Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Dude, Tom Brady's the Man, but is he the Best Ever?

Tom Brady: The World's Greatest Sugar Baby

By Joe Parello

I'm not a Patriots fan, but it's hard to deny that when the 49ers scream "Who's got it better than us?!" they are almost surely talking about Tom Brady.

Brady further proved his total baller-hood this week, accepting a 3-year, $27 million deal with the only team he's ever known, the New England Patriots. The interesting part of the deal is, while it does pay him a ton upfront and a good portion of it is guaranteed, it is well below market value for a quarterback of his caliber.

The average of $9 million annually Brady will take in is less than half the $20 million a year he could have demanded on the open market. So, why does taking half your value make you a baller? Allow me to explain:

First, the obvious reasons. It allows him to stay in New England until the age of 40 and contend for championships with a team and coaching staff he loves. Furthermore, it makes the Patriots the only team with a franchise quarterback but little money tied to him. This gives them the flexibility to sign free agents in a way that Denver (Paying Manning around $20 M a year) , Green Bay (Just cut Woodson), New Orleans (Paying Brees around $20 M a year) and Pittsburgh (About to cut a number of defensive mainstays) could only dream of.

That's all fine and good for the Patriots and their fans, but here are the real reasons why Tom Brady taking a pay cut is the most badass thing of all time.

He doesn't need the money!

Why? Because his incredibly hot, super model wife earns three times as much as he does! So, not only is Tom Brady a highly paid, legendary NFL quarterback, he is also the world's luckiest sugar baby. There is nothing cooler than that. Like, that is way cooler than winning the Super Bowl MVP. You get to marry one of the hottest women on the planet, and she takes care of you.

Some guys have all the luck.

Another reason this extension was a baller move is it may end up screwing over Joe Flacco.

Flacco may have outdueled Brady in the AFC Championship Game, but when it comes to cashing checks, the world's greatest sugar baby may get some measure of revenge this off-season. You see, by taking a smaller deal, Brady's cap number dropped from $21.8 million to $13.8 million this year, knocking him out of the top-5 paid players for the quarterback position.

This doesn't matter to Flacco if he and the Ravens reach a long term deal. But, if the team puts the franchise tag on him, they would be forced to pay Flacco the average of the top-5 paid players at his position. With Brady dropping out of that group, that number falls from $20.5 million to $19.6 million. So, while Flacco probably won't lose any sleep over that, Brady can take a some joy in costing his rival nearly a million dollars this year while he uses Gisele's AmEx to buy man Uggs.

But now, we get to the big question. While Tom Brady may be the most baller quarterback of all time, is he the best? Well, for the sake of simplicity and trying to compare apples to apples (though that is somewhat impossible across generations), I am only going to count "modern quarterbacks."

Most football fans and historians can agree that the first "modern quarterback," in fact, the man who defined the modern quarterback, was Johnny Unitas. So, we will begin with Unitas' era in the late 50s and 60s, and move on from there with this criteria.

1. The QB must have been considered an "elite" player in his day (Top 5 QBs in the league).

2. The QB must have played at a Pro Bowl level for at least 8 years, and have a statistical body of work that separates him from his peers.

Just with these two criteria, we have quite an extensive list.

Unitas, Len Dawson, Fran Tarkenton, Bob Griese, Dan Fouts, Joe Montana, Dan Marino, John Elway, Brett Favre, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Drew Brees.

A few notes about this list: Steve Young missed it by one Pro Bowl season, while Troy Aikman missed the cut by two. Aaron Rodgers is three great seasons away from being in the conversation. Len Dawson only had 7 Pro Bowl appearances, but had two other seasons were he was statistically qualified, while Griese got in with 8, despite the fact that there were two years he didn't really deserve it. Brees has made 7 consecutive Pro Bowls and had a 3,500 yard season his final year in San Diego, so I included him as well.

Maybe it's just my Purdue bias that made me stick three guys from the Cradle of Quarterbacks (Dawson, Griese and Brees) in, but oh well.

But, if we add in the following two criteria, those 12 names get cut to two.

3. Multiple World Championships

4. The QB was, definitively, the best quarterback of his generation.

The multiple championships knock Dawson, Tarkenton, Fouts, Marino, Favre, Manning and Brees out. The "definitively best QB" clause knocks out Griese (Roger Staubach, Ken Stabler, Terry Bradshaw, etc), Elway (Marino, Montana, Jim Kelly and Brett Favre cut into his era to an extent) and, Brady (It's so hard to say he was definitively better than Manning, and Brees and Rodgers are making runs at him).

So, that leaves you with Unitas and Montana. While Unitas has the edge for Pro Bowl appearances and All Pro seasons, Montana has double the championships. But, Unitas stood out above his peers more than Montana did, as both men barely eclipsed 40,000 career passing yards, but Unitas did it over 20 years earlier, without an offense that revolutionized the game, and on 200 fewer pass attempts.

So, there you have it, Johnny Unitas, the best ever, in my meaningless opinion.

But Tom Brady is still wicked ah-some!