Opinion: Brady Has Eclipsed Jordan as Greatest Athlete of All Time
Let me get this straight right off the bat. When I say "Greatest Athlete," I do not mean most athletic. I don't mean the most talented and I don't even necessarily mean the best.
Greatness in sports should be primarily defined by one thing and one thing only: Winning.
No one in the history of sports has done more of that than Tom Brady.
The argument can be made that Patrick Mahomes or even Aaron Rodgers is the most gifted, talented quarterback that fans have ever seen play in the National Football League and I would simply have no debate against it. Tom Brady does not have nearly the athletic ability or natural talent that someone like Mahomes has.
But what Brady has lacked in athletic ability throughout his career, he has made up for with more dedication and drive perhaps than any athlete ever, and the never-ending sharpening of his mental game through countless hours of film study. Brady relentlessly pursues perfection year after year in a way that could only be compared to the likes of Nick Saban.
Never satisfied, always hungry for more.
This is the mantra that Brady has adapted throughout his career and what has allowed him to remain at the top of his craft, even at an absurd 43 years old.
When Brady opted not to return to New England, he said that he felt he still had more left to prove and that going to Tampa Bay was a new and exciting challenge for him. Brady brought a winning culture into an extremely talented locker room, and the results paid dividends.
It may be easy to forget now, but let's recall the fact that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were a 7-9 football team just a year ago. Yes, Brady helped to bring in some other personnel, but for the most part the core of the roster was the same in 2020 as it was in 2019.
When Michael Jordan returned to basketball for the 2001-02 NBA season to play with the Washington Wizards, the Wizards were one of the worst teams in the NBA. Yes, Jordan had been retired for three years already and the Wizards were significantly worse than the 2019 Buccaneers, but the fact that Brady just did what he did at a ridiculous 43 years old makes it a fair comparison.
Unsurprising to pretty much everybody, Jordan simply was not enough to make a bad team into a playoff contender, and the Wizards went 37-45 in both 2001-02 and 2002-03 and missed the playoffs. These were Jordan's final seasons playing basketball.
When Brady signed with Tampa Bay back in March, many people wondered what the point was. He was 42, going on 43, and had already proven himself to be the greatest quarterback of all time. He easily could have walked away and preserved a 20 year legacy in New England and nobody would have blamed him.
But walking away while he still felt he had more football left in his tank would be completely contrary to the mindset that has put Brady at the top of his craft. Tom Brady became who he is today by working harder than everyone else on the field both physically and mentally, and by simply never being satisfied or getting complacent.
That is why it was not a surprise to a single person when Jim Nantz asked Tom Brady after he was handed his 7th Lombardi Trophy if he would be coming back to chase another and Brady simply stated "Oh yeah, we're coming back."
Much to the chagrin of the rest of the NFL, Tom Brady isn't going anywhere.
Never satisfied, always hungry for more.
Instead of listening to everyone around him and in the media, Brady took on a new challenge with a new team in a whole new conference. I don't think there is a single athlete in the history of sports who would have the courage to do this at 43 years old.
He took a talented team with a losing culture and instilled "The Patriot Way" to a young locker room desperate for a charismatic leader. Simply by instilling a winning culture, Brady was able to unlock the full potential of the team and push them beyond what anyone thought was possible, at least in the 2020 season.
Of course, from the day Brady stepped foot on Florida soil, you would have been hard pressed to find a single player in that Buccaneers locker room who did not believe that this team was capable of winning a championship this year. This changing mindset in the locker room alone transcends anything any athlete has accomplished in the history of sports.
If you've got Tom Brady on your sideline, you at least have a shot.
I, even as the biggest Tom Brady fan I know, did not think it was at all possible for Brady to go into Tampa Bay in YEAR ONE and win a Super Bowl. I don't think you could find anyone who thought they could and if someone is telling you they did think that, you are probably speaking to a liar. That is how unfathomable this achievement is for Brady and the Buccaneers.
Unfortunately for the rest of the league, Tom Brady isn't going anywhere. And don't look away just yet, because that never ending and relentless pursuit of perfection might just earn him an 8th Super Bowl ring before it's all said and done.
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