OK, so you know already that the greatest quarterback of all time is a first-ballot lock to make the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But because of his consistent greatness and supernatural longevity, there's a case to be made that he actually has had three distinct -- and incredible -- HOF careers.
We divided Brady's 21-year career before this past season -- 20 with the Patriots, one with the Bucs -- and evaluated all three eras independent from each other to make judgments. Our panel of Hall of Fame voters then gave a thumbs-up or thumbs-down on each of the seven-year spans. You might be surprised by the results. (Note: This project was originally posted in Nov. 2021, and it does not include the 2021 season.)
ESPN senior writer, Pro Football Hall of Fame voter
In the debate of individual accolades vs. honors and team success, the quarterbacks with both are the only real slam dunks in the Hall of Fame process, which makes this Brady era the toughest to consider. This version of Brady doesn't have the stats of the two later eras (though he did lead the league in touchdown passes in 2002 and passing yards in 2005).
Still, there are only three quarterbacks enshrined who played entirely in the Super Bowl era whose teams won at least three Super Bowls with them as starters (Joe Montana, Terry Bradshaw, Troy Aikman). This era would make Brady the fourth.