Rob Long: Time To Pass The Baton

For nearly all of my life Joe Montana was the greatest Super Bowl player of all time. No one has ever been able to do the things that I witnessed Montana do. He was the man. He caught my attention in college winning the famous “Chicken Noodle Soup” game for Notre Dame in the 1979 Cotton Bowl. He was, to me, the quarterback by which all others are compared. I was stubborn about that. There was NOTHING anyone else could do to change my mind. I would take that opinion to the grave.

Then, Sunday, February 6, 2017 happened.

After Tevin Coleman caught a 6-yard touchdown pass from Matt Ryan, I had this uneasy feeling in my gut. No, it wasn’t the bourbon that I had consumed. That was actually REALLY good. I prefer it neat, three fingers. It’s my inner Frank Sinatra.

Oh, where was I? Yeah, with the Atlanta Falcons sporting 28-3 lead, and all of the New England Patriot haters began rejoicing, I could only look at the clock and know Tom Brady wasn’t done. No, I didn’t predict the epic comeback that we all witnessed, but I just wasn’t comfortable. Number 12 is pretty good (understatement) and I just don’t see him packing his bags facing a 25-point deficit. In fact, you probably made him angry and that isn’t good.

Brady and company were absolutely surgical during their comeback against the Falcons. Tom Brady “quietly” passed for 466 yards and gracefully recovered from Robert Alford’s pick 6 in the second quarter. Brady and the Patriots walked the Falcons down to capture their fifth Super Bowl championship. In the process, Brady became the greatest quarterback of all time. Yes, you’ll hear arguments that include everything from “he played in a weak era” to “he’s a cheater” but this man is the absolute greatest of all-time and I don’t even like him.

No quarterback has EVER been able to lead a team with the different rosters he’s had. He’s done this all in the salary cap/free agent era as well. There have been different running backs, wide receivers and tight ends, but Tom Brady has always been there. Bill Belichick has traded away players and watched players leave due to free agency but one thing has been consistent and that’s the man under center, or in the shotgun like last night.

Think about it, Terry Bradshaw won four titles with essentially the same roster year in and year out. There were several great players on those teams too. Montana did not have Jerry Rice for his first two Super Bowls but he did for his final two and that says something. Brady did not win it with Randy Moss. He went undefeated in the regular season but did not hoist up the Lombardi Trophy. He did win it with Chris Hogan on the field and Rob Gronkowski in street close on the sidelines.

It’s not the “system,” it’s Tom Brady. Belichick wins games without him but does not win championships without him. Enjoy it while it lasts because while he’s still the best, he’s 39 years old so it could end any day now but for now, we are witnessing greatness. No… we are witnessing the GREATEST OF ALL-TIME.

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