Rodman later on. He played with at least one legend for all six of those titles and another Hall of Famer for his final three titles. How many Hall of Famers on offense and defense will Brady end up playing with? Adam Vinateri and Randy Moss for sure (but even when the Pats made it to Super Bowl XLII behind Brady and Moss, ask a Giants fan how that worked out). Darrelle Revis (who won a title because the Seahawks neglected to run the ball in Super Bowl XLIX) is a future Hall of Famer but only played briefly with the Pats, just like Junior Seau who was inducted in 2015.

Tom Brady celebrates Super Bowl LI victory.

Yes, Brady's been incredibly lucky during his career, arguably much more so than Jordan. But did Jordan ever author a comeback for the ages, of historic proportions, like Brady did Sunday on his game's biggest stage? Did Jordan ever lead his team back from an abyss darker than Bill Belichick’s soul like Brady did last night when the Patriots were down 28-3 late in the third quarter? Yeah, Jordan hit what felt like a million clutch shots, but he wasn't always the one in those NBA Finals hitting them. He had Paxson and Kerr helping him out. Yeah, Brady's had some help, but he's always been the one making the throws, running the show. 

The Patriots have been built around one individual through this run as the rest of the parts have been interchangeable. Brady has been the constant, never taking a year off to play baseball. Never retiring for a second time only to return as a significantly diminished player. He's maintained a level of performance that defies logic and some might argue modern science. Brady is 39 years old and looks just as good as he did when he was 29. Jordan couldn’t sustain the same level of productivity at the same advanced age. Jordan won his last title at age 36. Brady looks like he's good for another two or three right now and he's turning 40 this year. 

He’s said in past interviews that he sees himself playing for at least four or five more years. With no signs of slowing down, the Patriots are Super Bowl favorites again next year because of Tom Brady. And if he were to secure that eighth trip to the Big Game and a sixth title, the argument about where Brady ranks in comparison to M.J. would no longer be an argument. It’d be a waste of breath. Because Tom would top Mike at that point, if he hasn’t already in the minds of many.

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