BOSTON (CBS) — Ever since the conclusion of Super Bowl LI, you’ve heard a lot about Tom Brady being the GOAT — the greatest of all time.
It’s only natural, then, to ask some other GOATs in their profession what it is that’s allowed Brady to reach the pinnacle of success in the most important position in professional team sports.
So, the NFL sat down a collection of GOATs — LeBron James, Serena Williams and Michael Phelps — as well as Jordan Spieth (not exactly a GOAT, but a representative of the next potential generation of stars) to ask about Brady’s greatness.
“To see Tom playing some of the best football anybody has ever seen at any age, that’s very inspiring,” James said.
James himself may not have quite achieved GOAT status just yet. But with three NBA titles, four MVPs, 10 All-NBA First Teams, and maybe four solid years of performance left in his career, he’s certainly on his way. And at 32 years old, it seems as though LeBron has been closely following the career of Brady and feels a certain kinship.
“What we’re chasing isn’t just about being great,” James said. “What we’re chasing is about being the greatest of all time.”
“Tom Brady’s legacy is one word: champion,” James added.
Williams has won 23 Grand Slam titles, which is second all time, and she’s also won 14 Grand Slam doubles titles. She’s been doing it since the late ’90s and just won an Australian Open this year, so she can certainly relate to the career path of Brady.
“The hardest part about sustaining greatness over a period of time is people wanting to catch up with you and you having to do things better, you having to surprise people,” Williams said. “You have to — every year — go out and say, ‘I’ve got to do something different, because they’re coming for me.'”
That’s a comment that could directly be applied to Brady’s development as an occasional runner — something that was notably absent from his arsenal for the first 12 or so years of his career but has turned into a secret weapon since 2014.
Back in February 2002, when Williams had already won a U.S. Open, she witnessed the innate greatness of Brady in Super Bowl XXXVI.
“He wasn’t intimidated by the situation,” Williams said of Brady vs. the Rams. “He kind of looked it right in the eye and he was like, ‘I’m going to take you down, and I don’t care who I’m playing against, I don’t care what statistics say. I am going to do this.'”
Phelps, who’s won a record 23 Olympic gold medals in swimming, described what he considers greatness to be.
“You watch Tom Brady, there’s no way he backs down from a challenge,” Phelps said.
Spieth, who won two major tournaments at the age of 21, has gotten to know Brady personally, as both are spokesmen for Under Armour.
“What I think makes Tom Brady great is his mental ability to kind of slow time down and to make decisions so fast,” Spieth said. “Tom Brady’s greatest legacy will be certainly the duration of greatness that he’s displayed in his career. It’s just … it’s insane.”
To Spieth’s point: the golfer was just 8 years old when Brady won his first Super Bowl. Spieth is now the No. 6-ranked golfer in the world … and Brady is the reigning Super Bowl MVP, preparing for another season of MVP-caliber quarterbacking.
As the video’s narrator said, “Maybe the most meaningful way to measure greatness is time.”