The legacy of a quarterback is something that sticks with that person, and his team forever . . . for better or for worse. The Cleveland Browns have spent years of misery with horrible quarterback play and last-place finishes. The Indianapolis Colts seem to find great quarterbacks one after the next. The two remaining quarterbacks in the NFL playoffs this year have a lot at stake, not just for this season, but for the legacy of their entire career. Both Matt Ryan and Tom Brady have a chance to enter the highest ranks of quarterbacks ever to play the game. It’s very rare, but whomever wins Super Bowl 51 on Sunday, February 5th, will establish a major part of his legacy.
Matt Ryan was drafted first overall back in 2008. He’s been well worth the selection and his career has been very successful throughout the first 16 games of each season. Atlanta has never failed to surround Ryan with offensive weapons. It’s the defense that has never been quite good enough to help Ryan and the Falcons get over the hump. Of the four quarterbacks still in play last weekend, Ryan was the only one never to have reached a Super Bowl. Ryan orchestrates the top offense in football and is the favorite to be named league MVP. The legacy of Matt Ryan’s career could be defined in this Super Bowl game.
The Falcons, like the Panthers, Ravens and 49ers in recent Super Bowls, seem to be just having an incredible season. Teams like these ride a hot hand at the perfect time, but don’t seem to have a great chance to return to the Super Bowl in the near future. This could be their one shot to win it all, as just about everything has gone perfectly this season. That’s why so much is riding on this Super Bowl for Matt Ryan. This is the first time in Ryan’s era that Atlanta has put together a whole team on both sides of the ball to be successful in the playoffs. At age 31, Ryan has never won a Super Bowl and may never get back to one after this year.
Although this game means so much to the legacy of Matt Ryan, it means even more to Tom Brady. Brady is the best quarterback in the history of the National Football League. You can list a significant number of facts to support this claim, and it’s rare to hear a valid argument saying he’s not. If Tom loses this Super Bowl, then it strengthens the argument that he’s not the greatest quarterback to ever play the game. If he loses, his Super Bowl Record falls to 4-3 and stays in the pack of quarterbacks with four Super Bowl rings. Both Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana are 4-0 in Super Bowls. For Tom’s legacy, 5-2 looks and sounds a lot better than 4-3. A loss for the Patriots hurts Brady’s legacy. A win, though, solidifies him as the greatest quarterback of all time. It would shut down the argument completely. A win moves Brady out of the conversation about best quarterback of all time to the one about the greatest athlete ever with Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, Michael Phelps.
A lot rides on this game for both teams but especially their quarterbacks.