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Tom Brady “in awe of Michael Jordan”, trying to join rare company as 6-time champion

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Can the Patriots quarterback reach new heights?

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has five Super Bowl titles in his pocket, tied with Hall of Fame edge defender Charles Haley for the most by a player in NFL history. As always, Brady’s favorite Super Bowl isn’t any of his previous championships- his favorite ring is the next one.

“The great part is the next one for me is No. 6,” Brady said in an interview with ESPN, “and I'm not on No. 1. I'm trying to reach No. 6 and I'm on No. 5. If I got to No. 6, that would have great meaning to me. It's not trying to keep up with my idols. It's not Magic, Jeter, Mariano [Rivera], Kobe, Duncan, guys more my age who I always admired. I just want to win because I owe it to my teammates. I'm working this year like I have none, and hopefully it results in a magical season.”

There are a handful of players in North American sports that have won five or more titles since the NFL merger in 1970. There’s only Brady and Haley in the NFL. There’s the 1990s and 2000s New York Yankees team in the MLB, with David Cone, Derek Jeter, Paul O’Neill, Andy Pettitte, and Mariano Rivera, in addition to Catfish Hunter. In the NHL, there are 20 players that were a part of the Montreal Canadiens’ string of six Stanley Cups in nine years from 1970-78 (which was a greater part of 10 Stanley Cups from 1964-78) or the Edmonton Oiler’s run of five Stanley Cup championships in seven seasons from 1983-89.

In the NBA, there’s the Magic Johnson-led Lakers, which won five from 1980-88, and the Kobe Bryant-led Lakers, which won five from 2000-10, and the Tim Duncan-led Spurs, which won five from 1999-2014.

But the champion that sticks out to Brady is Michael Jordan, whose Bulls won the NBA title six times from 1991-98.

“I was in awe of Michael Jordan,” Brady said in an interview with ESPN, “and I still am in awe of what he was and what he meant. ... He was such an effortless player. He put a lot of effort in, but there's an art and a beauty to the way he played the game. That was a very inspiring thing.”

As Brady said, he’s not chasing Jordan to claim #6. It’s pretty clear that it’s much more difficult for an NFL player to record five or more titles than it is for a player in any other sport due to salary cap restraints and the relative impact of a superstar player.

Brady might not be the Jordan of the NFL- the unquestioned greatest of all time- and winning that sixth title likely wouldn’t sway any of his detractors. Brady doesn’t care. He wants to win that next ring for his teammates- and because the next championship is always his favorite.


There are 51 players that have won six or more titles in their sport, but just 12 players with six titles since 1970 (the NFL merger):

NBA

7: Robert Horry (Rockets, Lakers, Spurs)

6: Kareem Abdul Jabbal (Lakers); Michael Jordan (Bulls); Scottie Pippen (Bulls)

The 1950-60s Boston Celtics have nine players with six or more titles.

NHL

6: Guy Lapointe (Canadiens), Ken Dryden (Canadiens), Jacques Lemarie (Canadiens; won two other Stanley Cups prior to 1970), Larry Robinson (Canadiens), Brian Trottier (Islanders, Penguins), Mark Messier (Oilers, Rangers), Kevin Lowe (Oilers, Rangers), Glenn Anderson (Oilers, Rangers)

There are 15 other 6+ Stanley Cup winners that played on the 1950-60s Canadiens teams. Red Kelly won eight with Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs from 1950-67.

MLB

None.

All 6+ World Series champions were on the pre-1970 Yankees.

NFL

None.

5: Tom Brady (Patriots); Charles Haley (Cowboys, 49ers)

Bart Starr won five NFL titles with the Green Bay Packers, but three of those victories predated the Super Bowl era. Otto Graham won seven championships with the Cleveland Browns, but only three came in the NFL.