Who is the greatest team athlete of all time? That’s the subject of discussion following Super Bowl LIII. That game saw New England Patriots‘ quarterback Tom Brady collect his sixth championship ring, giving him more than any other player in NFL history. It was also a mark that ties him with the NBA’s Michael Jordan, who won all his during the 1990s with the Chicago Bulls. Both are now considered by many to be the greatest to ever play their respective sports. But if one had to be picked as the ultimate GOAT (greatest of all time), who would it be?
While both athletes found their most success as professionals, each played for storied college programs. Michael Jordan attended the University of North Carolina and was coached by one of the best to ever do it, Dean Smith. While a member of the Tar Heels, Jordan won ACC Freshman of the Year, ACC Player of the Year and National College Player of the Year. Oh, and he also hit the game-winning shot en route to an NCAA Championship. Tom Brady’s college career was less successful. He spent two years as a backup, though he did win a National Championship in his second year. Once he became a starter, he threw 30 touchdowns against 16 interceptions and won the Citrus and Orange Bowls. In this category, the edge goes to Jordan even with Brady’s winning track record.
Taken with pick 199 in the 2000 NFL Draft, Tom Brady wasn’t expected to be an all-time great. He didn’t even start until Drew Bledsoe got injured and he was thrust into the job during his second season. The Patriots took off from there, with Brady becoming the youngest quarterback to ever win the Super Bowl. Brady’s next season was hampered by injuries, but the following two saw him win two more championships. This was unprecedented for someone his age. The solo accolades started pouring in as his career went on. Brady was named to 14 Pro Bowls, won three Most Valuable Player awards, four Super Bowl MVPs and set NFL records in various categories. Though he and the Patriots did lose three Super Bowls, Brady’s six wins, four MVPs and nine appearances are all the most any player has ever amassed. He also happens to have won the most games ever by a quarterback.
Unlike Brady, Michael Jordan was given the reins to a franchise from the start. The Chicago Bulls selected him with the third pick in the 1984 NBA Draft. He rewarded them by being named Rookie of the Year and helping the team improve greatly. However, where Brady won instantly, it took Jordan time. He struggled to get over the hump against tough teams in his conference like the Boston Celtics and Detroit Pistons. However, he couldn’t be stopped once he did. Jordan made the NBA Finals six times in his career and won all six times. Not only that, but he was named Finals MVP each time, including in 1993 when he set a record by averaging 41 points for the series. Jordan is a 14-time All-Star, 10-time Scoring Champion, winner of three All-Star Game MVPs, five regular season MVP awards and was named to 10 All-NBA First Teams. The Hall of Famer also won two Olympic gold medals.
Considering the success of both incredible stars, there’s a serious case for either Brady or Jordan. Brady holds the upper hand in terms of longevity since Jordan temporarily retired twice. The fact that Brady is still playing at a high level after 19 seasons in a sport like football is incredible. Then, there’s Jordan’s skillset on both sides of the ball. Brady only plays offense and while Jordan was known for his prolific scoring, he was also a tenacious defender. In fact, he made 9 All-Defensive First Teams and Defensive Player of the Year once. So, with all this information, just who is the true GOAT? Personally, I’d give the slight edge to Jordan but can see the argument for Brady. Either way, we should be lucky we got to see both in their primes.