Brees. Brady. Rodgers.
What's the difference between the three future Hall of Famers?
For more than a decade, the question and debate raged about these three quarterbacks.
Who's the best?
Who has the best stats, arm, passing ability, and leadership?
Who "wills" his team to wins?
Who does more with his team, with less talent?
Who goes to the Super Bowl?
Who's the greatest of all-time?
Perhaps, in one postseason, one player may have put all debate to rest, even at the ripe old age of 43.
Skip Bayless will probably say today on Undisputed to co-host Shannon Sharpe that Tom Patrick Edward Brady, Jr. closed the debate on Sunday.
Brady led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to become the NFC's representative to face Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV. Tampa becomes the first team ever to play in a Super Bowl contest and be the host city.
But the New Orleans Saints will not be that representative for the NFC South. The Saints have been the division's champion for four straight seasons. Since 2009, Drew Brees and New Orleans won 6 NFC South titles but fielded only one Super Bowl team. Carolina, Atlanta, and now Tampa Bay are the only NFC South representatives in the Super Bowl over the last six seasons after winning the division. Yet not the Saints.
It begs the question. Can one player make a difference?
Bruce Arians' decision to scrap quarterback Jameis Winston this offseason for Brady proved to be a wise decision for his team. Remember, Winston passed for over 5,000 yards in 2019. But the measure of winning is not about the statistics.
Statistically, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers are outstanding in most passing categories per season over Brady. However, in the postseason, Brady excels, and in comparison, Brees and Rodgers fail.
Brady has 33 postseason wins. 30 in New England and 3 with Tampa Bay. Rodgers has 11, and Brees has 9. Ben Roethlisberger (13), Russell Wilson (9), and Joe Flacco (10) are the closest current players will playoff success. Finally, Patrick Mahomes is 6-1 in the postseason.
The New Orleans Saints with Sean Payton and Drew Brees have arguably produced the greatest offense ever to be showcased in the NFL's history. Still, the pair have only one Super Bowl appearance and a 9-8 playoff record on their resume.
Brees is 1-3, and Rodgers is 1-4 in Conference Championship games. Brady is 10-4.
Most Gulf Coast residents know that every Seafood Gumbo recipe is different. There's always at most limited one ingredient in the gumbo's preparation that sets a good gumbo from being an excellent gumbo.
So why have the New Orleans Saints fallen short of expectations? And, why in one season, Brady could propel a Bucs team from mediocrity to a potential Super Bowl championship?
Is Brady a far better leader than Brees, Rodgers, or Roethlisberger? Or, can it be the fact he loves the pressure of the challenging postseason moments?
10 Super Bowl appearances is not an accident. Bill Russell's (11) and Michael Jordan's (6), and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's (6) NBA titles were not. Tiger Woods' (15) and Jack Nickalus' (18) Major Golf championships were not. Also, Serena Williams' (23), Margaret Court's (24), Roger Federer's (20), and Rafael Nadal's (20) major tennis championships are not accidents.
Champions have a different ingredient inside of them than the others who may play the same game. At this moment, the proof is in winning in the big games. The "NOLA NO CALL" and the "Minneapolis Miracle" were recent painful reminders of the Saints' postseason defeats. But there are six playoff losses, four 7-9 seasons, and a myriad of other failures in 15 seasons to make the point.
Yes, fans will point to the lack of help on defense, or the poor officiating, or the questionable play calls at times. The bottom line, others outside of the Saints' fanbase say these are excuses and not valid reasons for the lack of consistency of winning at the highest level in New Orleans. The playoffs and Super Bowl.
Drew Brees is the greatest New Orleans Saints player in the team's history. Aaron Rodgers may be a freak of nature to play the quarterback position. Both men are winners. If we look back over the past 15 seasons, only Brady executed at a much higher level during crunch time than Brees and Rodgers.
On Super Bowl Sunday, Brady will battle the very man who has the potential of overtaking him as the greatest of all-time, Patrick Mahomes. Still, until that magical, mystical, and majestic day happens, Tom Brady will sit at the pinnacle of winning in the NFL.
That's the difference.