Tom Brady won his seventh Super Bowl title on Sunday.
Add that to his almost embarrassingly long list of career accomplishments — starting with three regular-season MVP awards and 14 trips to the Pro Bowl — and you have a resume that’s unmatched in NFL history.
By baseball standards, though? He’s basically an elite Yankee.
It’s not an equal comparison, of course, comparing baseball players and football players, but it’s a fun discussion about championships and the players who won lots of them. Brady has seven Super Bowl titles, and he’s the only NFL player with more than five, but 12 baseball players have at least seven World Series titles and 55 have at least five rings. Of the 12, every single player on that list won at least four titles with the Yankees; of the 55, only four reached the five-ring plateau without winning a single championship with the Yankees.
But to the point of this conversation, most of the players on this list fall short — some way, way short — of superstar status. So let’s limit the discussion to the baseball players who reach these Brady standards: seven championships AND three MVPs (with a couple of caveats).
The numbers: Three MVPs, seven World Series titles (all with Yankees)
Mantle won his first World Series title at 19 years old, in 1951, but tore up his knee in Game 2 of that series, the first in a seemingly never-ending stretch of maladies that impacted his career. In retrospect, it really is amazing that Mantle was able to accomplish as much as he did considering how often he was injured. He won the AL MVP in 1956, 1957 and 1962 and finished as the MVP runner-up three more times. He was named to the AL All-Star team in 16 different seasons.
The numbers: Three MVPs, nine World Series titles (all with Yankees)
DiMaggio’s last World Series title was in 1951, the same year as Mantle’s first championship. That’s the only year the two played together; DiMaggio retired after the 1951 World Series, about a month shy of his 37th birthday. Oh, and DiMaggio missed three seasons in his prime — 1943-45, his Age 28-30 seasons — serving in the military. Those three seasons spent serving his country limited him to “only” 13 All-Star selections, falling one short of Brady’s 14 Pro Bowls. Feels like he gets a pass for that, right?
The numbers: Three MVPs, 10 World Series titles (all with Yankees)
Berra won his first title at 22 years old, in 1947, and his last at 37. He was overshadowed nationally by DiMaggio and Mantle, and even Roger Maris for a couple of years, but Berra was the constant, the bridge that connected the DiMaggio and Mantle eras and kept the championship train moving. And let’s be clear: While he might not have generated as many headlines, he was far from a second-tier player. There’s a reason why he won three MVP awards — 1951, 1954-55 — and finished top four in four other years. There’s a reason why he made the All-Star team every single year from 1948 to 1962.
The numbers: One MVP, seven World Series titles (four with Yankees, three with Red Sox)
It feels weird to make excuses for Babe Ruth, who was arguably the most impactful player in baseball history. But there’s a very good reason why he only won one MVP. Until the BBWAA took over voting for the yearly award in 1931, after a player won the award once, he was ineligible to win again in his career. So after Ruth won the 1923 award, it didn’t matter that he batted .378 in 1924 or hit 60 homers in 1927 or averaged 52 homers, 154 RBIs and a .348 batting average from 1926 to 1929. He wasn’t even on the ballot. Oh, and there wasn’t an award handed out in 1930, when he led the league with 49 homers and batted .359. He wasn’t eligible again until his Age 36 season, when he finished fifth (despite a 10.5 bWAR).
The numbers: Two MVPs, eight World Series titles (all with Yankees)
Same basic thing for Gehrig. He won the award in 1927, but wasn’t eligible when he led the AL in RBIs (147) and batted .374 in 1928, and there was no award in 1930, when he led the league in RBIs (173) and batted .379. The first five years after the award came back in 1931, Gehrig finished second, second, fourth, fifth and fifth, before winning his second MVP in 1936. It should also be pointed out that Gehrig’s fifth-place finish in 1934 happened despite that he won the Triple Crown, with a .363 average, 49 homers and 166 RBIs. Gehrig was “only” a seven-time All-Star, but that’s because the All-Star Game wasn’t a thing until 1933. It’s also why Ruth was only a two-time All-Star. Gehrig was a rookie for the 1923 Yankees, but didn’t play in the World Series. And in his final year, he was forced to retire early in the 1939 season. The Yankees won the World Series both years, though he didn’t appear in the games.