The Debate Over Tom Brady: Greatest of All Time or Overrated?

Juan Ramirez (JC) Delgadillo and Abigail Jackson

If you know anything about football, you know who Tom Brady is. He is one of the most accomplished football players of all time, with seven Super Bowl wins, 14 Pro Bowl appearances and the most completed passes by any quarterback in the NFL. He has an exceptional record of 230-69 in the NFL, and he definitely lives up to the title he has garnered in the media in recent years: the greatest quarterback of all time.

Personally, I’m not a Patriots fan — however, there’s no doubting Brady’s talent. I’ve watched him make some huge comebacks in the fourth quarter of games and throw some amazing passes, and, according to my dad, he’s been that skilled since he first got drafted into the NFL. 

Brady was drafted in 2000 to the New England Patriots in the sixth round of the draft.  He began his career as the fourth-string quarterback, but by the end of his first season, he had already moved into the number two spot due to his skill and determination in practices. 

The Patriots had had a rough few seasons leading up to Brady’s arrival on the team and had missed the playoffs the past two years. In 2001, Drew Bledsoe, the Patriots’ starting quarterback, suffered internal bleeding after taking a hit in a game, and Brady stepped up to take his place. His hard work in practices paid off, and Brady led the Patriots to win their division and even received an invitation to play in the 2002 Pro Bowl. 

A lot of fans are drawn to Brady because of his team commitment. He played for the Patriots for almost 20 years and quickly became a fan favorite. He formed strong friendships with his teammates, such as Rob Gronkowski, who actually came out of retirement to support Brady when he signed a contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2020. As someone who plays a team sport, I know how important it is to foster a strong connection with your teammates. Seeing Brady spend time with his teammates outside of practices and games and really grow that bond is something very admirable.

Over his time in the NFL, Brady has won over many fans, including myself, with his impressive statistics and his undeniable skill. Brady has 79,204 career passing yards with 581 touchdowns and has won seven Super Bowls, the most of any player in NFL history. In addition, he has been named Super Bowl MVP five times.

Because Brady played for the Patriots for 20 years, many football fans believed that he was only so good because he had been playing with the same teammates for so long. This may be true, but he has played in the NFL much longer than some of his teammates and was just as good without them. Coming off of a disappointing first-round playoff loss in the 2019-20 season, Brady announced that he would be signing a two-year contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In the 2019-20 season, the Buccaneers were 7-9, and in the 2020-21 season, with Tom Brady as their quarterback, the Buccaneers finished their season with an 11-5 regular season record and a Super Bowl win. Brady proved to fans that he could shine on his own and that he didn’t rely on his teammates to make him look good. 

Although many people support Brady, some believe that he is a cheater and that he often complains to get what he wants. Brady was involved in a scandal known as “Deflategate” and has drawn criticism from his reactions to penalties called on the field. 

The “Deflategate” scandal refers to an incident that took place when the Patriots played against the Indianapolis Colts in the 2014 AFC championship game. Brady was accused of ordering the footballs to be slightly deflated so that they were easier to throw and catch. Brady initially denied the claims, but when the referees checked the balls at halftime, 11 of the 12 balls used were underinflated. He was suspended for four games due to the scandal, and his reputation was severely damaged among fans and the league as a whole. I was definitely disappointed in Brady because with his level of talent, he could have won the game without deflating the balls. 

Additionally, Brady has been known to complain about calls that are made against his team. Former Denver Broncos tight end Antonio Smith said in an interview with the Colorado Springs Gazette that he’s “never seen any quarterback look to the referee right after he gets sacked more than Brady.” Brady has also publicly criticized the number of calls made by referees in games that he didn’t even play in. Although I agree that, occasionally, referees make bad calls, I feel like Brady sometimes takes his complaining too far and that he should be able to win a game whether or not the referees are interfering. 

While there is no doubt that Brady is a talented quarterback, there will always be debates over whether he should really be called the greatest of all time. Although I’m not a fan of the team he plays on, I definitely support him as an athlete and as one of the best players that the NFL has ever seen.