In his final weeks as a linebacker supreme, the Baltimore Ravens’ Ray Lewis has been feted and fawned over as if he were the greatest defensive player of all time. Quarterbacks face a different standard, however, a more quantifiable measure of greatness. For them, like coaches and N.B.A. superstars, the question is more cut and dried:
How many victories — and in particular how many title rings — do you have?
All discussion of the normally monolithic N.F.L. seemed to be suspended during the run-up to its conference championship games, obscured by a fictitious girlfriend and a fake on a bike. But television ratings are testimony to the fact that weekends from September to early February belong to the likes of Tom Brady and Lewis, who had a team-leading 6 solo tackles and 14 in all as the Ravens stunned Brady and the Patriots, 28-13, on Sunday night at Gillette Stadium.
From Brady’s side of the plot line, the Patriots’ second-half collapse and his failure to reach a sixth Super Bowl — which would have been a record for quarterbacks — further diminished the narrative of him as the greatest in history at his exalted position.