Sunday, March 12, 2017

Tom Brady May Have More Rings Now, But Joe Montana Still Has More Class

11. Joe Montana

It has now been well over a month since that incredible Super Bowl comeback, which was astonishing for several reasons. Frankly, I still have not fully made up my mind whether it was the Patriots that earned the comeback win, or the Falcons that blew what should have been their first title. Obviously, it was at least a little bit of both, because one does not go without the other. Atlanta blew the clock management, did not emphasize killing the clock and allowing their defense to actually catch their breath, and ran silly plays. They just did not play like they really meant to win that game after the Pats started to get serious about the comeback.

On the other hand, New England is the kind of team that can make a lot of people nervous like that, and the Falcons clearly were one of them. I think, in part, that Atlanta gave it everything that they had, and probably took the Patriots by surprise a little in that earlier part of the game. The Falcons threw everything that they had at New England, and that was true both on offense and on defense. It was good enough for them to build a 28-3 lead, but then that was it. Bill Belichick made some adjustments and the Patriots clearly listened. The Falcons suddenly were not moving the ball at will, and the Falcons defense, which had played brilliantly up to that point, started to wear down - but this was by design. Give New England some credit here, because that was the Pats doing. All the Falcons did was accommodate them later in the game by not running, and by managing the clock horrendously. Also, by making silly play calls, such as relying on their passing game when they clearly should have run the ball, or at least sat on it, very late, when they were in field goal range in a situation where they only needed a field goal to ice it.

As you can see, the game still riles me up a bit. It just seems so amazing that what happened actually happened, and you cannot help but congratulate the Patriots while simultaneously blasting the Falcons. Both seem equally valid, frankly. 

The victory was a team victory, yet it once again struck up a very common argument that has been going on in football now for years. Namely, who's the greatest of all time, Tom Brady or Joe Montana.

I already wrote about this and, for the most part, I find myself in agreement with Joe Montana, that the two cannot rightly be compared, because they played in two different eras, and their situations were completely different. Frankly, I felt that way even back then, because the question of how Dan Marino or John Elway or Warren Moon might have fared if they had been in that San Francisco uniform, and if Montana had found himself wearing a Dolphins or a Broncos or an Oilers uniform seemed far from settled. For that matter, how would Brady have done had he been wearing a Colts and/or Broncos uniform at the same time that Manning might have been wearing a Patriots uniform during the Belichick era. Honestly, those seem like hugely relevant and fair questions.

Still, we go with the debate that is raging, because ultimately, the situation that has arisen is that these two men, Joe Montana and Tom Brady, are the one who emerged as the two greatest quarterbacks of their era, at least in terms of championship success - and it can certainly be argued that this is the true measure of greatness.

In terms of on the field accomplishments, I frankly find it hard to argue against Brady at this point. He is coming off his fifth Super Bowl championship, and the way that New England won it, after overcoming a 28-3 deficit, was truly remarkable. The fact that this was Brady's fifth Super Bowl victory (an NFL record) on his seventh overall Super Bowl start (also an NFL record) is telling, and it is almost impossible to refute at this point. The 49ers under Montana won four Super Bowls in a span of nine years, while the Patriots under Brady won five titles in a span of 16 years, and that was during the era of free agency and parity! Both teams won "Team of the Decade" honors, but the Pats have a chance - a very real chance - of becoming the first team that wins it in back to back decades.

With all of that in mind, it is extremely difficult not to give Brady the nod. After all, he had greater longevity, and won more big games in more clutch situations. That can hardly be denied, because Montana's 49ers were only in one really tight Super Bowl. They barely got past Cincinnati in XXIII, needing Montana's winning touchdown pass to John Taylor with 34 seconds left to edge out the Bengals. It should be clarified here that while the final score to XVI seems, on the surface, to have been close (the final score was 26-21, with the final difference being merely one point more than the XXIII game), the final score made the game seem deceptively competitive, while in reality, the 49ers basically dominated. By contrast, every single one of the Super Bowls that Brady's Patriots played in were competitive, including the two that they lost.

Plus, let's face it: Brady's greater number of appearances means that he got his team past more opponents in the playoffs, particularly in the Championship Games. Brady's record in AFC Championship Games overall is 7-4. Montana's record in NFC and AFC title games (he played in both) is 4-3. In the last NFC Championship Game that he played with the 49ers, he was knocked out of the game due to injury sustained when he took a savage hit by the Leonard Marshall of the New York Giants, and it should be noted that the Giants defensive coordinator back then was none other than Bill Belichick.

Brady made it to more playoff appearances with the Pats, and they went farther much further than Montana's 49ers did. Montana, when he won his last Super Bowl for San Francisco in the 1989 season, had five other players on his team remaining from that first championship back in 1981. Brady had none from his first championship season for this past Super Bowl, which means that he had to adjust to more changes - far more changes - than Montana ever did.

The arguments favoring Brady are almost countless, while the argument in support of Montana come down to basically one thing: he was better in his Super Bowl performances than Brady was in his. Montana won all four of his biggest games, and his passer rating in those games was off the chart, as he threw 11 touchdown passes to zero interceptions. Brady cannot boast those kinds of numbers (and frankly, no one can), despite Brady's more numerous appearances. Brady has thrown more touchdown passes in the Super Bowls, but it can be argued, with validity, that this is because he went far more often.

So, if I had to pick one as the better overall quarterback, or the one with the clearly most impressive career, that would have to be Brady.

However, I have to add this: Montana was a lot more likable. I mean, I am not even one of those Brady haters, of which there are many. Frankly, I hated the 49ers, although there were some members of that team (particularly Montana, Rice, and Walsh) whom I actually very much liked. Meanwhile, I do not hate the Patriots, really, at all. Yet, Brady comes across as rather full of himself, and nowhere near as likable as Montana on a personal level.

I mean, Tom Brady is basically making a killing already with his salary as a starting quarterback, and that is not even getting into his endorsements. A recent article showed that he is demanding outrageous sums of money for his fans to get his autograph.

Here's the article, just in case you were interested: RICH ASS TOM BRADY IS GOUGING PATS FANS FOR A SIMPLE AUTOGRAPH BY ADAM K. RAYMONDFEB 14, 2017 :

That's just something that would be hard to imagine Montana doing, since he always seemed a lot more humble. Frankly, Montana just had more class than Brady does. Brady had that "Make America Great Again" pro-Trump hat in his locker room, while Montana said that he wanted to keep his politics to himself. And I never heard Montana badmouth his competition, his fellow quarterbacks on other teams, while Brady has taken cheap shots at Peyton Manning (even though he later apologized for it.

So, there you have it. Brady might be the greatest and most accomplished quarterback in NFL history, but you can certainly see why people still actively route for Montana to hold that legacy. It sure is easier to like that guy than the one who is currently on top now. However, I think that they are both kind of a sign of their times. Montana came during a very different era in sports, when there was some modesty and, frankly, moderation, while Brady epitomizes this age of excess. 

And that's what makes it hard for so many people to stomach him, let alone give him the credit that he deserves, when he seems so quick and more than ready to give himself that credit to begin with. 

Youtube Video - Joe Montana on Tom Brady Throughout the Years:

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