by Ryan Carius ’21
The first NFL season during the COVID-19 pandemic will come to a close on Feb. 7 in Tampa Bay. The main story headed into the matchup is the two quarterbacks under center as Super Bowl LV will feature arguably the two most renowned quarterbacks competing in the league. This competition between Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes has more than the Vince Lombardi Trophy on the line.
Although neither quarterback will admit it, this game is for bragging rights. Brady’s route to the Super Bowl was not easy. After dispatching Taylor Heinicke of the Washington Football Team in the Wild Card matchup, Brady defeated two legends in both Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers to get to the big game. If Brady can complete this run by defeating Patrick Mahomes in the Super Bowl, it will add yet another impressive accomplishment to his unmatched resume. Although, he certainly has enough on his resume regardless of the outcome of Super Bowl LV.
For Mahomes, facing Brady in the Super Bowl should be enough motivation for the star QB to play his best. However, this game also serves as revenge for the 2019 AFC Championship Game, in which the New England Patriots defeated the Kansas City Chiefs in overtime, 37-31.
Mahomes’s rise to stardom has taken a much different path than Brady’s, but ever since starting for the Chiefs in his second season, Mahomes has been one of the best players in the entire NFL. In just his third year as the starting quarterback for the Chiefs, Mahomes is now in his second Super Bowl and is favored to collect his second Lombardi Trophy. Although two Super Bowls would not be enough for Mahomes to compete with Brady’s legacy just yet, the potential is there. Indeed, if Mahomes continues at this pace, it may very well be enough to ask the question: will Mahomes someday replace Brady as the Greatest of All Time?
One day, when Mahomes’s career is over, there will be much comparison between the two quarterbacks’ career statistics. If one measures greatness by career titles, it is hard to imagine supplanting Brady’s six, and potentially soon seven, Super Bowl titles. However, given that Mahomes could win his second title in just three seasons as starting quarterback, he is on pace to pass Brady if he has a successful 20-season career.
It is also worth examining statistics like passer rating, passing yards, or touchdowns in one’s pursuit of naming the GOAT. Although Brady has thrown for the most TDs in NFL history, he is not the number one quarterback in passer rating or passing yards. What makes Tom Brady stand out is his tremendous success during the postseason. Tom Brady is 30-11 in the postseason with a win percentage of 73.1%. He’s also thrown for 73 touchdowns. In comparison, Patrick Mahomes has played in only seven playoff games with a record of six wins and one loss, about a winning percentage of 85%. During that span, he threw 17 TD passes, a number which will surely increase during this Super Bowl and his many playoff games yet to come.
With these impressive numbers in just three postseasons, Mahomes will be compared to Tom Brady throughout the remainder of his career. For this reason, the argument of whether or not Patrick Mahomes will replace Tom Brady as the GOAT is yet to be determined. There are also other factors to consider, such as who had the better coach, better team, and tougher opponents throughout their respective careers. However, if Brady can win this game and prove that his success did not just come from a partnership with Patriots coach Bill Belichick, he will permanently cement himself as a true winner, regardless of what organization he plays for.
On the other hand, what makes Patrick Mahomes so appealing to most football fans is the possibility of him being a generational player that can also compete for the title of the Greatest of All Time at the quarterback position. While it might be nice to believe Mahomes can capture this accolade, it will take a very long and successful career to catch up to Brady, a pursuit which will make the NFL entertaining to watch for years to come.