Every sport has it, this one legendary figure that stands above the rest due to its success and and domination of the opponent: No matter if they are named Jack Nicklaus or Michael Jordan, Eddy Merckx or Giacomo Agostini, they have all been referred to as the “greatest of all time“ at their respective sports.
The four men above have all long ended their active careers. Two other “GOATs“, however, are still active: In pro football it is New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, and in tennis it is Roger Federer. And in 2017, both men have been able to add to their already incredible résumés and their overflowing trophy shelves.
In February, Brady and the Patriots completed the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history: Down 28-3 in the third quarter, the team rallied back to beat the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 in overtime. Brady, who will turn 40 next month, set or extended nine NFL records – among them most Super Bowl wins by a starting quarterback.
Brady entered Super Bowl LI tied with two members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame: Former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw and former San Francisco 49ers passer Joe Montana have won four titles. With his fifth, Brady set himself apart from the duo and has further been able to cement his status as the greatest quarterback to ever play the game.
Like Brady, Roger Federer was already regarded the greatest of all time entering 2017. The Swiss tennis ace had won 17 Grand Slam tournaments in his distinguished career and spent more weeks ranked number one than any other player in the history of the sport. The question at the beginning of the year was not Federer’s status but whether he had anything left in the tank – a question that had also been asked about Brady in the past.
And just like Brady, Federer left no doubt about the answer. In late January, he won his first Grand Slam since 2012 by defeating long-time rival Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open final. Yesterday, the soon-to-be 36-year old added another trophy by thoroughly dismantling Marin Cilic on Wimbledon's grass court to claim his record-extending 19th Grand Slam title.
Both men, entering the supposed twilight of their respective careers have shown that they are still at the top of their game. And they will have more chances to further put distance between themselves and the field over the next few months: Federer is one of the favorites to win the U.S. Open starting in late August; Brady and the Patriots will start their quest for a sixth title a little later by opening the NFL season on September 7.
The “Year of the GOAT” is not over yet, as is the era of domination by two of the greatest athletes of all time.