He'll always be viewed as one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history, and that won't change. But his ranking among the pantheon of legendary quarterbacks will depend on the outcome of Sunday's game against the Giants.
With a victory, Brady will join Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw as the only quarterbacks in history with four Super Bowl rings. And really, Brady could set himself up to make a push to surpass Montana as the greatest of all time.
With a loss, Brady would still be one of four quarterbacks with three Super Bowl victories, but Montana, Bradshaw and Troy Aikman never suffered a single defeat on the sport's greatest stage. A second Super Bowl loss, especially to the same quarterback, would just about crush Brady's quest to be known as the best to ever do it.
But with Brady's résumé, his accomplishments on multiple levels and his historic rise, the expectations are for perfection.
Brady is also unique in the aspect that he's got the passing stats to complement his postseason success, and for one reason or another, the two haven't always gone hand in hand. For instance, Brett Favre, Dan Marino and Peyton Manning are considered the greatest passers in history — and they're ranked Nos. 1-3, respectively, on the all-time yardage list — but they've got just two Super Bowls between them.
Brady, one of eight players to win at least two NFL MVP awards, is ranked 14th in career passing yards (39,979). He's 573 yards away from passing Montana for 12th all time, and he is a 4,000-yard season shy of moving into ninth on the list. With four more healthy seasons, Brady will have no problem leaping into the top four in that category.
The Patriots quarterback also has 300 touchdown passes, which is tied with John Elway for fifth all time behind Favre (508), Marino (420), Manning (399) and Fran Tarkenton (342). Brady could make a run at Marino's mark if he plays at least four more seasons, and he could challenge Manning, pending the health of Manning's neck and career longevity.
Brady, whose 16 playoff wins are tied with Montana for the most of all time, has a legitimate chance to retire as the winningest quarterback in history, too. His 124 regular-season victories are tied for fifth with Tarkenton behind Favre (186), Elway (148), Marino (147) and Manning (141). Brady's regular-season winning percentage (.780) is also the best among all quarterbacks with at least 50 starts in the Super Bowl era, and he was the fastest to reach 100 victories (131 starts) in the modern era.
With all of that, Brady has established one of the greatest résumés in history, but the ceiling can get even higher with a victory in Super Bowl XLVI. Such an outcome would put him on similar footing with his boyhood idol, and Brady still has plenty of time remaining in his prime to continue establishing a great legacy.
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