After Tom Brady’s seventh Super Bowl victory, more than any franchise in the NFL, the debate started instantly whether he is the greatest athlete of all-time, passing the majority favorite Michael Jordan.
Though many people believe Jordan is the greatest athlete of all time, the debate has so many factors to consider which makes it difficult to pick one single athlete.
Many of the athletes mentioned in these debates played different sports which makes it difficult to assess talent, many of these players also played during different time periods with unique obstacles and circumstances.
Comparing athletes of different eras and different sports is a challenge, but here are some of the athletes who deserve to be mentioned in the conversation for “greatest of all time”.
The case for Tom Brady is simple–he has seven Super Bowl rings and has won four of them after the age of 37.
Brady is at the forefront of a new era in sports today where athletes play significantly longer careers than they were able to 15 years ago.
The seven-time champion brings a culture change as well, and expects and demands respect from everyone around him, which makes him one of the greatest leaders of all-time.
Every athlete has unique circumstances too.
Many say the reason Brady has been able to play so long is that in recent years the NFL rule changes have favored the quarterback position, which protects players from hits against them.
It should also be noted that in football, players usually only play one side of the ball. Where in basketball, baseball, soccer, tennis everyone plays offense and defense.
Can we really call Brady the greatest athlete of all-time if he only played one side of the ball? The greatest at his position, possibly the greatest winner, of course. But, the greatest athlete?
To many, Jordan is still the undisputed G.O.A.T. in any sport.
Something Jordan has that very few can say is he won every single championship he participated in. Brady can’t say that, neither can Lebron or Kobe or any other athlete we compare to Jordan.
MJ was so dominant at his sport that he won three championships in a row, took a break and played professional baseball, then came back and won three more.
But, unlike many players today Jordan did not age like fine wine. After he came back and joined the Wizards at age 38, it was obvious he wasn’t the same player.
He still averaged 22.9 points his first season back and averaged 20.0 points the next season, but never made the playoffs with the Wizards.
Of course, it’s unfair to expect a 38-year-old man to lead his team to a championship when other teams have guys in their 20’s and sometimes even younger, but the fact that Brady has won four Super Bowls since the age of 37 only strengthens his argument.
There are many arguments for Lebron and many against him.
However, it’s too soon to rule him out of the G.O.A.T. conversation. At 36 years old, James still has a lot of basketball left to play and perhaps a few more championships to win.
No matter what he does the rest of his career, some say he will never be the greatest due to his culmination of losses in the past.
His 4-6 finals record overshadows his consistent greatness and durability.
James already leads or is close to leading every major playoff statistic–and he’s still playing. He is third on the all-time scoring list and could quite possibly end his career in first or second.
At his current age, he averages the most minutes of his career this season after winning the NBA championship and coming off a shortened off-season.
The case for Lebron is still being written, despite many unwilling to read the rest of his story.
There are a few other athletes who are worthy of being mentioned in the G.O.A.T. conversation. Bo Jackson is perhaps the greatest two-sport athlete in professional sports. Serena Williams brought fame to the game of tennis and inspired women to pursue professional athletics, and Cristiano Ronaldo is perhaps the best soccer player, and one of the best athletes in the world today.
The title of Greatest Athlete of All Time will always be a revolving door as new athletes rise to the top and older athletes play longer and longer with new science and technology. However, the athletes of the past and present must always be honored for their roles in paving the way for the future.