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Greg Oliver: No argument anymore, Brady is the greatest

I’ll admit it took a while for me to come around on Tom Brady being the greatest NFL quarterback of all time.

Greg Oliver has been a staff writer at The Journal since 1994 and has written a weekly sports column since 2004. Write to him at [email protected]

I grew up in the era of signal callers such as Roger Staubach, Terry Bradshaw, Joe Montana, Fran Tarkenton, Ken Stabler and Bob Griese. Later on, it was Jim Kelly, John Elway, Dan Marino, Troy Aikman, Steve Young and Brett Favre, followed by Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers and now Patrick Mahomes.

Comparing past and present players is always tricky because the game was played differently long ago. But Tom Brady showed Sunday night in Super Bowl LV why he will go down as the greatest quarterback to play the game. After leaving New England last year after more than two decades, Brady took his six Super Bowl championships to Tampa Bay — a team that didn’t even make the playoffs a year ago.

Although the Buccaneers made a few free-agent moves that included bringing New England teammate Rob Gronkowski to the Sunshine State, it’s safe to say Tampa Bay wouldn’t have sniffed the Super Bowl without him and the leadership he brought. It was the perfect marriage, as Brady needed a change of scenery after six Super Bowl titles in New England, and Tampa Bay needed a leader with a winning pedigree.

Few quarterbacks, if any, have had Brady’s drive, and they certainly haven’t had the ability to continue playing at a high level even after turning 40. NFL quarterbacks are fortunate if they can last 15 seasons, and even then there is a considerable drop-off from the early years. But Brady has shown by taking care of his body that his goal of playing until at least 45 is more probable now than ever.

When struggling at times this season, and critics saying that Tampa couldn’t put it together in time to win a championship, Brady and the Bucs proved the critics wrong by blowing past Washington, New Orleans, Green Bay and Kansas City to win it all.

With seven Super Bowl titles, Brady now has more Vince Lombardi trophies than both Pittsburgh and New England, who lead the NFL with six titles each. Even though many feel this would be a good time to step down, smell the roses and spend more time with his family, Brady said following his latest title conquest he will be back next year. No one ever doubted that for a second.

When it comes to the greatest of all time, there are things that have to be measured along with talent. Sure, Brady has lots of talent, but he also possesses a drive — a fire in his belly that is coupled with the amazing ability to stay in tip top physical condition at an age when many athletes are well past their playing prime.

While the old saying goes that Father Time is undefeated when it comes to athletes eventually reaching the end of their careers, I’m not betting against Brady.