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Oct 18, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady smiles from the bench during the NFL game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL has been counting down the Top 100 players in the NFL.  This list was compiled by taking votes from current NFL players. David Bakhtiari was notably upset at the list.

The point he had was that the list contains just four offensive tackles and a total of nine offensive linemen.  There was one other massive criticism.

Mohamed Sanu was clearly standing up for his quarterback, 2016 MVP Matt Ryan. However, Ryan got support from divisional foes as well as teammates.

Naming someone other than the reigning MVP as the best player in the league is not without precedent. In 2014, J.J. Watt was named the Top Player in Football while Aaron Rodgers was the MVP. At least Watt was the Defensive Player of the Year. Also, Rodgers finished second. Not insane.

Still, the biggest point is the NFL posted Brady’s coronation on NFL.com with an article titled: “The GOAT: Brady leads the bunch.” Meanwhile, also putting in a little box that he was ranked second last year (behind MVP Cam Newton).  So a year ago the greatest that ever was, was second.

First, a simple, by-the-numbers look at last year. The numbers remove some of the gloss we add with our fan glasses, but also only tell part of the story. Just going to do a per game comparison with other greats Matt Ryan, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees.

player yards TD Int Comp %
Matt Ryan 309.0 2.38 0.44 69.9
Drew Brees 325.5 2.31 0.94 70.0
Tom Brady 296.2 2.33 0.17 67.4
Aaron Rodgers 276.8 2.50 0.44 65.7

Just looking at raw numbers hurts the GOAT argument. Also, Ryan just clearly had a better year in 2016. This is why he outpaced the media darling to the MVP. Other than not throwing interceptions, Brady really does not beat out Ryan or Brees and is just a little better than Rodgers. Again, just one metric.

But wins, wins are what matter, yes? Okay, there are five seasons where Brady threw the ball more than 600 times (and pointing out the 12 game season of 2016 was under the pace of a 600 attempt season). In those five seasons, the Patriots have a winning percentage of 0.725 (58-22). Those five seasons also yielded just four playoff appearances and a 5-4 record. So, when Brady throws less than this, the Patriots are 125-30 (0.806). The less they rely on Brady, the better they are.

But titles, right? Football is always called the ultimate team sport. Few have benefitted from that more than Tom Brady. In his first four seasons as a starter, the Patriots won three Super Bowls. Since that hot start, the Patriots under Brady are 16-9 in the playoff and two Super Bowls over 12 seasons. Consider that Peyton Manning went 12-9 over his last 12 seasons and also won two Super Bowls in that span. Yet, the narrative is Manning was a playoff choke artist and Brady is the unflappable victor of all he surveys.

Here is another point regarding those five Super Bowls. In those first three, Brady was essentially a game manager. Check out the difference in the two eras of his career:

yards TD Int Comp Att Comp %
2001-2004 224.5 1.56 0.84 20.0 32.5 61.6
2005-2016 275.5 2.08 0.58 23.1 35.9 64.3

To tie it all in, the one season in the first four years where the Patriots did not win the Super Bowl (or make the playoffs actually) was when Brady attempted 601 passes.

The main point is, this vote was the players saying how much they supported Brady over Roger Goodell. Also, the attribution of team accolades to a single player boosts a player above his actual deserts. Brady was not the best player in the league last season nor is he the best player ever if you were capable of judging talent in a vacuum without the fog of wins.