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Tom Brady and Charles Woodson continue to live their best football lives

Two former Wolverines are poster children for greatness in very different ways.

Oakland Raiders v New England Patriots Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Tom Brady is the toast of the NFL again after leading the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a Super Bowl LV victory. The former Michigan quarterback now has seven titles and five Super Bowl MVPs to his name with a resume that is tough to knock no matter which way you slice it.

Brady’s weekend capped off a banner few days for a pair of former Wolverines and two of the most accomplished players in the history of the sport.

Heisman Trophy winner and former star defensive back Charles Woodson was also spotlighted on Super Bowl weekend. The Pro Football Hall of Fame announced its 2021 inductees on Saturday night and Woodson made the cut the first time his name appeared on the ballot.

Brady and Woodson were both members of Michigan’s 1997 National Championship team but took different paths to the NFL. Brady started his career as the seventh quarterback on Michigan’s depth chart in 1995 and worked his way into a starting role later on in his career, but was still overshadowed by the presence of Drew Henson. Woodson was seemingly a football prodigy from the start and capped off his career by winning a title and the most prestigious individual award in college sports.

As far as pro careers go, Woodson carried his college stardom into the NFL as the No. 4 overall pick of the Oakland Raiders in 1998. Brady had to wait for 198 names to get called ahead of his in the 2000 NFL Draft before being selected by the New England Patriots in the sixth round.

It did not take long for their paths to cross in the NFL in a moment that laid the foundation of a dynasty in New England and changed the trajectory of the next two decades of pro football.

You know how the rest of the story goes.

Both Woodson and Brady’s excellence has been felt by a pair of franchises, cementing them as having two of the best football resumes you will find. Each guy has been a poster child in one way or another for what sustained greatness in all of sports looks like.

To ask which player has had a more successful career depends on what your criteria is. It also depends on how much more Brady adds to his name. Still, Woodson’s high school and college stardom gives him a list of accomplishments that few can touch.

Comparing Woodson and Brady’s football accomplishments

Charles Woodson Tom Brady
Charles Woodson Tom Brady
Pro Football Hall of Fame (2021) 7× Super Bowl champion (XXXVI, XXXVIII, XXXIX, XLIX, LI, LIII, LV)
College Football Hall of Fame (2018) 5× Super Bowl MVP (XXXVI, XXXVIII, XLIX, LI, LV)
Super Bowl champion (XLV) 3× NFL Most Valuable Player (2007, 2010, 2017)
9× Pro Bowl (1998–2001, 2008–2011, 2015) 2× NFL Offensive Player of the Year (2007, 2010)
4× First-team All-Pro (1999, 2001, 2009, 2011) NFL Comeback Player of the Year (2009)
4× Second-team All-Pro (2000, 2008, 2010, 2015) 3× First-team All-Pro (2007, 2010, 2017)
NFL Defensive Player of the Year (2009) 2× Second-team All-Pro (2005, 2016)
NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year (1998) 14× Pro Bowl (2001, 2004-2005, 2007, 2009–2018)
2× NFL interceptions leader (2009, 2011) 4× NFL passing touchdowns leader (2002, 2007, 2010, 2015)
NFL 2000s All-Decade Team 3× NFL passing yards leader (2005, 2007, 2017)
Art Rooney Award (2015) 2× NFL passer rating leader (2007, 2010)
National champion (1997) NFL completion percentage leader (2007)
Heisman Trophy (1997) NFL 2000s All-Decade Team
Walter Camp Award (1997) Unanimous NFL 2010s All-Decade Team
Bronko Nagurski Trophy (1997) Sporting News 2010s All-Decade Team
Chuck Bednarik Award (1997) Unanimous NFL 100th Anniversary All-Time Team
Jim Thorpe Award (1997) Sporting News NFL Athlete of the Decade (2010s)
Sporting News Player of the Year (1997) Bert Bell Award (2007)
Big Ten Player of the Year (1997) Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year (2007)
Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year (1997) Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year (2005)
Big Ten Freshman of the Year (1995) National champion (1997)
2× First-team All-American (1996, 1997) Career earnings: $263,541,804
USA Today High School All-American (1994)
Mr. Football (Ohio) (1994)
Career earnings: $97,899,369

Brady is heading into his mid-40s looking to add his eighth Super Bowl ring to his fingers. Woodson is spending his by enjoying the fruits of his labor (and also turning them into booze). Regardless of who you think has lived the better football life, neither of these guys walks out of the debate as a loser by any stretch of the imagination.


Who has lived the best football life?

This poll is closed

  • 82%
    Tom Brady
    (192 votes)
  • 17%
    Charles Woodson
    (41 votes)
233 votes total Vote Now