New England Patriots: Franchise player

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

Readers' pick: Tom Brady, QB

With the exception of young franchises such as the Houston Texans or Baltimore Ravens, active players can be difficult to vote for as the greatest ever. Their careers are still unfolding, their legacies changeable.

Despite 48 years of players, Tom Brady's career towers over all other New England Patriots.

Part of Brady's colossal stature is that only two career Patriots -- guard John Hannah and outside linebacker Andre Tippett -- have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

But even a crowded field would have trouble touching Brady.

Through their first 42 years the Patriots won zero championships. Brady has since guided them to three Super Bowl titles, claiming the game's MVP award twice. That's enough to cement his status as a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

Brady last year directed perhaps the most merciless offense in NFL history. He threw for a record 50 touchdowns and just eight interceptions, propelling the Patriots to an unprecedented 16-0 regular-season record and two playoff victories. His ankle injury in the Super Bowl played a role in their inability to close out their perfect campaign.

He owns the best winning percentage (.782) of any quarterback in the Super Bowl era, higher than Joe Montana, Roger Staubach, Troy Aikman, Terry Bradshaw and Bart Starr. Brady owns the second-highest playoff winning percentage (.824) behind only Starr.

Not many active players can be mentioned in the same sentence as those names.