PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan) – Spare me.

After all, this is just opinion.

So spare me the whole: “DEBATE OVER!” and “HE’S THE BEST EVER NOW!” and “IT’S FACT!” stuff that I have been reading and consuming since the New England Patriots won the Super Bowl and Tom Brady earned his fifth title.

For my liking, far too many people want to shout down at everyone and tell them how Tom Brady — even though this would be a statement of opinion and not fact — is the greatest quarterback in the history of the world. Period. End of Story.

Yeah, they throw in that “period” for added emphasis, I guess. They say “end of story” as if the discussion needs to end, I guess.

Well, I got some news for you: Such a thought is merely opinion; so stop trying to pass it off as fact. There really isn’t a right or wrong answer. If you want to construct an argument for Joe Montana or Terry Bradshaw or a few other men, I can and will listen to it.

It isn’t a crazy notion to think someone else might still be the greatest quarterback who ever lived.

Got it? You stating Brady is the GOAT is opinion, so come off your “you-don’t-know-what-you-are-talking-about” shtick when I don’t necessarily agree with you.

But there’s really much more to it in Brady’s instance.

You see, I will never be able to quantify the full gravity of how much the man benefitted from his franchise’s cheating ways.

Did Tom Brady complete one more pass in his life because his franchise cheated?

Did Tom Brady complete zero passes for zero yards as a result of either him or his franchise cheating?

Did Brady gain a great advantage at times in his career (Games? Months? Seasons?) as a result of some things not being done above board and he and his offense directly benefitting?

Did he win an AFC Championship Game on a frozen field where two rivers form to make a third because he illegally obtained information? Some insist that’s the case.

It is all so cloudy and murky; all so leaden and foggy that it forces me to question every single yard this man accumulated throughout his career. Quite simply, because I don’t know how many were amassed legally or illegally, in my estimation it is more than fair to wonder just how fair Tom Brady’s accomplishments have been.

That’s why, for me at least, he will never be considered the greatest. Instead, he should be considered a man with a gargantuan amount of talent who led his team to much acclaim but who also should be made to have an asterisk next to everything.

There is — again for me — simply too much doubt.

I am going to wonder just how deep the cheating went.

Forever.

I am going to wonder just how much Tom Brady accomplished because of proprietary information he was made privy to that was gathered through means deemed illegal by the NFL or by using equipment he manipulated.

Forever.

I am going to wonder how much Spygate and Deflategate gave Bill Belichick unfair advantages — particularly the former and particularly early in his Patriots’ career – over opponents.

Forever.

After all, the fines were real.

The docked draft picks were real.

Tom Brady’s suspension — that was real.

All that stuff happened in real life. It wasn’t fabricated.

So you can go ahead and keep crowning Tom Brady the greatest who ever lived.

Your opinion, your right. Knock yourself out and call him the GOAT and all that stuff.

Me? I’m perfectly fine questioning the validity of his career because the fact — not opinion — is that his franchise cheated while he was the quarterback.

Colin Dunlap is a featured columnist at CBSPittsburgh.com. He can also be heard weekdays from 5:40 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Sports Radio 93-7 “The Fan.” You can e-mail him at colin.dunlap@cbsradio.com. Check out his bio here.

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