By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Tom Brady continues to rewrite the history books on a near-weekly basis. Most recently, Brady climbed past Brett Favre on the all-time passing yards list.
Now in the No. 3 overall spot, Brady sits just 17 yards under Peyton Manning for the second spot. Brady’s also now trailing Manning by just 12 for most career touchdown passes of all time. (Brady already owns the record for most passing yards and touchdowns in the regular season and playoffs combined.) While it’s certainly a weighty accomplishment for a quarterback to achieve, Brady predictably wanted to share that glory when asked about it on Monday night.
“I think having a lot of perspective on things like this is where I like to come from. I don’t believe that football is an individual sport, so any individual accomplishment to me is always a team accomplishment,” Brady told Jim Gray on Westwood One. “There’s nothing you can accomplish in football without everybody else doing their job. And I think I’ve always taken the football because of that. I’m not a golfer, I don’t play tennis. You look at some of these individual sports, and yeah it’s amazing, and there’s great accomplishment, but I think the joy in sports for me is the relationships that I’ve built with my teammates, with my coaches and with the organization I’ve represented.
“So because I’ve been fortunate to play in the same place for 20 years with great teammates, I’ve been able to pile up a lot of individual statistics, but the reality for me is all those, I share with all the guys that I’ve played with.”
Brady went so far in offering that praise that he recalled his wife’s famous quote from the immediate aftermath of the Patriots losing Super Bowl XLVI.
“So, you know how my wife said, ‘He cannot throw the ball and catch it’? That’s the truth,” Brady said. “There’s a lot of guys who have been on the other end of catching all of those passes.”
Gray then asked Brady how Wes Welker — the Patriots’ all-time leader in receptions who also dropped a key pass in that Super Bowl loss — would feel about that comment. Brady’s response turned into a love letter to all of his best receivers.
“You know Wes is one of my best friends. He always will be. Wes knows how I feel about him. What an amazing player he was,” Brady answered. “So I look at Wes, I look at Troy Brown, I look at Julian Edelman, and Deion Branch, Randy Moss, Rob Gronkowski, so many guys over the years. All the backs that I’ve played with. It’s pretty amazing. I think I’ve gained a lot of perspective over the years, as I said, and I’m very, very blessed. I love to play this sport, I love to work at it and I love to compete every weekend. And hopefully the fans still enjoy seeing me out there, too.”
Patriots fans surely enjoy seeing the victories continue to pile up, and so does Brady. Now the owner of innumerable NFL records, Brady was asked which record he holds in the highest regard. Once again, the answer was not surprising.
“Well I think the name of the game for me has always been winning, and I think that that’s the one that has and always will mean the most,” Brady said. “The goal every week is to go out there and win, and I know some weeks it doesn’t always look as good as others. But the goal of the game is to win, and I’m just proud of our team and all of the accomplishments we’ve had. Winning as often as we have has made my life on Mondays a hell of a lot better. I can hardly deal with the losses, and we haven’t had nearly as many losses as we’ve had wins. So I deal with the wins a lot better.”
Brady talked about some records that may never be broken, like Jerry Rice’s receiving record. And though Brady didn’t say it himself, it’s unlikely that anybody ever catches his record for most wins by a starting quarterback. Brady owns 212 regular-season wins (and counting), with Peyton Manning ranking second at 186. The highest active player on the wins list is Drew Brees, who with 156 wins would have to go undefeated in his next 56 regular-season starts just to catch up to where Brady is now. Likewise, the 37-year-old injured Ben Roethlisberger is at 144 career wins, meaning he has no chance to catch Brady. Soon-to-be-36-year-old Aaron Rodgers is at 101 wins, meaning he’d have to more than double his career wins total just to get close to Brady’s current level.
And in terms of postseason victories, nobody’s in Brady’s stratosphere. Brady has won 30 games as a starting quarterback in the playoffs, almost twice as many as Joe Montana, who ranks second with 16. Three players — Peyton Manning, Terry Bradshaw, and John Elway — have 14 career playoff wins, with Ben Roethlisberger’s 13 sitting as the second-highest number among active QBs.
The unprecedented level of winning Brady has engineered in New England for two decades likely means that Brady’s spot atop those all-time lists won’t soon be challenged — if ever.
Brady also touched on a number of other topics with Gray.
ON SOME OF THE RECORDS HE’S ENJOYED WATCHING AS THEY’RE MADE …
“Peyton Manning’s 55 touchdowns in one year, I mean that was incredible. I remember watching that, and I had held the record at that point at 50. And he started the year against Baltimore and I think he had six that night, or seven that night. And they just had a prolific offense, to throw 55 in one year. And then what [Patrick] Mahomes did last year, it’s pretty amazing when you have seasons like that [with 50 touchdown passes]. It’s pretty unique and very difficult to do.”
ON THE DEFENSE …
“The one great thing about what’s happening with our team is our defense is playing incredible. We’re not giving up many yards. We’re not giving up hardly any points. It’s just been incredible to watch those guys go out and perform, and get turnovers like they have, give us short fields like they have, give us a lot of opportunities to get on track.”
ON OVERALL FEELINGS ON THE 5-0 PATRIOTS IN 2019 …
“We’re going to be tested here over the next 11 games. … We’re going to need to continue to improve, and we need to be a better team in October than we were in September.”
ON THROWING A RED-ZONE INTERCEPTION IN CONSECUTIVE WEEKS …
“The name of the game is points. That’s what you’re trying to get. Even the last two weeks now, I’ve had two interceptions in the low red area on third down, which are really inexcusable. I mean, I always think of my mistakes, because I think I should complete every pass. But the ones that I don’t complete and the ones that I complete to the other team — meaning interceptions — are the ones that I really lose sleep over. I’ve had two bad decisions and when you do that, you’re keeping points off the board. And because I realize how hard it is for those other teams to score, those are just really inexcusable mistakes. So I have to do a better job taking care of the ball, and sometimes kicking a field goal is good. If we don’t have a great chance to score throwing the ball into the end zone and completing it, then sometimes throwing it away or taking a sack is the best thing to do.”
ON WHICH OF HIS MANY BACKUP QUARTERBACKS WAS THE BEST …
“Aw man, that’s a tough question. You know when Jimmy was with me, he was very young. It was his rookie year. He got a great opportunity with the Niners. He’s still really trying to establish himself and his career, but everything that he has done has been very exceptional. Jacoby Brissett, look what he’s done. Goes to the Chiefs [Sunday night] and wins a game. Matt Cassel had an incredible career. Brian Hoyer’s backing up Jacoby Brissett. There’s just been a lot of great guys that I’ve played with that are still all my great friends, and I watch them and I cheer for them every week. We exchange texts and emails. And again, I think what’s mattered most to me is relationships, the brotherhood that I have with all these guys. So you share this room, it’s a very intimate room, and we’re all competitors and we all want to play, but the guys that move on to other teams, I can see things that we’ve talked about that carry over to other teams. It’s just a great feeling. And I’ll be buddies with these guys for the rest of my life.”