Any debate about the greatest quarterback in NFL history has effectively been rendered pointless with Tom Brady’s continued dominance – that much we know.
Now coming off his fifth Super Bowl win, the New England Patriots superstar is almost certainly the best to have ever done it. Could he also be right up there with the legends across all team sports?
As he continues to approach that territory, Brady gave a nod to another all-time great in a recent interview with ESPN.
“I was in awe of Michael Jordan,” Brady said, “and I still am in awe of what he was and what he meant. … He was such an effortless player. He put a lot of effort in, but there’s an art and a beauty to the way he played the game. That was a very inspiring thing.”
The logical assumption is that Brady still has some work to do before he reaches the level of greatness long owned by “His Airness,” and that may be true. But the comparison really isn’t as crazy as you might think.
Let’s break it down with a few numbers:
One of the most impressive things about Brady’s career to this point has been his longevity. In a sport where it’s commonplace to see players fall off in their early 30s, Brady’s maintaining an elite level of play at he closes in on 40. He’s just a different breed.
Regular-season winning percentage
The difference in the two sports stands as a factor in this comparison, but this stat demonstrates Brady’s consistent dominance as well as any other. New England has won double-digit games in all but one of his 15 years as the full-time starter. That just isn’t fair.
After getting the occasional nod early in his career, Brady eventually emerged as a perennial Pro Bowler. Jordan was named to every All-Star team in the seasons he played, save for the 1994-1995 campaign in which he made his return from a brief baseball stint for the last 17 games of the year.
The argument can be made that Brady has been deserving of this award on more than two occasions to this point in his career, but even approaching Jordan’s territory in this regard would be a tall task. For the vast majority of his pro career, there was no debate about who was the best player in the NBA.
For Brady to get to the big stage so consistently in a league where every playoff game presents a win-or-go-home scenario is downright unbelievable. And he might not be done, either.
Jordan was at his best under the brightest lights, leading the Bulls to a perfect 6-for-6 in NBA Finals and accomplishing the feat without even being taken to a Game 7. Brady and the Patriots came up short on two occasions, each time falling to the Giants.
Finals/Super Bowl MVPs
Both Brady and Jordan hold the all-time records in their respective sports for Finals MVP awards. GOATs, indeed.
Playing career earnings
Brady: $196 million
Jordan: $93 million
Brady edges out Jordan in career earnings largely due to their respective eras.
Brady: $180 million
Jordan: $1.2 billion
*Estimated numbers via CelebrityNetworth.com
Jordan separates himself from Brady and every other athlete in history in this regard. Among his most notable ventures aside from an already lucrative playing career are big-name endorsement deals, including Nike and Gatorade, and a majority stake in the Charlotte Hornets. Brady’s net worth pales in comparison, but let’s not forget the family ties here. With supermodel wife Gisele Bundchen worth a projected $360 million, the combined total is still staggering.
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