Patriots owner says the debate is over and Tom Brady is the greatest NFL player of all-time

If the Patriots can beat the Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game (stream it on CBS All Access) on Sunday, that means that Tom Brady will be headed to the Super Bowl for the ninth time in his 19-year career. To put that in perspective, that means that Brady will have been to the Super Bowl more times than the Jaguars (7) or Panthers (8) have even been to the playoffs.

Robert Kraft has had a front row seat to all this success and after watching Brady play for 19 seasons, the Patriots owner unequivocally believes that Brady is the best player in NFL history -- not just at his position -- but the best player overall. 

"Definitely the greatest player of all-time -- not just quarterback in my opinion," Kraft said during a recent interview with ESPN. "Because he's such a leader in the locker room. For someone double the age of some of the players to be able to lead like that, and connect like that, and have the work ethic that he has, and at the same time so pleasant to be around -- I'm really the luckiest guy in the world."

Despite being a sixth-round pick, Kraft says that Brady was already exuding confidence when he walked into the Patriots locker room for the first time. 

"I think of him as that skinny young man coming down the steps of the old stadium with the pizza box and introducing himself to me," Kraft said. "I said, 'I know who you are, you're Tom Brady from Michigan, our sixth-round draft choice.' And he said, 'And I'm the best decision this organization has ever made.'"

Kraft attributes a lot of New England's success to the fact that Brady works hard and seems to get along with everyone on the team. 

"No one works harder or watches more film," Kraft said. "What a great example for young kids who come into the locker room; they were 5 or 6 years old watching him, or in their teens. Now they come in and he sets the example. His personality is so engaging."

Of course, Kraft also gives plenty of credit for the Patriots' success to Bill Belichick, who he believes is the greatest coach of all-time.  

"He's the GOAT of coaches, just like our quarterback is the GOAT of quarterbacks. And no one can dispute it," Kraft said. "The fact that our organization has been able to perform at this level in the age of the salary cap, when everyone spends the same amount of money, I'm pretty proud that we've been able to keep him and our quarterback together for 19 years."

What the Brady and Belichick have accomplished in New England will likely never be matched by anyone. Not only have they won 10 straight division titles, but they could be headed to their fourth Super Bowl in five years if they can upset the Chiefs. That run alone would be impressive by itself, but it hasn't just been five or 10 years of sustained success for the Patriots, it's been 19.  

CBS Sports Writer

John Breech has been at CBS Sports since July 2011 and currently spends most of his time writing about the NFL. He's believed to be one of only three people in the world who thinks that Andy Dalton will... Full Bio

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