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With Seven Super Bowl Rings, Where Does Tom Brady Fall In The Pantheon Of The Greatest Athletes Ever?




Tom Brady #12 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hoists the Vince Lombardi Trophy after winning Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium on February 07, 2021 in Tampa, Florida.
Tom Brady #12 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hoists the Vince Lombardi Trophy after winning Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium on February 07, 2021 in Tampa, Florida.
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

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Tom Brady has never been the fastest guy on the field, or the most athletically-talented.

In the 2000 NFL Combine, Brady ran a sluggish 5.28 40-yard-dash, good for second-slowest in the QB class that year. And despite holding several all-time passing records. Brady has only led the league in passing yards three times and in touchdowns four times during his 21 year career in the NFL. But after dismantling Patrick Mahomes and the juggernaut Kansas City Chiefs 31-9 in Super Bowl LV on Sunday night, there is little debate that Tom Brady is one of the greatest athletes in the history of sport. Brady now owns seven Super Bowl rings -- more than any of the 32 NFL franchises, including his former team, the New England Patriots.

Despite having spent the majority of his career as the favorite to win, the odds were unusually stacked against Brady and his Tampa Bay Buccaneers heading into the Super Bowl. He was in his first season in Tampa, under a different coach than the one with whom he had partnered to win six Super Bowls between 2001 and 2019, and facing the defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs, who were favored by 3.5 points in Vegas ahead of the kickoff and led by a quarterback in Patrick Mahomes that many believe could rival or even eclipse Brady’s legacy when his career is done. But as he has done so many times before when the lights shine brightest, Brady played masterfully, limited his mistakes and kept his cool on football’s biggest stage to win yet another Super Bowl ring and the first for Tampa Bay since 2002.

Today on AirTalk, we’ll explore where Tom Brady fits in the pantheon of the greatest athletes of all time, and how his greatness and sustained success compares to the idea of athletic greatness we ascribe to others like Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, Lebron James, the Williams sisters or Michael Phelps, who are more known for their dominant athletic prowess than Brady, who is lauded for his continued success and ability to win.

Guests: 

Kavitha A. Davidson, host of “The Lead” podcast from The Athletic and Wondery Media; she tweets @kavithadavidson

Andrew Beaton, sports reporter for The Wall Street Journal covering the NFL; he tweets @andrewlbeaton