It remains difficult to hand over the Greatest of All Time moniker — GOAT status — to Tom Brady.
He’s actually only seventh all-time when it comes to passer rating. Of course, everybody in front of him is active and if each plays as long as he’s played, well, perhaps they’ll fall back. All but two, anyway.
Because 37-year-old Aaron Rodgers is third on the list, and 42-year-old Drew Brees is fifth, and having banked the vast majority of their careers already, Brady’s unlikely to pass them.
He may be stuck with nothing but Super Bowls to make his case.
He’s played in 10 of them, won seven of them and been named MVP in five of them.
Despite all that, Brady’s never appealed to me as the quarterback who will find a way to beat you, no matter the odds, which has long been my metric, which is why my guy remains John Elway.
Ironically, Elway is a living, breathing argument to disregard passer rating entirely, a list upon which he ranks 84th.
Nonetheless, same roster, same coaches, guy taking the snaps the only variable, I’ll take Elway over Brady, even while agreeing, among quarterbacks, Brady must be the GOAT.
Objectively, you simply can’t give it to anybody else … unless you want to open it up to all positions, in which case I’ll take Jerry Rice, who played his position better than anybody has ever played theirs.
But that’s not why we're here today. Not really.
The most amazing thing about Tom Brady may not be his overall career, but the fact he’s operating as well as he pretty much ever has as a 43-year-old.
Brady’s 40 TD passes trailed only Rodgers’ 48 this past regular season. His 4,633 passing yards trailed only Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes. His 12 completions of 40 or more yards trailed only Rodgers, Kyler Murray and Ryan Tannehill.
It’s a little annoying.
It’s the most awe-inspiring facet of Brady’s ridiculous and ongoing career.
It is not, however, unprecedented, and that’s what this is about.
Here’s a reminder of some old guys who did some pretty amazing things themselves.
• Nolan Ryan pitched his seventh and final no-hitter at the ripe young age of 44, striking out 16 Toronto Blue Jays on his way into yet more history on May 1, 1991.
A Ranger for the last one, he was an Angel for the first one, thrown 18 years earlier, on May 15, 1973, a 3-0 victory over the Kansas City Royals.
• Gordie Howe played his final NHL season as a 51-year-old for the Hartford Whalers, scoring 15 goals, collecting 26 assists, playing in all 80 games, collecting a plus-minus of 9, meaning that at even strength, his team scored nine more goals than the other team the length of the season when Howe was on the ice.
Eleven years earlier, a Detroit Red Wing at the time, a 40-year-old Howe collected 103 points — 44 goals, 59 assists — 20 more than any other 40-something in NHL history.
• Jamie Moyer was 47 the night he became the oldest major leaguer to throw a shutout, hurling Philadelphia past Atlanta 7-0 on May 7, 2010. He threw 105 pitches, allowed two hits, struck out four and walked none.
• Twelve years after his last major league appearance as a 46 year-old for the St. Louis Browns, Satchel Paige pitched three innings for the Kansas City Athletics at age 58 against the Boston Red Sox. He allowed one hit, no runs and struck out one.
As a 45-year old in 1952 for the Browns, he went 12-10 and saved 10 games with a 3.07 earned run average, striking out 91 over 138 innings. Starting six games, he completed three of them.
• Chris Chelios actually led the NHL with a plus-minus of 40 as a 40-year-old, helping lead the Red Wings to the 2002 Stanley Cup. He played eight more seasons. As a 46-year-old he was still logging 17 minutes of ice time per game.
• Julius Boros was 48 when he won the 1968 PGA at Pecan Valley in San Antonio; Jack Nicklaus 46 when he won the 1986 Masters at Augusta National; Tiger Woods 43 when he won the 2019 Masters; Tom Watson 59 when he lost the Open Championship in a playoff to Stewart Cink at Turnberry in 2009.
• Jaromir Jagr, who played all 82 games, scoring 16 goals and dishing 30 assists as a 44-year-old during the 2016-17 NHL season for the Florida Panthers, continues to play professional hockey to this day, for HC Kladno, the team he also owns in his native Czech Republic.
Sports are timeless.