Tom Brady -- absolutely, unquestionably, certifiably, definitively -- is THE GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) as far as NFL quarterbacks go. But he is not alone just within the confines of Boston sports. There is no shortage of GOATS in these parts.
Ted Williams, the last player to hit .400 over a season, had the burning desire to be remembered as the "greatest hitter of all time." And that is exactly how history notes the Splendid Splinter, who may have surpassed Babe Ruth's then standard of 714 home runs, save for his years in the military and a broken elbow sustained when crashing into the Green Monster at Fenway Park. Thus, Teddy Ballgame is THE GOAT.
Bobby Orr, the revolutionary Boston Bruins defenseman, may well be THE GOAT in hockey.
Bill Russell, in this writer's view, was not only the greatest basketball player who ever lived, but the greatest athlete who ever lived. Russell is THE GOAT. All that is missing is the fact that fans did not appreciate him at the time.
Red Auerbach, the ultimate basketball genius, was another Boston GOAT. He drafted with uncanny skill, invented the fast break and was known as Mr. Basketball because when he entered the fledgling NBA it was a slow, flatfooted, set-shooting game. Auerbach got Bob Cousy and Russell and the rest was history. Auerbach applied all the angles, including the soft spots on the Garden parquet, not allowing his players to sit during timeouts, having the visitors' showers Iack hot water, and puffing his famous victory cigar. It was all about the psyche, and Red was the master. As a basketball coach and front-office man, Red was THE GOAT.
Bill Belichick, the coach's coach, has to be THE GOAT in the category of football coaches. ln an era of free agency and player turnover it is hard to imagine an NFL team with a dynasty. But with Brady at the trigger, Belichick has achieved the most stunning coaching record in the pro game. How many times have writers and fans jumped on early-season lapses to signal that the Patriots' dominance was in the past, only to see another banner displayed at Gillette Stadium. Eighteen years at the helm, endless combinations on the field and the results seldom change.
Sunday's Super Bowl defeat may have tainted a lesser coach, but you know Belichick is going to shrug it off and come back stronger than ever.H
So if you are a fan of Boston teams, realize how blessed you are. This may never again happen in any city -- not now, not ever. The GOATS graze in these parts.
Harvey Robbins lives in Westford. He is a former Celtics beat writer and columnist for the Quincy Patriot Ledger.