By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Tom Brady won his fifth Super Bowl and his fourth Super Bowl MVP Award last weekend, thus putting to bed any debate about which quarterback is the greatest of all time.
Or so we thought.
Legendary 49ers quarterback Joe Montana, the previous holder of that title prior to Brady’s Super Bowl victories in two of the past three years, was asked if Brady is the best quarterback to ever play the game.
Montana said a lot of things in response. but he didn’t say “yes.”
“I mean, he’s obviously having a tremendous career,” Montana said of Brady. “And I just think that it’s really hard to put anyone in that bucket. And even before he got five, you look back to some of the guys, like 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 [they were] so far ahead of their time. And it’s hard to compare guys from then to now, and how they would compare here and how we would compare back then.”
Montana said that because of those difficult parameters, he can’t even say that he himself is the greatest of all time.
“I still can’t say that, even though people say that and I appreciate it, I still can’t say that of myself because of, just, what I said,” Montana answered.
The interview, which was conducted with The Hallmark Channel of all places, included Montana’s wife, who interrupted at this point to say, “At home, you’re saying that all the time! … We are reminded constantly.”
While yes, comparing anyone in the modern era to Sammy Baugh in the ’30s and ’40s is difficult, here’s how Brady’s and Montana’a postseason stats compare:
25-9 record, 62.7% passing, 9,094 yards
63 TDs, 31 INTs, 2.03 TD-to-INT ratio
Seven fourth-quarter comebacks, 10 game-winning drives
Seven conference championships, five Super Bowl victories
16-7 record, 62.7 percent passing, 5,772 yards
45 TDs, 21 INTs, 2.14 TD-to-INT ratio
Five fourth-quarter comebacks, five game-winning drives
Four conference championships, four Super Bowl victories
It’s worth noting that even though Brady has spoken many times about Montana being his football hero while growing up in the Bay Area, Montana has not expressed much of a desire to help build the legend of Brady. He stated two years ago that Brady ordered DeflateGate, at a time when Brady was facing scrutiny from all angles. He also spoke of Brady’s guilt in the deflated football accusations rather matter-of-factly, suggesting that Brady just “pay up and move on.” Later, Montana was critical of Brady for not putting the “scandal” behind him as quickly as possible.
So, if ever anyone might question what Brady might have stored up on his “ready to read” folder on his iPad to get him inspired for Lombardi Trophy No. 6, it turns out that Montana might be an unwitting contributor.