Something About a GOAT

In life, there are three certainties: Death, taxes, and Fox Sports 1 stooge Rob Parker doling out asinine hot takes on the New England Patriots.

Between Parker and ESPN’s Max Kellerman, it’s hard to say which of the two is more obnoxious when it comes to Patriot-related viewpoints. Kellerman seems like an easy choice, since he seems to refuse to let go of his “cliff” argument, even if it seems like that argument has backfired on him. But to his credit, at least he doesn’t seem willing to say he’s no longer the GOAT (greatest of all time) of NFL quarterbacks.


On the February 6th edition of Fox Sports 1’s Undisputed with Joy Taylor, Skip Bayless & Shannon Sharpe, Parker made two points that have drawn the ire of many, especially those in New England.

First, he said that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, the same man who has won five of eight Super Bowls in his career, deserves 100% of the blame for the team’s loss in Super Bowl LII to the Philadelphia Eagles. The reason for this is that Brady had two chances to give the Patriots either the lead, or at least a tie, in the game’s last minutes, and both were squandered.

To Parker’s credit (provided there’s some to spare in the first place), he’s not necessarily wrong. For that matter, neither is Sharpe, who only put 75% of the blame on the Patriots legend, a take that’s slightly easier to stomach. While Brady had a monster game, with 505 passing yards and three touchdowns without any interceptions, there were moments that he wasn’t entirely up to scratch. Namely, the moments where he failed to successfully catch a pass from receiver Danny Amendola, lost the ball on a strip-sack by the Eagles’ Brandon Graham, and failed to get the offense down the field fast enough to score in the closing seconds.

However, while Brady deserves at least SOME of the blame, his shortcomings are only one part of the larger picture. Let’s look at those last two blunders a little closer, shall we?


First of all, on the matter of the strip-sack, some of the blame goes to the Patriots’ offensive line. They had done a decent-enough job of holding back the Eagles’ hellacious pass-rush up until that point, so the fact that they let Graham slip through and get to Brady is a strike against them. Brady could’ve thrown the ball a bit sooner, yes, but that doesn’t change the fact that the offensive line caved in at the worst moment.

As for Brady not having enough time to get the offense down the field to score a possible touchdown and two-point conversion, part of the blame in that instance falls to the special teams unit. While it was mostly a non-factor outside of a handful of field goal attempts, this is something that shouldn’t be ignored. Following what would ultimately be the Eagles’ clinching field goal, Patriots running back Dion Lewis fielded the ensuing kickoff, and then flipped the ball to fellow running back Rex Burkhead in hopes of, I assume, pulling off something akin to the Tennessee Titans’ Music City Miracle, bleeding a few seconds off the clock in the process. It ultimately didn’t work, but what makes this instance worse is that had Lewis simply called for a fair catch rather than try and generate some trickery, Brady would’ve had a little more time to try and get the offense down the field fast enough to try and tie the game up.


Brady isn’t entirely faultless for the Patriots’ defeat. However, the the lion’s share of the blame goes to the defense, and for good reason. Every time the offense or special teams managed to close the gap, tie the game up, or even take the lead, the onus was then on the defense to prevent the Eagles’ offense from turning the tide back in their favor. But that obviously didn’t happen, as the defense…notably dreadful on third and fourth down…failed to make crucial stops when they were needed, allowing quarterback Nick Foles and company to trek across the field at-will and constantly put the Patriots’ offense on the back-foot. There’s also the matter of questionable coaching decisions on New England’s side, chief among them being the benching of former Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler. But that’s a whole other topic for another time.

So, to close out this part of my argument, here’s how I would parcel out the blame for the Patriots’ shortcomings:

Defense: 30%
Coaching: 25%
Offensive Line: 20%
Brady: 20%
Special Teams: 5%

Like I said, Brady does deserve at least some blame for the Patriots coming up short in their quest for a sixth Super Bowl title. But to say he deserves all of it when there’s more to it than what he didn’t do is a ridiculous statement.

Which, when you think about it, fits Rob Parker’s anti-Patriots M.O. like a glove.


With all of that out of the way, the next point of Parker’s is that the Patriots’ loss in Super Bowl LII removes Brady from the argument for the GOAT, and returns San Francisco 49ers legend Joe Montana to the top of the list. His main argument is that Montana won all four of the Super Bowls he played in, throwing for 1,142 yards, 83 completions, and eleven touchdowns, while Brady has only won five of his eight Super Bowls, even though he’s thrown for 2,576 yards, 235 completions, and 18 touchdowns.

Believe it or not, this debate has been a point of contention even before Super Bowl LII had been decided. It’s hard to come to a consensus in this instance; keep in mind that Montana and Brady played in two different eras, and under different circumstances. Montana played in a salary cap-less era surrounded by starpower, and Brady plays in a generation WITH a salary cap, and arguably less high-profile talent to boot. Still, saying that Brady is no longer the GOAT because he’s lost three Super Bowls is a ridiculous argument when you consider the fact that he still has one more win than Montana, and many of the former’s stats dwarf the latter to boot.

One thing that Sharpe has brought up a few times on Undisputed is that sports have a “short menu consisting of wins and losses.” While a spotless record is certainly an incredible feat, losses should not count against arguments for the GOAT, and Brady has still won more than he’s lost in the Super Bowl. More than that, there are athletes that are still talked about as being the GOAT of their sports despite losing at the championship stage multiple times.

Such athletes include Derek Jeter, perhaps the most revered modern day New York Yankee. The former superstar shortstop was known for being the driving force of five of the Yankees’ numerous World Series championships, including the 1998-2000 three-peat period where he was named the 2000 World Series MVP. Conversely, he was also part of two Yankees teams that suffered from World Series losses. The first came at the hands of the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2001, and the next to the Florida Marlins two years later.

Kobe Bryant has the same distinction as Jeter, oft-regarded as an all-time legend and leading five Los Angeles Lakers teams to NBA Finals Championships; three of them from 2000-2002, and two from 2009-2010. He was also voted Finals MVP for the last two. Also like Jeter, he was a part of two Lakers teams that lost in the NBA Finals. The losses came at the hands of the Detroit Pistons and Boston Celtics, both within four years of each other.

So, by Parker’s logic, if Brady is disqualified from GOAT status because he’s lost three Super Bowls, that means Jeter, Bryant, and athletes with similar credentials are also disqualified. If you’re going to disqualify one athlete from consideration as the GOAT because they lost in the big moment, you need to disqualify all of them on the same grounds.

And before it’s bought up, this does not factor in the Deflategate allegations leveled against Brady; contrary to popular opinion, it was never actually proven that he was involved to any sort of extent. Plus, if you’re going to hold Brady’s Deflategate allegations against him, you need to do the same for Bryant’s rape allegations, which are far worse in context; once again, what you apply to one you must apply to all.


Parker’s animosity towards New England is unsurprising by this point, but it seems as though the level of stupidity and cluelessness in his hot takes has peaked. Blaming the Patriots’ loss 100% on Brady, saying his status as the GOAT is revoked and returned to Montana, and claiming that 5-3 is “basically .500,” is a slap in the face of common logic.

Make no mistake, he’s free to dislike Brady as he pleases, but takes like those are an extensive kind of ridiculous. Thankfully, even people outside the New England area are keenly aware of the man’s outrageous logic, and have called him out on it accordingly.

Then again, anyone would call out the BS of a man who asked Rod Marinelli if he wished his daughter married a better defensive coordinator.


In short:
Does Tom Brady deserve some of the blame for losing the Super Bowl? Yes.
Does losing a third Super Bowl disqualify him from being the GOAT? No.
Does Rob Parker sound absolutely stupid with this take? You bet.
Will that change any time soon? Don’t count on it.

‘Til we meet again,
Tom

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No Quarterback’s an Evergreen

My fellow New England Patriots fans: Let’s have a little heart-to-heart, shall we?

Very few things in this life are eternal. The skills of an NFL quarterback, whether you like it or not, are no exception to this rule. And this includes your hero and mine, Tom Brady.


No doubt, Brady has been a boon for the Patriots since he hit the scene in 2001. Barring two crushing Super Bowl losses to the New York Giants and a negative record against longtime nemesis Peyton Manning in the AFC Championship Game, his resume is one of the most decorated of any player in the sport, being the only player besides Charles Haley to claim that they have won five Super Bowl titles. The efficiency and skill with which he’s lead the Patriots back from the brink of defeat is unmatched, including the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history two short months ago. Simply put, Brady is a gridiron god.

Recently, Brady told the Pats’ owner, Robert Kraft, that he intends to keep playing for what he claims is “six or seven years.” That might sound well and good, and I’m sure many of you were (and still are) licking your chops at the prospect of Brady leading the Patriots to even more Super Bowl wins.

But let’s pump the brakes for just a minute and be real here: Tom Brady isn’t going to play for another six or seven years.


Now, if he thinks he can pull out another seven quality years at most, more power to him. While I think he’ll play for less than what he claims, I’m putting nothing past him in that regard; the fact that he’s played as well as he has over the years is a testament to how he’s kept himself in such fantastic shape. It’s especially impressive since he’s playing this well in an age range where most quarterbacks’ skills tend to taper off.

On top of that, suggesting that Brady will see a sharp decline in skill any time in the immediate future is foolish. Case and point: Max Kellerman of ESPN’s First Take suggested (rather idiotically) that Brady would “fall off a cliff” and “become a bum in short order” once he returned from his unwarranted Deflategate suspension. Even when he missed those first four games, Brady put up regular season numbers on par with a quarterback who had played a full season. And that’s before leading the Patriots’ through the postseason and their Super Bowl LI comeback. Suffice to say, Kellerman was given more than just a slice of humble pie.


That said, while Brady is nowhere close to falling off the wagon any time soon, it’s not unrealistic to believe it’ll happen later in the future. For how well he keeps himself in shape and preps for each game day, age is going to take hold at some point. Father Time has caught up with the best athletes before, and he’ll get to Brady at some point. It won’t be this coming season, more than likely, but it’s going to happen regardless. And when that happens, you better be ready for the post-Brady era in New England.

So, how much longer will Brady go on for? Provided he doesn’t suffer another catastrophic injury like he did in 2008, my best bet would be that he has three solid years left in him. In that timeframe, if Bill Belichick can keep a solid team together…and injuries don’t force him to resort to glue, dental floss and the hopes of small children to keep the team’s title hopes alive…he and the Patriots will win one more Super Bowl at the absolute least.


Believe me, I’ve been around for virtually all of Brady’s time as New England’s field general, and it’s going to be a sad day when the man decides to hang up his cleats for good. He’s been an excellent quarterback, and an equally-excellent man off the field as seen through his philanthropic endeavors. Be that as it may, no athlete is like an evergreen; age sets in at some point, and even with all of Brady’s physical upkeep, it’ll get to him, too. That’s just the reality of things.

In short: Enjoy the Tom Brady Era while you can, Pats fans, because it’s not going to last much longer.

‘Til we meet again,
Tom