Tom Brady has four Super Bowl rings, has played in 10 conference championships and he competed at an MVP-caliber level for most of last season at 38 years old. Yet the future first-ballot Hall of Famer said he disagrees with the assessment he’s among the game’s greatest of all time.
In an interview with Westwood One Radio’s Jim Gray (h/t Ryan Hannable of WEEI.com) prior to Super Bowl 50, Brady was asked if he was one of the best quarterbacks to play the game, and he shut down the notion quickly, referring to his childhood hero, Joe Montana, as the best ever:
That is a helluva question and I wouldn't put myself in there.
I think there's some incredible players that have played the position and a lot of guys do things differently to get the job done. You see different styles, different techniques.
When you look at me being a fan of Joe Montana—nobody ever did it better than Joe Montana. In a way he was like the Michael Jordan of football. The style and the grace and the beauty of what Joe's style was, it never looked hard for Joe.
Brady went on to talk about great quarterbacks of the past and present, referring to Steve Young and Troy Aikman and then touching on Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson and Cam Newton. He said he’s "blown away by the different styles of all these different players that make this game so spectacular.”
Brady, whose rise from being a sixth-round draft pick to anchoring a dynasty in New England for well over a decade, went on to say he’s been successful because he works harder than most:
I think of myself as kind of someone who has got to think my way through the game, has to understand coverages, anticipate things. I have to work my butt off all week and work really hard to get to the game feeling confident with what I am trying to accomplish and get down the field to score some points. I guess for me, because I have to work so hard at it and try so hard at it, that’s part of enjoying it for me, but I look at other players and say, ‘Gosh, I wish I could make it look as easy as they make it look.
However, some, like USA Today, didn’t buy Brady's comments and speculated he was using the platform as a means to dish out a humblebrag:
USA TODAY Sports @USATODAYsports
Tom Brady says he’s not one of the greatest QBs ever in shameless humblebrag: https://t.co/99HiB9HMSy https://t.co/NVmXyfrWbD2/8/2016, 7:41:44 PM
For Brady, the negative reaction he fields comes with the territory of being among the more polarizing players in the NFL—in large part thanks to controversies like Deflategate and Spygate, as well as what many perceive to be an inflated ego.
Rather than bashing him, what seems more appropriate is crediting him for acknowledging that he still aspires to achieve even more.
“Hopefully the journey is not over, I still feel like I have more to achieve as a player,” Brady said. "I still feel like I have more things to prove to myself. I look forward to those opportunities down the road.”
Regardless of what he says he believes, Brady is one of the game’s all-time greats. And as long as he remains effective under center, as he did again this year, the Patriots will continue to contend for titles.