In the midst of the NFL offseason, cover32 will debut a series of new segments to hype up NFL fans for the start of the 2017 season.
The NFL Doppelgänger series is where each cover32 writer breaks down an NFL player’s closest comparison outside the world of football. Yesterday we discussed who is the Billy Hamilton of the NFL.
As much as Lebron James wants to be Michael Jordan, there is really only one athlete that resembles him and he doesn’t play basketball. Tom Brady is the Michael Jordan of the NFL and if he keeps his current pace, Michael Jordan may soon become the Tom Brady of the NBA.
Both players are defined by their clutchness and late game heroics. Jordan won six NBA Championships (three-peat twice) and was named the Finals MVP in all six appearances. Brady, appearing in seven super bowls, has five championships and counting. He was named MVP in four of those wins. Brady has no contemporary at his position. The only other player with five Super Bowl wins is defensive lineman Charles Haley.
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In 15 seasons, with a couple breaks mixed in, Jordan was a 14-time All-Star, and an All-NBA selection 11 times. He was a five-time regular season MVP, leading his team to the finals 40 percent of the time. During the height of his success, Jordan was led by one of the best coaches of all-time, Phil Jackson.
Brady has been the starter for 15 of his 17 years in the league. Drew Bledsoe led the Patriots to a 5-11 record in 2000. In 2008, as a result of a torn ACL in the opener, Brady played less than a half of football. Brady is a 12-time Pro Bowler, two-time All-Pro, and a two-time NFL MVP. He has led the Patriots to the Super Bowl 47 percent of the time. During his entire tenure, he has been coached by perhaps the greatest of all time, Bill Belichick.
In most circles, Jordan is considered the greatest of all-time. Not only does his success lead to this title, but his “swagger” and attitude affirm it. Jordan was ruthless in his pursuit of greatness. If a three-point shooting team would beat the Bulls, Jordan would return the next time, or at half time, and beat them at their own game just because he could. When the challenge seemed insurmountable, Jordan was at his greatest.
The very same is true for Brady. Everyone knows the story. Brady was a sixth-round pick (199th overall) in the 2000 NFL Draft and still wears that snub on his sleeve today. It has become a cliche in recent years to say “don’t make Tom Brady angry” but there is a lot of truth to it. Ask former Steelers’ safety Anthony Smith. In 2007, he guaranteed a victory over the Patriots, only to get torched for two long touchdowns en route to a beatdown at the hand of the Patriots.
All the measurables leading up to the combine and the draft projected Brady as a late-round pick. However, there was no measuring his desire and drive to succeed. He approaches every practice and every offseason as if he is one bad play away from losing his spot. And like Jordan, Brady is at his best when the challenge is the greatest.
Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com
This incredible drive has him thinking about playing into his mid-40’s and perhaps beyond. In an interview last month with ESPN’s Ian O’Connor, Brady spoke about his admiration of Jordan, in addition to what motivates him to win.
“I was in awe of Michael Jordan,” Brady said. “I still am in awe of what he was and what he meant. He was such an effortless player. He put a lot of effort in, but there are an art and a beauty to the way he played the game. That was a very inspiring thing.”
“The great part is the next one for me is No. 6, and I’m not on No. 1. I’m trying to reach No. 6 and I’m on No. 5. If I got to No. 6, that would have great meaning to me. It’s not trying to keep up with my idols. It’s not Magic, Jeter, Mariano, Kobe, Duncan, guys more my age who I always admired. I just want to win because I owe it to my teammates. I’m working this year like I have none, and hopefully, it results in a magical season.”
With Jordan’s story already written, all he can do is watch as Brady inches closer-and-closer to his title as greatest team-sport athlete of all time. Brady will probably never match Jordan’s impact in entertainment and society. However, if he were to play four or five more seasons, how many more championships could he win? Not one, not two…
At the time of his retirement, Jordan owned many regular season records and just about every postseason record. Brady already ready owns just about every postseason record, and most by a wide margin. If Brady plays just three more seasons, he has a chance to own every major passing record by the time he retires.
The second run of back-to-back championships in 2017 would match Jordan with six championships. A third in a row brings a changing of the guard when to comes to the most iconic athlete of all time. For now, Jordan’s NFL Doppelgänger is Tom Brady.
- Tom Brady – Michael Jordan
- David Johnson -Mike Trout
- LeBron James – Bill Belichick
- Big Ben – Kris Bryant
- J.J. Watt – Brock Lesnar