Many people have used the phrase ‘Greatest of all time’ a statement handed out only to the ONE player in ANY sport who tops everyone in the past, present or future. Seeing how this is a football blog, we’ll keep this argument limited to just the NFL only. Ever since the Patriots rallied against the Falcons from a 28-3 deficit in Super Bowl LI, many have decreed Patriots’ Quarterback Tom Brady as ‘The Greatest Player of All Time’ which isn’t a fair or accurate sentiment. Every player is great in their own way, and it’s hard to determine this without looking at every element of the game.
Long before people we’re saying this about Brady, people would argue whether former 49ers’ WR Jerry Rice was the greatest and if he was better than the Packers’ receiver Don Huston. To better explain my point here, let’s look at the facts shall we? Jerry Rice for starters holds records for receptions, touchdowns and receiving yards, however, this took place between 1985-2004. I say this because this was when the Passing game was becoming more commonly used instead of solely running the ball, when Don Hutson played (1935-1945), be became the first official modern Receiver who held the records for nearly every significant receiving category in the league. Hutson lead the league in receiving scores in 9 seasons and lead the league yards for 7 seasons.
Hutson also helped the Packers win the NFL Championship Games in 1936, 1939, and 1944, Rice helped his team win 3 Super Bowl titles (The equivalent of the NFL Championship games from Hutson’s era), so they’re evenly matched in the area that most people focus on in this argument, the amount of championships a man wins in his career. While Rice helped to further evolve the NFL Offense, Hutson revolutionized it. Another thing that helps Hutson earn value points for this argument is that he also played safety and caught 30 interceptions during his career. Back in the older days it wasn’t uncommon for a star player to play multiple positions, Rice only played wideout while Hutson played both ways.
Tom Brady has won 5 Super Bowls, but has lost twice to the New York Giants in 2008 and 2012, making that 7 Super Bowl Appearances. Quarterbacks Terry Bradshaw (Pittsburgh Steelers, 1970-1983) and Joe Montana (San Francisco 49ers, 1979-1992) both won 4 Super Bowls in the 1970s (Bradshaw)and the 1980s (Montana) and they NEVER lost any additional Super Bowls. In the 1960s Packers’ QB Bart Starr won 5 championships between 1959-1968, led by the legendary Vince Lombardi as Head Coach. Starr only lost ONE game in the postseason as the Green and Gold’s leader in 1960, but aside from that, he won the big game every time.
Tom Brady also isn’t the highest rated QB in NFL history (QBR: 97.2), that title belongs to Aaron Rodgers who has a rating of 104.1. Brady also doesn’t have some of the records that Peyton Manning Holds in Passing Yards and Touchdowns. The point of the matter is that whenever someone is proclaimed a GOAT, it brings on a lot of debates, which won’t ever end. Whoever’s the best player…to me that claim and argument is too subjective for there to be a definitive answer. Heck, there are QBs that have NEVER won a Super Bowl that people have claimed to be great players like Dan Fouts of the Chargers who never reached a Super Bowl. The same can be said for Dan Marino who held almost every significant QB record for Touchdown passes, yards, pass attempts and completions, etc. The only Super Bowl he ever played in was a 38-16 loss in 1984 to the 49ers, it was only his second season. His records stood until 2006 and 2007 when Packers QB Brett Favre broke all of those records that Peyton Manning has broken some of since then in 2014.
What makes a player great is solely based on your opinion of the player to begin with, that’s why I think saying someone in ANY sport is the greatest has his or her sky high in the clouds and isn’t looking at the bigger picture of the sport.