Watching replays of past Super bowls, we started looking up stats on previous players. When we got to quarterbacks, we were fascinated. We discovered Super bowl winning quarterbacks with more interceptions than touchdowns. Terry Bradshaw, a 4-time Super bowl winner was about equal, some years throwing more picks. Ken Stabler only had a couple of good years. Looking at other quarterbacks, we saw similar across the board, a few having better marks, a couple very good.
Today, we’re finding it rare that any quarterback remains in charge of the offense if their touchdowns are not superior to interceptions. And this goes with yardage. More 300 and 400, even 500 yard passing games. So, as football fans are inclined, we discussed the reasons, which have been talked about on shows.
There is a constant discussion on who are the best quarterbacks. As I see it, you can’t compare apples and oranges. Early in the NFL, certainly near the advent, quarterbacks were hit with far more frequency, harder, and often smashed into the ground. Terry Bradshaw was flipped on his head. We saw hits to helmets, hits to the knees, hits from the side. Even when the tackler hadn’t reached the quarterback before the throw, there was often no penalty.
So, people argue whether Joe Montana or Tom Brady is better. Here’s what I said. You can discuss, but there’s no way to compare accurately. Each era has different rules, different players, different coaches, and different technology, along with an understanding of the game. It is what it is. As far as I can see, the only way to compare, accurately, and say who the best is, you can only compare quarterbacks of the same era, for they are playing during the same years with the same rules. Joe Montana was amazing, and like Brady, had an excellent cast. But his career was shorter due to all the hits. Tom Brady has played during an era where helmet and knee hits aren’t allowed, and if he throws, even if the defender is one foot away upon release, the defender is flagged. If he hits to the head, he might be ejected depending upon the severity. And receivers, in some situations, can’t be touched, and certainly not hit hard while looking away. Very different times. And remember, early in Super bowl history, quarterbacks called their own plays. There wasn’t all the computers and people upstairs giving their data. It was more lifelike.
I would have loved to see Joe Montana playing during the same era as Brady. But I could also say that about Lamonica, Bradshaw, and many others. So what do I do? We continue to have those talks. We continue to debate. There’s more to those talks. And Belichik? How would Brady have done with another team? Guess we’ll get some idea in Tampa Bay, at the end of his career. How would Montana have done with New England, in this era? We’ll never know. And remember, while with San Francisco, he played for two coaches before going to Kansas City. It’s apples and oranges.
So, someone asks. Who do I say is the best? Of course, I say Tom Brady based upon stats, post-season play, and Super bowls. On paper. As individuals, I can’t say. Both are amazing.4
Then there’s going to be Aaron Rogers and Brady, and those new guys in the last Super bowl. Who’s best? And that guy in Seattle? What about him. Aaron has a more than 4-1 touchdowns to interception, and the Seattle guy 3-1 or more. On paper, Aaron is better. And this era. And what would Rogers have done playing for New England, under a master technician in Belichik? We’ll never know.
One thing I do know: stats aren’t everything. There are amazing players that never win the big one. Tony Romo anyone? We’ve seen him play games that dropped jaws. But he couldn’t do it time and again. What makes one person, with all the great skills, not win, and someone like Terry Bradshaw, with all those picks, win 4? Everything. The coaches. The supporting crew. The team. Everything. And something else at the right times.
Now, the last item. Brady and Rogers. I will go with Brady, though I see amazing stats with Rogers. What makes one win 6 (and go to 9) and the other win one (going to two). Someone might say Belichik. Then I would ask why Rogers stays in Green Bay. What makes one person win big and another not is not just stats on paper. It’s something we can’t quantify. Decisions. Choices. Who you surround. Can you motivate others. And so much more.