At 76 years old, Joe Namath has seen a lot of quarterback play. The New York Jets legend idolized Johnny Unitas and has tremendous respect for some of the greats of the game.
But his pick for best ever is a man who’s still playing.
‘Tom is the best’
Chatting with Howard Stern on Monday, Namath declared New England Patriots’ Tom Brady, fresh off his sixth Super Bowl win and a little more than a month away from his 42nd birthday, the greatest quarterback ever.
Sorry, Jets fans.
“Tom is the best,” Namath said, in response to Stern’s observation that Brady has been able to stay healthy for so long. “I’ve been asked that question for many years. Johnny U. [Unitas] was my hero, Otto Graham was great, Slingin’ Sammy Baugh, I go back, these guys are great.
“But meantime, Tom has been challenged more in recent history certainly with huge games than anyone I can recollect and he’s stepped up every time.”
While Brady has certainly racked up stats over his career, which now enters its 20th season, Namath didn’t point to those as the primary reason for his ranking.
“Here’s a quarterback, when I watch pro football games, college games, you can literally see — and I actually lost games for our team by throwing poorly, throwing interceptions, I have not seen Tom Brady lose a game for his team.”
‘He’s the best at answering the challenge’
Is he the greatest there ever was, Stern asked.
“I would have to say he’s the best at answering the challenge there ever was, yes,” Namath said. “I have not seen anybody have that many big games and answer the challenge as well as he has.”
While admitting that he’s not the most knowledgeable when it comes to football, Stern said whenever he watches Brady he’s just able to pull games out.
What is it that separates good players from NFL players or great players, Stern asked.
“Desire, to start with, and luck — injuries come into play,” Namath said.
He then invoked the name of the first family of NFL quarterbacking.
“The best quarterback that I know of that’s not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and he would be the first Manning into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, is their daddy, Archie,” Namath said. “But he played for the New Orleans ‘Aints,’ not Saints.
“They used to wear bags over their heads. And Archie was running for his life all the time.”
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