By Ross Forman
Tom Savage didn’t hesitate or even pause. In fact, he answered the question almost before it had been asked entirely: Who is the best quarterback of all-time?
Tom Brady, he said.
“His poise, his competitiveness. He’s been doing it for so, so long, and just keeps getting better and better,” Savage said of Brady.
Savage, 28, a reserve quarterback for the Cincinnati Bengals who also spent three seasons with the Houston Texans, was selected in the fourth-round of the 2014 NFL Draft. He played college football at Rutgers, Arizona, and Pittsburgh.
Savage appeared in two games in 2014, and three games (two starts) in 2016. He played in eight of the Texans’ games in 2017. In his 125 completions in 2017 (in 223 attempts), he threw for more than 1,400 yards.
When asked if he’d prefer a team led by Brady or Joe Montana, Savage stuck with Brady.Same for Johnny Unitas and Terry Bradshaw, same situation.
Brady, 40, the star of the New England Patriots is one of only two players to win five Super Bowls (the other being Charles Haley) and the only player to win them all playing for one team. Brady is a five-time Super Bowl winner and four-time winner of the Super Bowl MVP award.
Brady has been selected to 12 Pro Bowls, and has led his team to more division titles (14) than any other quarterback in NFL history.
Brady is, without question, on the shortlist of best-ever, on every list.
Not bad for a sixth-round pick in the 2000 NFL Draft.
Brady’s Super Bowl glory in February 2017 was, arguably, his best ever.
Despite trailing by as many as 25 points (28–3) during the third quarter, Brady and the Patriots defeated the Atlanta Falcons, 34–28 in overtime. The Patriots’ 25-point comeback is the largest comeback in Super Bowl history, and Super Bowl LI was the first to be decided in overtime.
The game was played Feb. 5, 2017 at NRG Stadium in Houston – Savage’s home stadium when he played for the Texans.
“I was pulling for him, and it was one of the best comebacks of all-time. It was fun to watch, though kind of bittersweet since we wanted to be out there,” said Savage, who was in Houston during Brady’s Super Bowl heroics.
And Savage wasn’t surprised by the comeback.
“With Tom Brady at quarterback, there always is a chance they will come back. That’s the kind of offense that we want,” said Savage, picked 135th overall in the 2014 NFL Draft. “I just go out there, throw the ball around and have some fun.”
So who is Tom Savage?
“I’m a small-town guy who has worked hard to make it. My hobbies growing up were woodworking and playing video games.”
Savage also enjoys golf, though admittedly is not very good, he said. He even plays miniature-golf with his wife, “and I have to let her win,” he said, smiling. “Personally, I’ll stick with real golf.”
Savage has appeared on numerous cards over the past few years, including a 2014 Topps Platinum and Topps Strata rookie card, among others.
Savage was a card-collecting kid while growing up in Springfield, Pennsylvania.
“Of course I left all of my old cards at home, and I’m sure my parents got rid of (them),” said Savage, who collected baseball and, believe it or not, Pokémon cards.
And yes, he did download the mega-popular Pokémon Go app when it was the worldwide craze.
But, he added with a smile, “I did not walk around the city by myself, trying to collect Pokémon. I would (have), but I didn’t, well, maybe ….”
Savage now collects his cards for his family.
“It’s awesome to be on a trading card,” he said. “The autographs that I collect (now) are (from) guys on my team. They are my family, so those are the only autographs that I want.”
And yes, he does have some signatures from superstar J.J. Watt.
“I try to sneak in a few (autographs from Watt), like they are for a cousin, but then I just keep them,” Savage said, laughing.
At the end of the season, Savage usually gets his helmet or jersey signed by teammates.
“Those guys are the most important to me,” he said.
Savage has saved old jerseys and helmets, but none are hung or displayed at home.
As for his personal autograph, Savage said, “I’ve been working on it since I was in first-grade … and it hasn’t changed. It’s still sloppy as ever.”
Savage signed autographs last summer at a Tristar Productions card show in Houston.
“I’m honored to be able to (sign autographs),” he said.
And nothing yet is off-limits, that he won’t sign, Savage said.
Ross Forman is a freelance contributor to Sports Collectors Digest. He can be reached at Rossco814@aol.com.