Back in 2011, the NFL Network kicked off their inaugural Top 100 players ranking, created from votes by the players themselves. New England Patriots QB Tom Brady was #1 after being the league’s first and only unanimous MVP in 2010. Brady moved from #1 for 2011 to #4 for 2012, #4 for 2013, #3 for 2014, #3 for 2015, and #2 for 2016.
Brady is the only player to rank inside the top 5 for every single list; he’s also the only player to rank inside the top 10 for every single list. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers joins Brady as the only two players to rank in the top 20 of every list (Rodgers has two 11th place finishes).
Brady is coming off one of the three best years of his career- along with 2007 and 2010- and he’s improved as a player in each year since 2013. He’s gotten more mobile, he’s improved his deep ball, and he’s showing greater command of the offense than ever thought possible.
“The way he came back off the suspension this year, he had something to prove,” Bills OG Richie Incognito said. “We all knew it was going to be rough when he got back, so we stole a win from the Patriots early in the year at their place, and when Tom came back, it was the same old Tom, carved us up for I think like 45 points.”
(note: it was only 41 points)
Brady led the Patriots to the biggest comeback in the first overtime game in Super Bowl history. The Patriots trailed 28-3 and scored 31 unanswered points to win the fifth Super Bowl in franchise history.
“Seeing the character that he has and the ability to not give up, he’s a champion because of it,” Falcons EDGE Vic Beasley said in what had to have been a painful interview.
Beyond his personal mentality, part of Brady’s championship ability is how he makes the players around him better and elevates their play.
“If you don’t create pressure and if you don’t hit Brady, everybody knows what that man’s gonna do,” Broncos EDGE Shane Ray said. “You’ve got [Chris] Hogan looking like he’s offensive player of the year, nobody even knew who Hogan was coming out, so that just shows you the kind of player he is to be able to make his teammates great.”
Brady’s level of play is so incredible he’s converting the final naysayers into believers.
“I think he’ll do it for at least five more years,” Buccaneers WR Mike Evans said. “He’s the best ever. I hate to say it [because] I’m a Peyton Manning fan, but I’m a realist and Tom Brady is the guy.”
And Eagles FS Malcolm Jenkins put Brady’s resume in perfect context when analyzing his claim to be the G.O.A.T.
“I mean, you’ve always got two sides of the argument usually when people are talking about ‘greatest,’” Jenkins said. “It’s like, well, how good are you, what are your stats, what do you look like on the field, and then there’s the people who always want to validate it by wins and championships. Well, he’s got both. And I don’t think how you can argue, or who you can compare him to to say he’s not the best of all time.”
Brady is back on top of the league and there’s no sign of him slowing down. Hopefully he’ll be back at #1 in 2018 with a sixth Lombardi Trophy.