Author Sean Glennon refers to himself as an “amateur football historian.” He is a freelance writer who has previously written on the topics of art, music, and history; yet he has never been a beat writer, he never covered a specific sports team for the local newspaper. What Sean Glennon is, is an avid football fan, like you and me, who just happens to be a “literary journalist,” as he calls himself.
Glennon’s recent book, “Tom Brady vs. the NFL: The Case for Football’s Greatest Quarterback,” brings up a complicated and, very much heated debate. Who is the best quarterback ever to the play game? Is it Brady? Manning (either or)? Starr? Montana? The answer to that question will never be clear-cut, but the actual point in time that Glennon wrote his book brings up yet another question.
How can you make the case for a guy being the greatest quarterback in league history if he is still playing? Tom Brady is in his 13th season out of the University of Michigan, compiling seven Pro Bowl appearances, five Super Bowl appearances, including three wins, and two NFL MVP awards. Sure, the case is certainly there for Brady to be dubbed the greatest quarterback ever to play the game, but who knows what his remaining years in the NFL will do to his legacy. Just this past year, Brady and the New England Patriots lost their second consecutive Super Bowl to the New York Giants, perhaps hurting Glennon’s case even more in the eyes of Montana and Manning(s) fans everywhere.
The author/ “amateur football historian”/ “literary journalist” stopped by Steve Fox’s Sports Journalism class at the University of Massachusetts, Wednesday, to talk about his book and offer some insight as to why and how the book came about, while also touching upon the hardest parts of displaying his argument.
Glennon’s most difficult task was how to figure it out how to crown Brady as the best quarterback ever without disrespecting NFL history, and without it becoming a “stat book”. He was afraid if he, “hammered the readers with stat after stat, the book wouldn’t be a story,” which is what Glennon is in the business for; he wants to be a “storyteller, not a stat-teller.”
“The Book almost killed me,” he said, “I had to make people care about a book who didn’t care about passer rating.”
Tearing down the legends of Terry Bradshaw and Bart Starr was not the way he wanted to tell his story. What Glennon wanted was to create a book about Brady the football player, nothing else, and hopefully in the process sway his readers into agreeing with him.
Glennon believes he created a book that does just what he intended it to do; one that tells the story of a football player, and explains why this player is the best quarterback ever to play the game. When asked how he could possibly compare Brady to players from a variety of different time periods, Glennon said it was difficult, yet it almost helps his argument.
“Brady is playing against athletes who train all year long and against complicated schemes that (the quarterbacks before him) could only dream of.”
Could Tom Brady be the best quarterback to ever play the game? Who knows? The New England Patriot hero still has a few years to either make or break Glennon’s argument, but as the author even said himself,
“Some quarterback, years from now, will probably come along and be even better than Brady was.”
It’s a difficult topic to debate, nearly an impossible one, but Sean Glennon certainly makes an awfully great case.