By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) -- In the playoffs, legacies are made, championships are won (and lost), and everything that might have happened during the regular season might as well be ancient history. Everyone involved with the game knows this.
And when it comes to playoff time, there's still one quarterback who's still more feared by defensive players than anyone else. That quarterback is, of course, Tom Brady.
Same as it ever was.
While such statements aren't always quantifiable, but in this case, we've got data.
The Athletic polled 85 defensive players from 25 different teams on a number of different topics. The players were all asked this question: "Which quarterback would you least like to face in a big game?" Of the 85 players, 81 answered.
An overwhelming 52 percent picked Tom Brady. Of the 81 players answering the question. 42 picked Brady.
In second place was Aaron Rodgers, all the way down at 32 percent, or 26 out of 81 players.
Drew Brees (six votes) and Patrick Mahomes (number not specified) also received votes.
Of course, to every yin, there is a yang. And so, when players were asked which quarterback they'd most like to face in a big game, 18 percent chose Brady. That was the highest number, though the quarterbacks who received votes ranged from Hall of Fame talent to Nathan Peterman. Clearly, some players would prefer to face (and beat) a great quarterback, while others wouldn't mind an easy road.
"We are going to take it as the ultimate sign of respect that defensive players most want and least want to face the Patriots' Tom Brady in a big game," The Athletic staff surmised. "There is an overwhelming sense that Brady is the ultimate clutch quarterback, as evidenced by his five Super Bowl rings, and the guy you don't want to see across the line of scrimmage, but it is also clear that to at least a portion of NFL defensive players, to be the best, you've got to beat the best — and that means wanting to face Brady when it counts."
Two more fun facts: Kirk Cousins was voted as the most overrated quarterback, and 95 percent of the defensive players polled said that Colin Kaepernick belongs in the NFL. (Full results here.)
So while the national analysts come up with cockamamie methods of determining that Brady's as cooked as a Christmas goose, the players who might actually have to face him with an entire season on the line remain very much concerned about the prospect.
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