The G.O.A.T. Debate

Good morning everyone. It’s week two of the off-season and that means we’re another week closer to NFL Football. I know, still a long way to go. I was wondering what to write about this week when I settled on a debate that has been raging since time out of mind. I don’t expect this post to settle the debate, but maybe it will help a few people look at it differently.

Obviously, the GOAT is the greatest of all time. It’s applied to several positions, but none are more polarizing than that of Quarterback. Jerry Rice is generally accepted as the greatest receiver. Jim Brown is often named best running back. Lawrence Taylor usually has greatest defender wrapped up. But, go to ten different cities and you’ll probably get ten different answers on quarterbacks.

The problem is that people associate rings with greatness. Tom Brady is usually mentioned high on anyone’s list, as are Joe Montana, John Elway, Peyton Manning, etc. Guys with rings get the glory even though football is a team sport. Any single person I named above wouldn’t be in the discussion without their team playing well. A quarterback can only do so much. Tom Brady doesn’t come back from 25 down if his defense doesn’t get stops. But you don’t hear about that. You hear about how Brady came back from 25 down. That’s why I think it’s foolish to judge the greatest of all time on rings. There’s so much more than a quarterback that goes into winning a Super Bowl.

Stats are the next thing people bring up. Guys like Favre, Marino, Brees, Rodgers, etc. These guys have great stats, so they have to be the best. But I think that’s wrong too. If you look at stats, they only get better the longer we go on. If you look at the top ten passing yards leaders, you see only three names of guys that played the majority of their careers before 2004, when the league made it even easier to pass. We discount guys like Unitas, Starr, Baugh, Jurgensen, and so forth because their stats aren’t as good as the guys today. Is that fair that they played the game at a time when running was more emphasized? I would argue that the quarterbacks of today wouldn’t make it back then. They’re so pampered that the hits they would have received would have taken them out of the game. Maybe I’m wrong, but the older players didn’t have the protection the guys have now. That allows them to pile up impressive stats and have longevity they otherwise wouldn’t.

Which means what exactly? My contention is you can’t have a GOAT when it comes to quarterbacks. What they accomplished is dependent on the era they were in. Do Manning or Brady throw 5000 yards in the 80’s? Does Favre have his streak if he plays in the 60’s? Do Unitas and Starr have better stats if they play in the 10’s? Who knows? But I think the quarterback debate needs to be broken down by decade. That way, it’s fair to all the greats that have played. Will it ever give us a consensus on who the best was? No. But was it ever going to be decided anyway?

Anyway, thanks for reading my rant and let me know what you guys think. I’ll talk to you guys next week.

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