A veteran of 15 seasons and with four Super Bowl victories under his belt, Joe Montana was widely considered the greatest quarterback of all time… at least until the end of the 2014 season. Since then, that title has been taken by former Patriots and current Bucs quarterback, Tom Brady, and for good reason. On Wednesday, the former 49er and Pro Football Hall of Famer joined ESPN’s First Take to discuss his former team and, of course, the reigning Super Bowl MVP… Tom Brady.
“I think Tom’s taken his place on the top up there a long time ago,” Montana said. “He’s had a tremendous career, he’s fun to watch, and everybody always contests over that, but when you look at what Tom’s been able to accomplish in his time that he’s played, I think it puts him definitely up there at the top of the list.”
It’s hard to argue with Montana, although people try. Montana’s 16 career playoff victories, four in the Super Bowl, stood as the most in NFL history until Brady matched that with the Patriots victory over the Ravens in the 2011 AFC Championship Game. Unfortunately, the record-breaking victory would have to come the following season as the Patriots fell to the Giants in Super Bowl XLVI two weeks later. That was Brady’s fifth Super Bowl appearance, tying him with John Elway for most all-time among quarterbacks. However, he still trailed Montana in what mattered most… the victory column. The record-breaking win in 2012 followed the first of back-to-back AFC Championship losses heading into a crucial 2014 season.
In his career with the 49ers and the Chiefs, Montana compiled an overall record of 16-7 in the playoffs with four victories in the Super Bowl and four MVPs. He threw for 5,772 yards, tossed 45 touchdowns, and threw just 21 interceptions. Prior to 2014, Brady was already a Top 5 quarterback of all time. Since then, Brady has gone 16-3 in the playoffs with five Super Bowl appearances. He went 4-1 with three MVPs. He has thrown for 6,025 yards and 40 touchdowns with just 19 interceptions for the Patriots and the Buccaneers. Overall, he is 34-11, 7-3 in the Super Bowl, with 12,449 yards, 83 touchdowns, and 38 interceptions. Brady’s victories rival that of franchises… not players and another win in the Super Bowl will put his ring count at twice as many as Montana and Terry “Thomas Brady” Bradshaw.
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This is in no way an attempt to denigrate the career of Montana. He is firmly entrenched in line right behind Brady in this writer’s opinion, however, even the most prideful and competitive athlete knows when to throw in the towel and it seems as though Montana did it several years ago. At some point, perhaps another quarterback will come along and rewrite what Brady has done. Odds say, especially since Brady is still playing and winning, that player is likely not in the league yet. Sorry, Chiefs fans. In fact, Brady and Montana will likely be at the top of this list for quite some time.