"Stats are for losers. Final scores' for winners."—Bill Belichick
17-14 Giants over the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.
21-17 Giants over the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI.
No one can argue the fact that the Giants have won two Super Bowls that the Patriots have lost, but I can argue that the greater quarterback has walked away with no rings to show for his efforts while the lesser quarterback walked away a Super Bowl MVP, twice.
A flawed criteria for evaluating quarterbacks may seem to favor the younger Manning, yet logic stands in opposition to it. Think about it.
Tom Brady hasn't won a championship since Andrew Luck and Cam Newton were prepping for the SATs.
If postseason Super Bowl success is the true measuring stick for quarterbacking greatness, we would then have to give the nod to Manning, the man who has twice "gotten the job done" over Brady, who continues to struggle during "the only time of year that matters."
It's nonsensical people, but the flawed criteria supports it.
The 2007 New England Patriots were one of the greatest teams in NFL history, yet they lost to a Wild Card Giants team on the grandest stage of them all.
In 2007, Tom Brady set an NFL record by throwing 50 touchdown passes.
In 2007, Eli Manning led the NFL by throwing 20 interceptions.
But that was just during the "regular season", right?
Manning ended the season hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.
Manning ended the season by winning during the "only time that matters."
It's nonsensical still—was anyone really to believe that the better quarterback won?
Fast forward to 2009 and Brady goes 23-of-42 for 154 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions to post a 49.1 passer rating in a 33-14 Foxboro playoff loss to Joe Flacco's Baltimore Ravens.
You can't seriously tell me that Flacco was the better quarterback, but he did defeat a first-ballot Hall of Famer in his home stadium during the "only time that matters", right?
Not a terrible performance by any means, even though Brady was outperformed by Sanchez, who went 16-of-25 for 194 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions to post a 156.8 passer rating.
Surely no sane person was going to call Sanchez the better quarterback, even though he outperformed and defeated the 2010 NFL MVP in his home stadium during the "only time that matters", right?
Is anyone starting to see a pattern to this nonsense?
Fast forward to 2011 and we see Brady light up the Denver Broncos in the postseason.
One would have thought that Brady had finally gotten the postseason monkey off his back.
Until he played in the AFC Championship Game.
Brady was once again outperformed by Flacco, only this time he won.
Brady went 22-of-36 for 239 yards, zero touchdowns and two interceptions to post a 57.5 passer rating.
"Well, I sucked pretty bad today but our defense saved us." Brady said.
How many GOAT-candidates could perform like that in a conference championship game and still win—besides Brady of course, who went 22-of-33 for 209 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions to post a 66.4 passer rating in a victorious effort against the San Diego Chargers during the 2007 AFC Championship Game?
Yes, Brady has struggled during the postseason.
He's turned the ball over during home game "one-and-done" playoff losses.
He's led the Patriots to an average of 15.5 points per game in two Super Bowl losses.
But Tom Brady is still better than Eli Manning.
The very flawed argument that was once used to portray Brady as one of the greatest of all time (championship rings and Super Bowl performance) is now the same argument that could be used to justify Eli Manning as being the better quarterback of the two.
Now the same argument that has been used to defend Peyton Manning as being better than Tom Brady is now the same argument that substantiates Tom Brady as being better than Eli Manning.
How's that for irony?
A first-ballot Hall of Fame quarterback becomes a regular-season statistical juggernaut, a multiple-time MVP award winner, lighting up the Denver Broncos in the postseason but then seeming to struggle in both "one-and-done" home playoff losses and championship game defeats.
Who am I talking about now? Sounds familiar.
Was that not once the very resume of one Peyton Manning?
Look into the eyes of a man who has now lost two Super Bowls to a lesser quarterback and re-read the same nonsense that was once used to knock Tom Brady’s arch nemesis.
"Oh, well that was just during the regular season."
Peyton Manning and Tom Brady have won a combined six NFL MVP awards, winning a combined zero championships during those seasons.
"The postseason is the only time that matters."
Peyton Manning hasn't won a Super Bowl in five years; Tom Brady hasn't won a Super Bowl in seven years.
"We judge quarterbacks by how well they play on the grandest stage, when the stakes are at their highest."
Peyton Manning lost his last Super Bowl; Tom Brady has lost his past two Super Bowls.
Could it be that football is a team sport?
Could it be that the lesser team can win on any given Sunday?
Could it be that maybe the masses have adopted a flawed criteria all along?
Think about it.
Was he the better quarterback?
Alex Smith defeated Drew Brees in the postseason this year.
Was he the better quarterback?
Now Eli Manning has defeated both Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady in the same postseason.
By the masses’ very criteria, Manning would have to be the best of the three.
In 2007, Brady had one of the greatest seasons in NFL history, leading his team to an 18-0 record before facing Eli Manning in the playoffs.
In 2011, Aaron Rodgers had one of the greatest seasons in NFL history, leading his team to a 20-1 run that included a Super Bowl victory before facing Eli Manning in the playoffs.
Manning won again.
Tom Brady then gets his shot a revenge by facing off against a man who couldn’t possibly pull off a fluke victory for the third time in a row (keeping in mind that the Giants defeated the Patriots 24-20 during their Week 9 contest in Foxboro).
And Eli Manning wins a second Super Bowl at Tom Brady’s expense.
Should it really have taken the impossible to become a reality for people to finally realize that overvaluing playoff success is a detriment to sensible quarterbacking evaluation?
For the same reason why Peyton Manning remained the best quarterback the NFL had to offer when healthy, Brady remains one of the greatest to ever play the game in spite of losing two games the pundits said he couldn’t afford to lose.
It might contradict the very reason we glorified him to begin with, but there is no denying the fact that the better quarterback walked out of his second consecutive Super Bowl with nothing but an “L” to show for his efforts.
Ever since the Patriots stopped being able to win championships, Brady has actually become a better quarterback.
That's right, zero rings to show for it in spite of substantial "individual" improvement.
People have fallen in love with the heroic notion that “the greatest quarterbacks win championships” when oftentimes it’s the lesser men who walk off the field victorious.
Football is a “team sport,” and not even the best teams end up winning championships.
The NFL’s playoff system is imperfect, and playoff success is perhaps the most overrated criteria constructed when it comes to evaluating the “individual” talent and contributions of the game’s greatest quarterbacks.
That's what you get for attributing a monumental weight of importance to a date on the calendar even if it be at the cost of overlooking an entire season's worth of effort.
Tom Brady, the statistical juggernaut who carries less than spectacular teams to victories they wouldn’t have earned otherwise.
Tom Brady, the Pro Bowl regular who wins multiple NFL MVP awards only to come up short during “the only time that matters."
You’re no longer the “Tom Brady of old."
That title might as well be given to another two-time Super Bowl MVP who drives his team down for winning points in the final minutes of championship games.
You, Tom Brady, have become the very thing your own fans once preached to be “overrated."
You, Tom Brady, have become the next Peyton Manning.
And for the same reason why Peyton Manning has always been better than you, you, Tom Brady, will always be better than Eli Manning.
Ryan Michael is a Senior Writer for Bleacher Report.
Professional inquiries can be directed to his email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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