Everyone has an opinion on whether Joe Montana or Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback in NFL history — except Joe Cool himself.
In an upcoming show for The Hallmark Channel, Montana was asked to weigh in on the post-Super Bowl LI debate, and he deftly dodged the question (as transcribed by Pro Football Talk):
“I think that it’s really hard to put anyone in that bucket,” Montana said. “Even before he got five — you look back to some of the guys some people don’t even know, Sammy Baugh or Otto Graham, I can’t remember which one but one of them won like seven or nine championships and so far ahead of their time. It’s so hard to compare guys from then to now, how they would compare here and how we would compare back then.” [...]
Asked if he could call himself the best ever, Montana demurred.
“I still can’t say that of myself because of just what I said,” Montana said.
Colin: Professional sports keep evolving, which makes this an impossible call
COLIN: "I've always tried to figure out what I'm supposed to do with Babe Ruth. He didn't face a slider, there were no closers, same pitcher for [the whole game]. I mean, he didn't face African-American players, Latin players; what do I do with Babe Ruth?
"And baseball people will tell you, empirically, that's the best player. Really? A baseball player today — I mean, think about this. Think about the Cincinnati Reds in the mid-70s. Don Gullett, do you remember Don Gullett? He was a terrific fire-baller, he threw 95 [mph]. Everybody else on that staff was in the 80s. You can't find a major league staff now with a guy throwing in the 80s. ... That's 1975, forget Babe Ruth.
"So when I look at football, go watch old video. Players are bigger and stronger and faster. They don't huddle. A linebacker could be huge in the 80s. Linebackers now, everything's a bubble-screen. If you can't run, you're out. Even safeties now."
Colin: Brady is the greatest achiever in football history
When Skip pressed Colin for his take on Brady v. Montana, he had two different perspectives.
COLIN: "The greatest achiever in football history. He's the most achieved. The most accomplished. Yes, it's Tom Brady.
"If you're asking me to compare them side-by-side, I think Montana was a better athlete. I think they both have great coaches."
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Colin: Why is it just Brady vs. Montana?
COLIN: "I think Troy Aikman, in the Pantheon of great quarterbacks, I've always thought Troy Aikman deserved more love. Bigger, stronger."
Shannon pretty quickly disagreed, however:
SHANNON: "You lose me on that one. I love Troy, and he works here, but it's going to be hard for him to get in the top 10 of quarterbacks."
Shannon: Montana's right, but you have to pick
After Colin asked Shannon if he agrees with Montana's non-answer, the NFL Hall of Famer got to the meat of the argument.
SHANNON: "I do, it is hard. It's hard. But Skip and I find a way to make it easy. Just do it. Just pick one and make your argument why he is. ...
"I wouldn't say Tom Brady is in my top five of greatest athletes, or top ten."
SKIP: "He's not in your top 100, your top 1,000."
SHANNON: "But when we just look at football players, but see, we're so accustomed to seeing athletes being strong fast, can jump, muscles, but Tom Brady has X's. He doesn't check any of the boxes. ...
"But that's just the way it is, Skip."
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Skip: Montana has been eclipsed, plain and simple
SKIP: "So hre's my take on Joe Montana. Remember, he retired in 1994. So for 23 years, Joe has gotten to walk this planet as the greatest quarterback ever. Everbody proclaimed him that. He could do his autograph shows or speaking engagements as the greatest quarterback ever.
"You went ahead and plunged on Tom Brady before the game, right? And I said I needed to see Tom Brady close one more deal with an MVP, which he did. So now I start to look, and I say, 'Wait a second.'
"Joe Montana did have Jerry Rice for a couple Super Bowls, and Tom Brady had no Randy Moss for one that he won. And as I told you before, in his five victories, his total receiver group has one Pro Bowl among all of them.
"Joe played in the most creative, inventive offense in the history of the National Football League, the West Coast, right? Tom Brady was kind of his own offensive coordinator. He kind of had to make it up on the fly.
"So again, did Tom Brady not have four great, late comebacks to win Super Bowls? Joe had one. He threw that 10-yard pass to John Taylor to win Super Bowl XXIII. But in the end, I'm sorry, he has been eclipsed by Tom Brady."
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