Tony Dungy and Bill Polian keep refusing to give Tom Brady and Bill Belichick credit
The former Colts coach and GM do not think highly of the Patriots players
For those of you sitting at the breakfast table snacking on avocado toast and too young to remember the halcyon days of the original Peyton Manning and Tom Brady rivalry, you need to know that things were bitter between the Patriots and the Colts. Those two teams really hated each other.
Apparently the disdain ---- has not ceased since the members of the Colts walked away from football. Peyton has been perfectly admirable of his old rival, but the mutual respect does not appear to extend to the coaching staff and front office of the old Colts teams.
To wit: both former Colts GM Bill Polian (now with ESPN) and former Colts coach Tony Dungy (now with NBC) never seem inclined to give Brady and Bill Belichick the credit they deserve. We can all agree that Belichick and Brady are among the very, very best at what they've done throughout NFL history right? You can stake a claim for maybe one quarterback over Brady and, if you want to be a jerk about it, maybe a coach or two over Belichick.
The list for Polian and Dungy, apparently, is much longer.
Polian took part in TheMMQB.com's "All-Time NFL Draft" with a bunch of different smart football people, both former evaluators (Ernie Accorsi, Polian, etc.) and media members (Bob McGinn, Rick Gosselin, both of whom have written more things about football than most of us will ever see in our lives). The people in the draft had to take players from any era and build a team, with everyone taking a coach in the final round (as far as I can tell, you couldn't take one sooner -- I would have taken Belichick in like the 10th round). Polian did not have an opportunity to take Brady, because Peter King stole him at No. 9, giving Polian Otto Graham instead at 10 overall.
But Polian did have a chance to take Belichick, and he passed on him twice, curiously choosing a pair of coaches in Marv Levy and ... Dungy. Polian worked with both guys, so they're his boys. I get the sentimentality and loyalty there, but come on. How on earth is Belichick not one of the first three coaches off the board? He actually went ninth, which is, well, just absurd. The guys ahead of him were good: Vince Lombardi, Bill Walsh, Levy, Dungy, Chuck Noll, Don Shula, Joe Gibbs and Tom Landry but passing on Belichick eight times is absurdity. Polian doing it twice himself is just wild.
Not as wild, however, as the decision by Dungy to rank Brady as the No. 6 quarterback of all time. Mike Sando of ESPN compiled a pretty fantastic ranking called the GOAT index where he asked a group of respected former NFL evaluators/coaches/etc. to rank the all-time great quarterbacks.
Pretty much everyone agreed Brady is one of the greatest ever ... except Dungy. Through the process of elimination we can determine where exactly Dungy ranked Brady. According to Sando, "Brady was first or second" on nine of the 10 ballots cast. Sando mentions that said that Dungy approached the exercise as a defensive coordinator and ranking guys based on how difficult they are to stop and that Dungy's "top three comprised John Elway, Steve Young and Aaron Rodgers" because of their prowess running the ball.
Sando also notes that the lowest Brady was ranked was No. 6, which means Dungy thinks Tom Brady is the sixth most difficult quarterback to face in NFL history. That is preposterous. Maybe you can take Joe Montana over Brady if you're ranking the greatest quarterbacks of all time, but you can't put Brady SIXTH.
Going out on a short limb, the guess here is that Dungy also had Manning above Brady and, um, maybe Otto Graham or Montana? Who knows. This is the guy who once voted for Bobby Wagner for MVP after the linebacker played half a season.
Dungy also pointed out that Brady wouldn't be Brady without Belichick.
"I don't think Bill Belichick would be Bill Belichick without Tom Brady, and Brady would not have the same success without Belichick and the way they have put that team together," Dungy said.
It's not an uncommon take, per se, or even an incorrect one, because certainly the greatness of each fades a little bit without the other one to help build the Patriots dynasty. But it's a back-handed compliment from a former rival.
Compare that with Wade Phillips, one of the greatest defensive coordinators of all time talking about Brady.
"I just think he's the hardest to defend against," Phillips said. "It doesn't matter who their receivers are."
That's just more accurate. Phillips is speaking the truth here -- Brady and Belichick are one of the most dangerous combos in the history of the game and Brady has continued to dominate up until the age of 40. Forty!
The fact that the Patriots emerge victorious more often than not against the Colts probably fuels some of this, and it's definitely not the first time we've heard the ex-Colts folks downplay the Patriots. Polian said this offseason thatyet oddly when the quarterback came out of Michigan.
Sometimes it's tough to give credit to a rival, but it's strange that these guys continue to do this well into life after playing for the Colts. Maybe it's because the Patriots core is still hanging around winning Super Bowls.
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