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On Wednesday, ESPN’s First Take hosted a Mike and the Mad Dog reunion, where legendary sports talk radio host Mike Francesa joined Stephen A. Smith and his longtime co-host, Chris “Mad Dog” Russo, to debate the hottest sports topics of the day. And as fate would have it, the sports fairies sprinkled a little magic on this reunion, and the Tom Brady retirement announcement went live right before the show hit the air. Debating Brady’s GOAT status was a topic befitting a Francesa, “Mad Dog,” and Stephen A. debate show, and as you’d expect, Francesa had a polarizing take on the subject.  

Mike Francesa throws “a little oil” on the Tom Brady retirement

As the sports world swooned over the latest Tom Brady retirement, three of the greatest sports debaters of all time sat on the same First Take set at ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut.  

Stephen A. Smith — the modern-day master of the hot take — was joined by Mike Francesa and Chris “Mad Dog” Russo, two of the inventors of the format who hosted their iconic New York City sports talk radio show together for nearly 20 years.

Although Francesa is now a semi-retired podcast host, he showed up in First Take with guns blazing at Brady. Telling Russo and Smith he was about to “throw a little oil on the ceremony,” the Long Island native explained why he doesn’t think Brady is the greatest quarterback in NFL history.

“He’s not the best regular season quarterback I’ve ever seen. Peyton Manning was. He’s not the best Super Bowl quarterback who ever lived. Joe Montana is,” Francesa explained. “What he is, though, is the guy who played the longest and won the most games. He won the most Super Bowls. So, he will be remembered because nobody is going to play 23 years, and nobody is probably ever gonna have a chance to win that many Super Bowls. It’s almost impossible to do. He was in the right place, with the right coach, and he was that competitive.”

Francesa did admit that he doesn’t have a problem with people considering Brady the GOAT “because longevity matters, and that means records and winning all those Super Bowls matters because that’s how we keep score.”

Still, Francesa believes that if he had to pick a QB to win just one game for him, Joe Montana is his guy.

Is Tom Brady the GOAT?

Mike Francesa, First Take, Tom Brady, Tom Brady retirement, Mike and the Mad Dog
(L-R) Mike Francesa, Tom Brady | Jim Spellman/WireImage; Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images

So, the question is, did Mike Francesa get it right on First Take?

Well, he was right about a lot of things. After the Tom Brady retirement, the QB steps away as the all-time leader in passing yards (89, 214) and passing touchdowns (649) but is ninth all-time in passing yards per game (266.3). That shows longevity did play a role.

Also, while Brady has three more Super Bowls (seven) than Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw, both those QBs were 4-0 in the Big Game while Brady was 7-3.

It’s also worth noting that while Francesa says Brady “was in the right place, with the right coach,” the QB won his seventh Super Bowl with Bruce Arians in Tampa Bay, while Bill Belichick has barely sniffed the playoffs since his QB left the team.

Brady may not be the best at any one thing, but the fact that he’s among the best at everything and won more rings than any quarterback to ever do it makes him the GOAT, no questions asked.


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