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NFL.com Calls Tom Brady the No. 1 QB All Time. Bernard Pollard Calls Him 'A System QB'

So NFL.com puts out an interesting and pretty comprehensive ranking of their Top 25 quarterbacks of all time. More on that in a minute because there are some pretty mind-altering stats in there. To the surprise of no one, they picked Tom Brady No. 1. Which is to say, it would surprise no one if the universe were a sane place where the rules of logic and common sense apply. But that is no our cosmos. We live in the world where guys like Bernard Pollard don’t think winning rings has anything to do with measuring excellence:

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This fucking guy …

Pollard

That Bernard Pollard. OUR Bernard Pollard. The Typhoid Mary of devastating Patriots injuries:

–In the 1st quarter of the first game of 2008, Pollard blows out Brady’s ACL. The Patriots go on to be just the second team in history to go 11-5 and miss the playoffs.

–In the last game of 2009, playing out the string on a Texans team that would finish 9-7 and miss the playoffs, Pollard beats the Patriots with a fumble return for a touchdown and an interception of Brady. More importantly, he’s on the field when Wes Welker blows out his ACL. It was a non-contact injury, but the replays clearly show Pollard across the formation, using his ACL Tear Telepathy powers to rip Welker’s knee apart like a hot cinnamon bun. The Patriots go on to their worst postseason blowout of the Bradichick Epoch, losing 33-14 at home to Baltimore.

–The 2011 AFC championship game. Now with Baltimore, Pollard wraps up Rob Gronkowski by the ankles and rips him to the ground, doing all sorts of lower leg damage. Gronk goes from having the greatest season by a tight end in history, with 90 catches for 1,327 yards and 17 TDs, to a hobbled, limited shadow of himself in The Super Bowl That Shall Not Be Named. In a game that had a margin of loss of about six inches, Gronk finishes with two catches on three targets for 26 yards as the Giants defenders keep yelling “87 is a decoy!”

–The 2012 AFC championship game, again between Baltimore and New England. After two straight Ravens touchdown drives put them up 21-13 in the 4th, the Patriots were at midfield looking to make it close. Stevan Ridley came through the hole, Pollard met him there, squared him up and with a textbook hit, knocked Ridley into the Quantum Realm. The ball came loose. Baltimore recovered. And finished that drive off with yet another touchdown to win easily.

THAT Bernard Pollard. Not one to be satisfied just ruining four Patriots championship runs, he’s got to sit here in 2019 and rub his nuts all over the drum kit in our Beat Laboratory. It’s just a further reminder of what I said a decade ago: That Mr. Kraft should just buy this guy out. Give him a huge contract – give him a consulting job or something so it doesn’t affect the cap – and let him just go live on an island someplace and stop destroying our souls. The Patriots might have two or three more rings if they had.

As far as his hot take that Brady is a “system” quarterback, I said it all last week when Phil Simms’ Kid said the same thing. I listed five different, separate system over Brady’s career, run under three different coordinators. From the early run-first system to the two tight end “Joker” system to last year’s champs, running behind 22-personnel groupings. All the way to the championship. “Peyton Manning is the system?” Wrong, Bernard Pollard, bane of my existence. Brady is the system.

And this is from that aforementioned NFL.com article to make the case for me:

Stat you need to know: Brady’s career has been a study in steady greatness, but it’s also bookended by both individual and team accomplishments. There simply hasn’t been much decline, and if anything, Brady might have improved in his later years. His first and most recent MVP seasons came a decade apart. Brady’s first and most recent passing yards titles were 12 years apart. His first and most recent passing touchdowns titles were 13 years apart. More than any other numbers, a single line exemplifies what Brady’s legacy will be: In 17 healthy seasons as a starter, he’s made more Super Bowls (9) than he’s missed (8).

Despite what Thornton’s Bane says, rings DO count. Currently all the way up to six. And counting.

P.S. I don’t want this to just be about Brady because there are other amazing factoids in this article. And it doesn’t matter what your team is to be able to appreciate them:

Joe Montana, No. 2: “Montana … posted a 100-plus passer rating in eight straight playoff games, winning all but one start. That was the 1990 NFC Championship Game, when Montana got knocked out in the second half by the Giants’ Leonard Marshall. San Francisco was winning at the time of his injury. Montana’s TD-to-INT ratio in those eight games: 22:2. Gooooodnight.”

Johnny Unitas, No. 4: “Unitas is the only player to lead the league in passing touchdowns four straight years. .. [W]hen Unitas produced his record streak, he was throwing the ball fewer than 29 times per game. … That Unitas streak from the late ’50s is every bit as golden as Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak.”

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Otto Graham, No. 5: “Guys like Graham threw down the field, as opposed to tossing nine-yard outs. … no stat in this article is more impressive than Graham’s career yards-per-attempt mark of 9.0. The dude almost got a first down every time he released the ball! When I sat down with Jack Andrade to go over the numbers, Jack had the brilliant idea of finding out how many times Graham would have had to spike the ball into the dirt for the next closest player to catch him on the all-time list. The answer: 174 times! For the next active passer? More than 200!”

Dan Marino, No. 6: “His 48 touchdown passes broke the single-season record of 36 and stood for 20 years. He became the first QB to break the 5,000-passing-yards barrier. He was sacked just 13 times (fewest in the NFL among QBs to attempt 200-plus passes) despite leading the league with 564 pass attempts. Adjusted for era, like Elliot did here, Marino’s 1984 season equated to a QB throwing for 5,668 yards and 58 touchdowns in 2018.”

Sammy Baugh, No. 11: “Baugh recorded so many out-of-this-world numbers that it’s impossible to pick one. For example, in 1943, Baugh boasted the NFL’s highest passer rating, intercepted the most passes and led the NFL in punting average. As if that weren’t enough, Slingin’ Sammy’s ’45 campaign defies all odds. Despite the fact that you could whack quarterbacks upside the head, chuck their receivers all the way down the field and offensive linemen couldn’t extend their arms to pass protect, Baugh produced a 109.9 passer rating. The rest of the league’s average passer rating: 43.0. Please crosscheck those figures yourself to make sure I’m not crazy.”

Bart Starr, No. 13: “To this day, Starr still owns the highest postseason passer rating at 104.8 (minimum 150 pass attempts). That’s no anomaly. Starr was the first quarterback in league history to have two seasons featuring a triple-digit passer rating, which he did all the way back in 1966 and ’68. To think, the entire league only produced six 100-plus passer ratings during the 1960s, and Starr owned two of them.”

Sid Luckman, No. 16: “Luckman led the NFL in yards per pass attempt seven different times in his career, which is a record. But it was his 1943 season that was unbelievably special. He averaged 10.9 yards per throw (still the all-time record), and a record 19.9 yards per completion. Wow. His passing touchdown percentage that year was also the highest in history, a whopping 13.9 percent. Just for good measure, he tossed five more touchdowns in the Bears’ championship win that December.”

Just an amazing compendium of facts and data and incredible research by Elliot Harrison. You don’t have to think Brady is the GOAT in order to appreciate it. Wrong though you may be. And if you do think it, reading how great some of these earlier giants of the position were just makes you appreciate him that much more.