Philip Rivers thinks Tom Brady among the best, but not for obvious reason

Darin Gantt
ProFootball Talk on NBC Sports

Philip Rivers is willing to admit that Tom Brady‘s better than he is. And he’s also clear that Brady’s among the best of all time.

But the Chargers quarterback thinks the result of individual games aren’t the best way to measure his Patriots counterpart’s greatness.

During an interview on the Dan Patrick Show, Rivers pointed to the end of Super Bowl XLIX, when it was Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler‘s interception that sealed the win for New England over the Seahawks.

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“I remember thinking when the Patriots beat the Seahawks, when they had that interception against the Seahawks and that gave them what, their [fourth] championship?” Rivers said, via Matt Vautour of Masslive.com. “You know everyone said, ‘Well, he’s now the greatest of all time.’ And I thought to myself, I already thought he was already one of [the greatest] — I mean, how do you ever decide that?

“It’s like the old Michael Jordan [debate], right? We could talk about that forever, too — but I already thought he was already one of the greatest of all-time, but because they intercepted the pass, he’s now the greatest of all time? What if the Seahawks were to run it in? And the Seahawks were to have won? Brady would have just played the exact same game. He didn’t do anything different, you know? . . . It is funny how that works, so I don’t look at that [Super Bowl wins].”

The fact that Brady has stacked up six of them carries extra weight, but Rivers is right that the result of any one particular game can be random and overstated.

Great quarterbacks (and great coaches) are the ones who keep their teams at the top of the pile for an extended period of time. The Patriots have done that better than anyone. But Rivers has kept the Chargers competitive for years, often in circumstances that wouldn’t suggest it. Andy Reid has a .611 winning percentage over 20 years, but like Rivers, has never won a title, so some are quick to dismiss him.

Rivers said he thought Dan Marino, who also never won a Super Bowl, deserved to be in the conversation with Brady for the greatest quarterback of all time, while acknowledging that he’s not on that level.

“A Brady-led team versus a Rivers-led team, we’re [winless],” Rivers said of the Chargers’ 0-5 record against the Patriots. “That’s just tells you a little bit head-to-head.”

And even if Rivers won a Super Bowl, and beat the Patriots in the process, the big picture shouldn’t change in his view.

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