Tom Brady’s childhood idol is one of the few people who isn’t ready to proclaim Brady the best ever.
Hall of Fame 49ers quarterback Joe Montana, whom Brady has called his favorite player of all time, said he can’t declare Brady the best ever because he doesn’t think players from different eras can be properly compared.
“I think that it’s really hard to put anyone in that bucket,” Montana said. “Even before he got five — you look back to some of the guys some people don’t even know, Sammy Baugh or Otto Graham, I can’t remember which one but one of them won like seven or nine championships and so far ahead of their time. It’s so hard to compare guys from then to now, how they would compare here and how we would compare back then.”
For the record, Graham is the quarterback who won seven championships, four with the Browns in the All-America Football Conference and then three more after the AAFC folded and the Browns moved to the NFL. Baugh was a two-time NFL champion and perhaps the greatest example of a player who simply can’t be compared to today’s quarterbacks: Baugh was not only a quarterback who led the NFL in passing yards four times, but also a punter who led the NFL in punting average five times and a defensive back who led the NFL in interceptions once.
Asked if he could call himself the best ever, Montana demurred.
“I still can’t say that of myself because of just what I said,” Montana said.
At that point in the interview, Montana’s wife interjected that Montana does call himself the greatest when they’re alone at home. Perhaps Montana is just putting on a modest face by declining to answer the question.
Quick history lesson.
The 1960 Presidential Debate between JFK and Richard Nixon was the first ever televised debate. Depending on if you watched on tv or listen on the radio completely changed how you interpreted the debate. People who listened on the radio thought Nixon did a lot better than he actually did because you couldn't see how he looked and was acting. Basically Nixon looked horrible because he just got out of the hospital, seemed very nervous and not ready for the stage. While Kennedy was confident and looked great like Kennedys do. But if you just heard the audio you couldn't really tell.
Why did I tell you that?
Well because I think in this situation the same applies. Like the 1960 debate, having video totally changes how Montana's argument is interpreted. The article about what was said and the video tell two different stories. In the written version you can't see how they're all acting (obviously). Joe spends the whole time basically saying you can't compare eras, and because of that he doesn't want to call anybody the best ever. But at the end of the interview his wife pretty much leaves Cool Joe out to dry by saying something along the line of "that's not what you say at home" when he's talking about how you can't say he or anybody else is the best because you can't compare different eras. Joe then says "don't you forget it". Even though you can tell they're laughing IMO it looks he truly means it and thinks he's the best.
Had I not seen the video maybe I'd believe Joe that he thinks you can't compare eras, but after seeing it and how it ended with his wife I can tell that he definitely does say he's the greatest at home where he doesn't have to put on the same fake act that every QB seems to put on when talking to the media. At home he probably ask for his wife to make lunch and when she's like Joe can you wait a few minutes I'm busy he'll be like "you're really going to make the greatest QB ever wait for a sandwich?"
But I think deep down he knows he's been surpassed. For like 30 years everybody has been calling Joe Montana the best of all time. It's not a crown he wants to lose. After Brady tied him with 4 Super Bowl wins two years ago, Montana could still hold on to the fact that he was tied with Brady and never lost in a Super Bowl, something Brady has done twice. But being the ultra competitor that I'm assuming he is he's never going to admit that Brady has passed him. Instead of conceding he can just be like.. you know I really think it's unfair to compare eras. When everybody knows that how sports work, that's what people do. Every era has it's advantages and disadvantages. People are more athletic now then they were in previous eras and it's only going to keep evolving. A 220 pound offensive linemen from the 1960's wouldn't make a NFL team in 2017. When Joe played free agency didn't really exist, but teams could get away with a lot more physical play. When Otto Graham played I'm pretty sure there were like 10 teams, it was a lot easier to win a championship when the pool is smaller. That's why the Celtics won 8 straight championships in the 50's-60's, the NBA had way less teams so there were less chances of someone being able to bring you down.
So if you wanna keep lying to yourself and say you can't compare eras go at it, because you can. But Brady is the best ever, and it takes nothing away from you, you had a brilliant career but right now Brady is the greatest and I don't think it's even close.