Patriots owner Robert Kraft opened up the floodgates of debate Friday. Kraft went on the record saying his quarterback, Tom Brady, is even better than Joe Montana, meaning he is the greatest quarterback of all time.
The proclamation predictably set off a firestorm of debate from NFL pundits from all over the country.
So was Kraft right? Is the Patriots signal caller the greatest of all time? One thing’s for sure, it’s surely debatable.
In this debate, however, there is one thing that is not debatable, the two greatest quarterbacks of all time are Joe Montana of the 49ers and later the Chiefs and Tom Brady of the Patriots. It’s who comes first that’s the question.
No two quarterbacks in the history of the league have had the success in terms of wins and individual statistics than Brady and Montana, but lets take a closer look at the numbers.
We will start with numbers that are weighed the heaviest, postseason stats.
Montana posted a career 16-7 record in the postseason that includes a 4-0 record in the Super Bowl to go along with three Super Bowl MVP awards, the most of all time. Montana’s four Super Bowl wins are also tied with Terry Bradshaw for the most all time by a quarterback. In the Super Bowl Montana threw 11 touchdowns in four appearances to no interceptions.
Brady’s postseason numbers are also mind boggling as he currently sports a 16-6 career playoff record with a 3-2 record in the Super Bowl and a pair of Super Bowl MVP Awards. Brady is tied with John Elway for the most Super Bowl appearances of all time. He also holds the Super Bowl record for most completions, yards, touchdowns and consecutive completions.
Montana also holds a 45-38 edge in career postseason touchdown passes.
In the postseason it’s all about the rings so Montana has the edge there.
That brings us to regular season statistics, where Brady holds an edge thanks to 39,979 yards passing with 300 touchdowns, the single season touchdown pass record (50) and a pair of MVP awards. Montana compiled 40,551 yards passing with 273 touchdowns in three more seasons. Brady figures to pass Montana on the all time passing list by week three at the latest.
One can argue that Brady’s numbers are a bit skewed because of the era he plays in. Rules have been changed, especially recently, to make passing easier and Brady has certainly benefitted from that. Montana played his prime in 80’s where the game was much more cutthroat and offenses weren’t as wide open.
Brady also plays in the salary cap era, where it has been much more difficult to win and build powerhouse teams the way the 49ers were in the 80’s. The salary cap is what makes the Patriots recent success mos
One can also argue that Montana had more weapons to throw to. Montana had Jerry Rice for the majority of his career, the greatest receiver and maybe even the greatest football player of all time. Montana, however, won his first of four Super Bowl titles before Rice came into the league.
While Brady certainly had weapons, none compare to Rice, even the 2007 version of Randy Moss. On the Patriots three Super Bowl teams Brady came out on top with a mediocre receiving core. But if he wins another, the Patriots quarterback will boast one of the best receiving cores in the league.
But when it comes down to it Brady has superior regular season numbers so he gets the nod there.
When it comes to raw talent wise it’s a tossup. Brady has a bigger arm, Montana was far more mobile and both have uncanny decision making abilities.
That leaves us with signature plays, and Montana is tough to beat in that category. The 49ers great has “The Catch” from the 1982 NFC Championship game when he scrambled right and hit tight end Dwight Clark in the back of the end zone to clinch a Super Bowl berth late in the fourth quarter. He also hit wide receiver John Taylor with the winning touchdown pass late in Super Bowl XXIII against the Bengals.
Brady has a few signature moments himself, not counting the tuck rule. In Super Bowl XXXVI Brady hit Troy Brown with a dart over the middle to move the Patriots into position for the game winning field goal. He also got the Patriots into game winning field goal range in Super Bowl XXXVIII as well.
When push comes to shove it’s tough to argue against a 4-0 record in the Super Bowl. Kraft wasn’t far off, but right now Montana still has to be considered the greatest quarterback of all time, but Tom Brady is inching closer and closer with each year.