Cleat Geeks

Do Super Bowl Rings Lead to a Warped Sense of Reality?

Super Bowl XLVIIII has come and gone with Tom Brady adding a fourth Super Bowl ring to his already mythical resume. In the weeks leading to the game I remember numerous media outlets putting a lot of emphasis on Brady needing a victory in order to truly cement his legacy among the greatest QB’s of all time. It led me to start thinking if the glory of winning the big game actually clouds our sense of reality when it comes to objectively judging an individuals career. Honestly, why do we embrace an individual player so much more simply because they own one more victory than the next guy?

Terry Bradshaw won 4 Super Bowls and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1989

Terry Bradshaw won 4 Super Bowls and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1989

Hall of Fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw helped lead the Steelers to 4  Lombardi Trophies in a span of 6 years, and has since become one of America’s favorite analysts on the FOX NFL Sunday show. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1989, while boasting such vaunted career statistics as a 54.9% completion percentage, a 1.01 TD:INT ratio, and an overall QB rating of 70.9. Minnesota Vikings fans, where I live, had to endure several years of torture watching Christian Ponder set new bechmarks for the definition of mediocre. But was Ponder really playing as poorly as perceived? He did manage to post a completion percentage of 59.8%, a TD:INT ratio of 1.06, and an overall QB rating of 75.9. Perhaps if he was allowed to continue to be the starting QB for the next 12 years we would have been lucky enough to witness a HOF career based on his gaudy statistics, at least when compared to those of Bradshaw.

Alright, I understand that the Ponder comparison isn’t fair because Bradshaw has longevity on his side. So let’s consider Brad Johnson, who won the Super Bowl in the 2002 season, and made the Pro Bowl team twice (compared to Bradshaw’s 3 Pro Bowl appearances).

Brad Johnson led the Bucaneers to the Lombardi Trophy in the 2002/2003 season

Brad Johnson led the Bucaneers to the Lombardi Trophy in the 2002/2003 season

Johnson has a career completion percentage of 61.7, a 1.36 TD:INT ratio, and an overall QB rating of 82.5. Johnson compiled these statistics over a 17 year career, while Bradshaw competed for 14 seasons, and yet I have never heard a discussion considering Brad Johnson’s legitimate chances of being enshrined into the HOF.  His career statistics are comparable, if not favorable, to Bradshaw in every category except for the number of Super Bowls that he won.

I know that these statistics are not the only criteria that an induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame is based upon, but it does point out that our society loves a winner. Children around the country, if not the world, dream of making the game winning shot in the big game or making the play that wins the big game. It is nurtured into us from infancy that winning is rewarded. This means that a QB winning the Super Bowl is validated in the eyes of the public because it shows that they are good under pressure and when the game is on the line. Or does it? Bob Griese won Super Bowls VII and VIII while throwing for a cumulative 161 yards and 1 TD, and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1990. Regardless of these statistics, we are conditioned to embrace winners and that will be difficult to change. When is the last time that we saw the Super Bowl losing QB get his face on the Wheaties box? Even if he had a considerably better game than the winning QB and was simply a victim of his team being over-matched?

Will a day ever come when you could mention that Peyton Manning has a career QB rating of 97.5, holds just about every single positional record conceivable (including almost twice as many TD passes as the great Joe Montana) and should be considered the greatest QB of all time without your coworker scoffing at you and bringing up the fact that Manning only owns 1 Super Bowl ring to Montana’s 4? Now don’t get me wrong, I am not anointing Manning as the greatest QB that has ever played. I am simply attempting to convey that in most cases the importance that the public places on winning that big game does not trump the overall accomplishments that are accumulated over an entire career. I mean seriously, we wouldn’t argue that Russell Wilson (1 Championship), Joe Flacco (1 Championship), or even Eli Manning (2 Championships) is more deserving of being enshrined into Canton than Steve Young would we? Well, at least not yet.

One Comment

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    February 27, 2015 at 3:12 am

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