Historian: Tom Brady hasn't had one Hall-of-Fame career; he's had two
For those who don’t read Dan Daly on Twitter, your loss. The guy is one of the NFL’s most astute historians, often reminding us what we should know – but don’t -- about the league and its stars.
This week he did it again.
After Tom Brady was named one of two quarterbacks for the 2010s’ all-decade team (Aaron Rodgers was the other), Daly decided to take a look at the quarterback’s 20-year career in New England. OK, nothing new there. But there is here: He broke down the career in half, focusing on Brady’s first 10 years as an all-decade choice for the 2000-09 team and his second half when he was named all-decade for the 2010-19 team.
And what he found was this: Brady is Dorian Gray.
It’s not that he doesn’t age. It’s that the older he is the better he gets. Essentially, he’s more Benjamin Button than Dorian Gray, and Daly had the numbers to prove it.
In Brady’s first 10 years, he was 111-36 (a winning percentage of .755), completing 63.17 percent of his passes, with 253 touchdowns, 114 interceptions and a passer rating of 92.3. But in the second half of his career, which began when Brady turned 33, he was better. More wins (138). A higher winning percentage (.771). A higher completion percentage (64.14). More TDs (361). Fewer interceptions (100). And a higher passer rating (98.6).
“He’s really had two careers,” Daly wrote on Twitter.
In the first, he won three Super Bowls and was named Super Bowl MVP twice. In the second, he won three Super Bowls and was named Super Bowl MVP twice.
Brady this week said "I never cared about legacy," but maybe he should. Because his is exceptional. He didn’t have one Hall-of-Fame career. He had two.
Fortunately, Daly dives deeper into the numbers, noting that Brady threw more regular-season passes in his first decade (4,218) than 14 Hall-of-Famers since World War II did their entire careers – including Otto Graham, Len Dawson, Roger Staubach, Ken Stabler, Terry Bradshaw, Steve Young and Kurt Warner.
Then he looks at the second half of Brady’s career, telling us that he threw more regular-season passes in his second decade as New England’s starter (5,770) than seven more post-war Hall-of-Famers their entire careers, including John Unitas, Dan Fouts, Jim Kelly and Joe Montana.
I didn’t know that, and my guess is that you didn’t, either.
So what does it tell us? Two things. First, Brady bashers who keep reminding us of his decline were/are clueless. The numbers prove it, and so does this: At the age of 42, Brady was one of eight unanimous choices for the 2010-2019 all-decade team. And the second? You should start reading Dan Daly.
I’m glad I do. For those who don’t, find him at @dandalyonsports. Then thank me later.