If there’s one question that has plagued humanity over the course of history, it’s whether the chicken or the egg came first. If you’re looking for the sports version of that question, all you have to do is ask yourself who meant more to the Patriots success over the past 20 years: Tom Brady or Bill Belichick.
It’s an interesting question, and although you can definitely make a strong case for each side, former Patriots cornerback Asante Samuel says there’s only one correct answer and that answer is Brady.
“I think Bill Belichick needed Tom to be successful,” Samuel recently tweeted. “Do you think Tom needs Bill? My answer is no.”
That’s a bold statement, and Samuel seems to be well aware of that, which is why he went even further with his explanation for why Brady was more important to the team’s success.
“Bill is known to be a defensive specialist,” Samuel wrote. “How many times did he have a top 5 defense and did they/we win the Super Bowl? Tom has always carried the team in his back with limited weapons. Josh McDaniel is the one who really raised Brady.”
Putting aside the fact that Samuel referred to McDaniels as McDaniel, the defensive back spent five seasons in New England and won two Super Bowls with the Patriots, so he definitely has a unique perspective on all of this. However, it seems kind of crazy to write off Belichick so quickly. In the 18 seasons that Brady was a starter, the Patriots defense ranked in the top-five in fewest points allowed a total of eight times. Of course, they only ranked in the top-five for fewest yards allowed twice, which might be what Samuel was referring to, but giving up fewer points is a lot more important than giving up fewer yards. Also, Belichick was the coach who created the game plan that shut down the high-powered Rams offense in Super Bowl XXXVI, a game where the Patriots were a 14-point underdog.
If you’re wondering how the Patriots offense has done with Brady, it’s ranked in the top-five for scoring in 11 of the 18 seasons where Brady was the starter (Brady didn’t start in 2000 and missed 15 games in 2008).
Basically, both guys have been vital to the Patriots success, and that seems to be Brady’s take on the situation. The former Patriots quarterback was actually asked who he thought meant more to New England during an April interview with Howard Stern, and he refused to get in on the debate.
“I think it’s a pretty s—ty argument actually that people would say that, because again, I can’t do his job, and he can’t do mine,” Brady said, via ESPN.com. “So the fact you could say, ‘Would I be successful without him, the same level of success?’ I don’t believe I would have been. But I feel the same vice versa, as well… To have him allowed me to be the best I can be, so I’m grateful for that. I very much believe that he feels the same way about me, because we’ve expressed that to each other.”
Former Patriots safety Rodney Harrison has also gotten in on the debate, and he’s also not a big fan of the argument that one guy meant more to the team than the other guy.
“I think it’s stupid,” Harrison said, via NBC Sports Boston. “Because no matter how good those guys were together, guess what? They weren’t very good without Tedy Bruschi, Ted Johnson, Richard Seymour, Richard Seymour, Willie McGinest. I just think it’s such an injustice to all the great players that have come in and really made major contributions to those championships. It’s not just Brady. It’s not just Belichick.”
This might not be a topic that Brady or Belichick would want to talk about publicly, but you have to think both men are going to be motivated to prove that they can win without the other one this season, and if one guy has more success than the other one, it will likely add to his legacy.