Whether you want to count how many championships he’s won, gawk at the fact that he’s essentially had two hall-of-fame careers, or just marvel at the endless highlight reel of heroic moments, it’s hard to argue against Tom Brady being the greatest of all time (aka the GOAT).
Brady has two more titles than any other football player in history and has somehow managed to elongate his career into his mid-40s, an unprecedented run that no quarterback can come close to matching.
- Tom Brady is the NFL’s all-time leader in passing yards, touchdowns, and quarterback wins
- He’s been part of seven Super Bowl titles, including several iconic comebacks or late-game drives to close out tight victories
- No quarterback has managed to ever maintain this high level of excellence for so long. The next oldest quarterback in the league to start a game in 2022 was Aaron Rodgers who is six years younger than Brady.
Highest Number of Rings Won
This may be the most simplistic answer and the, “count the rings” retort that has become a fixture in sports talk and debate shows over the last decade or so is tiresome to me. Ring culture and this idea that it’s the only way to measure a player’s success have become the key talking point in the NBA while also creeping into NFL discourse more and more. 
Football’s a brutal game, even with improved safety equipment and new rules meant to reduce the risk of injury, particularly to quarterbacks, a football player’s shelf life is generally a short one. Brady has not only continued to play into his mid-40s, he’s continued to perform like a top-10 quarterback.
Rodgers may be one of the best quarterbacks of the era, but it’s absurd to consider him coming even close to matching what Brady has done over the last six years.
By all rights, Brady should be retired. The next oldest quarterbacks to start games in the NFL are Vinny Testaverde, Doug DeBerg, and Doug Flutie who were all 44. 
Testaverde was a career journeyman who enjoyed a decent career but was far from a high-end starter. 
DeBerg had been retired for five seasons, returning briefly for three games including one start. 
Doug Flutie was a nice story, well remembered for his small stature and scrappy playstyle, but he was little more than a stopgap at the position. 
Quarterbacks should not be putting up top-10 passing numbers at 40, to say nothing of 45. But Brady has famously kept himself in tremendous shape with a 100th-percentile work ethic that has allowed him to continue to play at the highest level. 
The Statistical Case
That long career and good injury luck, means Brady has climbed to the top of most of the NFL’s passing records. He’s the all-time leader in passing yards, touchdowns, and quarterback wins in both the regular and postseason. 
Surprisingly, Brady doesn’t have the most regular season MVP trophies. That honor goes to his rival Peyton Manning who has five compared to Brady’s three. And while some of Manning’s individual regular season performances rival Brady’s, Brady’s elevated play in the postseason sets him apart.
In a team game like football, it can be challenging to separate the individual from the team, even though quarterbacks have a huge influence on the outcome of a game. Brady has been surrounded by an excellent coaching staff and has enjoyed the presence of a solid to great defense more often than not.
Even if you broke up Brady’s career by decade, you’d still have two sure-fire hall-of-fame resumes. 
- 2000-2011: 45,264 yards. 338 touchdowns. 3 Super Bowl Championships
- 2012-2021: 52,305 yards. 372 touchdowns. 4 Super Bowl Championships
I love Peyton Manning, but there’s no way he wouldn’t give up several years in the NFL for either of these ten-year runs. Brady had help to be sure, but he was the fulcrum of two decades of constant success.
We’ve compared numbers, championships, and eras as best we can. And while trying to determine how Peyton Manning’s career would have played out in New England or Brady’s in Indianapolis is purely speculative. It’s not just that Brady has won the most titles and five Super Bowl MVPs.
The guy has some of the most memorable moments in NFL history. You remember the biggest players in the biggest games, and there’s no denying that the last twenty years have been filled with countless clutch Brady moments. None are bigger than the unreal 28-3 comeback against Atlanta. The biggest comeback in Super Bowl history.
After the Falcons scored with 8:31 left in the third to give the Falcons the 25-point lead, here’s how the Patriots’ offensive drives went:
- Touchdown: 13 plays, 75 yards
- Field Goal: 12 plays, 72 yards
- Touchdown: 5 plays, 25 yards
- Touchdown: 10 plays, 91 yards
- Touchdown (OT): 8 plays, 75 yards 
Brady finished the game with 466 yards passing, a Super Bowl record until he topped 500 yards against the Eagles in 2018. Brady’s career is filled with moments that even successful NFL quarterbacks can’t come close to matching. Peyton Manning is probably the second most celebrated quarterback in the NFL over the same period, but he can’t come close to the laundry list of achievements Brady has.
Think about Brady’s game-winning drive in the final five minutes to beat the Seahawks in 2014. Or the two-minute drills he orchestrated in 2002 and 2004 to defeat the Rams and Panthers for his first two titles. 
Not to mention the number of successful quarterbacks and teams that could have won multiple titles if Brady hadn’t been standing in his way.
How many more championships could Ben Roethlisberger, Peyton Manning, Phillip Rivers, and all of his other peers have had if not for Brady? This wasn’t an era of subpar quarterbacks and teams, Brady and the Patriots simply outclassed them again and again.
But when you rack up his championships, gaudy passing numbers, and countless iconic moments, it’s difficult to dispute who the G.O.A.T is.