Robert Kraft, Owner of the New England Patriots, made the comment on Thursday that Tom Brady is a better quarterback than Joe Montana. This can probably just be chalked up to an owner publicly lavishing praise on his star franchise quarterback, but this kind of comparison always irks me no matter who it is coming from. Now, anybody who doesn’t think that Montana and Brady are among the best quarterbacks of their respective eras (or even worse, say they suck) is just being contrarian for the purpose of tying to sound ‘edgy’, but they just come off as sounding stupid. Unless it’s their throwing technique, attitudes, or their leadership abilities, all other comparisons are apples to oranges.
As I’ve mentioned in the “My Biases” section of this blog, I don’t like comparing players between eras, and here’s why: Players, schemes, techniques, tactics, and strategies are always evolving and advancing. It’s like trying to compare the current President with Washington, Lincoln, or Roosevelt. You can’t do it because every new President has more on their plate than the one who came before him. There are just too many variables to make a rational scientific historical comparison.
I always hated the “Best of All-Time” arguments; I prefer “Best of the Era”. The former argument is usually a nostalgic and emotional argument, whereas the latter can be much more logical.
To me, the greatest running back I ever saw was Walter Payton, the greatest receiver will always be Jerry Rice, and the greatest linebacker will always be Lawrence Taylor. Notice how all of those players played at around the same time? They’re who I grew up watching. In my head, I know that many of today’s players are actually better at playing the game, but my heart tells me that nobody will ever eclipse Payton, Rice, and Taylor as being the ‘best’.
Brady is arguably the best of his era (a compelling argument could be made for Peyton Manning, but I would still rank Brady as #1 and Manning at #2). Montana is arguably the best of his.
Can’t we just be satisfied with that as the answer?