HOUSTON • The neatly-packaged narrative for today's Super Bowl would be thatTomBrady will take the field, capping the season of his Deflategate revenge tour for the New England Patriots, not only with a chance to win another Lombardi Trophy but also with an opportunity to settle the debate about which quarterback is the greatest in National Football League history.
A fifth title will certainly put Joe Montana, Dan Marino, John Elway, Brett Favre, PeytonManning and everyone else inarguably in his rear-view mirror for good.
In truth, that argument might be already settled. To many, Brady has secured the title as the best ever and that will not change today, win or lose.
''I don't think he needs to do any more,'' said Troy Aikman, the Hall of Fame former quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys. ''I'm sure he's sitting there saying he wants to win his fifth. That would be kind of the cherry on the pie. But I don't think (it's necessary) when you look at his resume of work and what he has accomplished.''
Aikman, an NFL analyst for Fox who will call today's game, said this week he has become convinced that Brady is the greatest ever, after long being steadfast in his belief that it was Montana.
''I've always said Joe Montana was the best,'' Aikman said. ''He always made it look so easy and he did it on the big stage four different times. . . . But getting ready for this game and then really kind of delving into all that (Brady has) accomplished - there's others, I know. Otto Graham is a guy who seems to always get lost in that conversation. But I think that anyone who wants to make a case for Tom Brady being the greatest of all-time, they certainly can do that regardless of whatever happens on Sunday.''
Aikman is not alone. ''I think that question has already been settled,'' former Washington Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann said. ''He doesn't need a fifth ring to prove he's the best. The quarterback position is the most dependent position on the field. What defines greatness is to be able to operate at the highest level no matter who is around you.Tom defines that.''
Brady makes his seventh Super Bowl appearance and seeks his fifth Super Bowl triumph; a fifth win would put him ahead of Montana and Terry Bradshaw for the most ever.
Great aims to be greatest
With four Super Bowl wins in a career which has spanned 16 seasons, Tom Brady has already earned the right to be regarded as one of the quarterback greats. Will one more today make him the greatest?
•Age: 39. Played: Since 2000.
•Four rings but he lost two of his six Super Bowls trips, both to the New York Giants.
•Fourth in career passing yards and passing touchdowns behind Peyton Manning, Brett Favre and Drew Brees. He is third in career passer rating behind Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson.
•Age: 60. Played: 1979-94.
•Holds four Super Bowl rings, and has never lost a Super Bowl game.
•Known for his accuracy and mobility and may have even got more rings if injuries did not cost him a significant portion of his career, noted The Denver Post.
•Age: 40. Played: 1998-2015
•Won a Super Bowl with the Indianapolis Colts in the middle of his career and with the Denver Broncos in his final season.
•Has several NFL records, including most passing touchdown record: 539; most passing yards: 71,940; most passing yards, season (2013): 5,477; and most wins (including play-offs): 200.
•Age: 56. Played: 1983-98.
• Known as "The Drive", he played in five Super Bowls and finished his final two seasons with titles with the Broncos.
•He was a true dual-threat quarterback before it became popular to be one. But his passing numbers are not as lofty as some of the other contenders .
•Age: 68. Played: 1970-84
•The Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback, like Montana, is also undefeated in his four trips.
•But Bradshaw's lowly career completion percentage (51.9 per cent) and touchdown-to-interception ratio (212 to 210) makes it hard to place him in the top contender group.
WASHINGTON POST, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
The Cincinnati Bengals' Andy Dalton said: ''He's arguably the best of all time. To go to seven Super Bowls and to have as many championships, as many winning seasons and everything that he's done, he definitely has the argument to be the best of all time. ''
Brady threw 28 touchdown passes and two interceptions this season at age 39.
''Most of us who went to multiple Super Bowls, we pretty much had our same core,'' said Aikman, himself a three-time Super Bowl winner. ''He's done it with three- and four-wide-receiver sets when they had Randy Moss. He's done it with two-tight-end packages. He did it earlier in his career with their defence and run the football.
''And now they're doing it with little wide receivers that are just running all over the place and just get the ball to them. They know what everyone can do. And Tomknowswhat everyone can do.''
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