With Tom Brady’s departure from the NFL The sports media’s commentariat is likely to revisit all the old scandals of cheating and fraud that arose during his time in the league. “He deflated footballs,” they’ll claim. “They filmed the opposing team’s signals,” they’ll say. In attempting to minimize his accomplishments through blaming these scandals shows an unintentional misunderstood of what it takes to be exceptional — a notion that might have been in place prior to the advent in the rise of Tom Brady but no longer is applicable.
What is truly great other than the ability for “cheat” and get away from it? When you get to the top levels of sport there is a talent for everyone. The majority of them have a goal of winning that people can’t achieve. What sets the famous apart from the only excellent? Talent in athletics? Sure, in some instances. Michael Jordan or LeBron James certainly excelled in this fashion. However, Tom Brady fundamentally changed what the term “greatness” means with his win-at-all costs mindset that included occasionally, deviating from rules to his advantage.
This isn’t to suggest that Tom Brady isn’t talented. He was a hard worker and threw with precision and had the drive to beat the odds. However, his ability to combine traditional techniques with clever ability and a keen eye for every advantage, pushing the boundaries of the rules and adjusting each time he was in trouble, made him the best quarterback ever.
Consider an example of the “deflategate” scandal. Based on dubious proof, the player was sanctioned for four games as the league was fed up with the player and wanted to convey a clear message that any infraction he might have committed was beyond the norm. What was he able to accomplish? He did even better and led his team to a record-setting comeback victory at Super Bowl LI. In this and many other instances Brady proved that his greatness isn’t tangible, it’s those breathtaking moment in the form of “How can he keep doing this?” that are the hallmark of Brady’s life at every turn. When I was a child living in Massachusetts and a long-time Patriots enthusiast the moments I experienced wouldn’t have been as memorable for me, without the constant accusation of cheating, which made it more memorable every time he proved to everyone that he was a winner regardless of the situation.
You may argue about the merits of different accusations of cheating all you wish. However, it’s all part the healthy ecosystem of sports. cheating, being arrested, suffering the consequences and then relearning to triumph over and over. In the Brady case He proved repeatedly that he was able to recover, whether it was by discovering new ways to break the rules or by improving in his “traditional” football acumen. There were points in his career that he might not be the best quarterback, but his capacity to make use of all the tools available in his arsenal — including among the many, pushing the limits of the rules to outdo his rivals is the type of dynamism which only a GOAT skilled.