The position of the quarterback is the most important position in the National Football League. They are the leaders of their teams, field generals, and often the most influential player on the field to their team's success.
It can sometimes be difficult to judge a quarterback's greatness simply due to the fact that many people can not agree on a solid criteria.
Is the greatest quarterback the one with the flashy numbers or his the greatest quarterback the most consistent winner?
The reason these questions often become difficult to resolve is because there are two sides to every argument.
For argument's sake, I've begged the following question...
What is more representative of an individual quarterback's greatness: winning the league's MVP award or winning the Super Bowl?
There can be no question that winning the Super Bowl is the primary goal of every quarterback (and if it isn't, it should be), but does that mean that winning the Super Bowl makes you the best quarterback in the football or does it simply mean that you happened to be the quarterback of the best "team" in the league?
I've chosen the quarterback position for this discussion simply because most people feel that it is the most important position in the sport and it is the quarterback who is often both judged and criticized for their success at attaining the goal of winning a championship.
In this article, I will discuss both the quarterback who've won the league MVP and quarterbacks who have won the Super Bowl that same year during this decade.
Since 2000, five quarterbacks have won the league MVP award.
1) Kurt Warner vs. Tom Brady (2001)
This instance is ironic because it ended up being Tom Brady who beat Kurt Warner in the Super Bowl that season, also winning Super Bowl MVP honors. But the real question here is who had the better season?
Kurt Warner: 375 of 546 (68.7%), 4,830 yards, 36 TD's, 22 INT's (QB Rating: 101.4)
Tom Brady: 264 of 413 (63.9%), 2,843 yards, 18 TD's, 12 INT's (QB Rating: 86.5)
Verdict: In this case it appears clear to me that Kurt Warner had a far better season than Brady, even though he lost to him in the Super Bowl. Looks to me more like a situation where the Patriots played a better game on that day and even so, it was really close.
Had Warner won the game you would never think to have this discussion in terms of comparing who had a better 2001. You could argue that Warner had a much better offense to work with, which is true. But even taking that into consideration I see Warner as the clear choice in this situation.
2) Rich Gannon vs. Brad Johnson (2002)
Rich Gannon: 418 of 618 (67.6%), 4,689 yards, 26 TD's, 10 INT's (QB Rating: 97.3)
Brad Johnson: 218 of 451 (62.3%), 3,049 yards, 22 TD's, 6 INT's (QB Rating: 92.9)
Verdict: To be fair, Brad Johnson did miss three games in 2002. But at the same time, does that mean we should credit him with his season averages for that span of time? You can't do that but I will take his missed time into consideration when viewing the statistics.
Rich Gannon on the other hand had a fantastic season that ended with him throwing five interceptions in the Super Bowl. No doubt, he had a horrible game. But I do not feel that one horrible game (albeit the Super Bowl) is enough to take away from an entire season of superior play. I say that Rich Gannon is the pick in this situation.
3) Peyton Manning vs. Steve McNair vs. Tom Brady
Peyton Manning: 379 of 566 (67.0%), 4,267 yards, 29 TD's, 10 INT's (QB Rating: 99.0)
Steve McNair: 250 of 400 (62.5%), 3,215 yards, 24 TD's, 7 INT's (QB Rating: 100.4)
Tom Brady: 317 of 527 (60.2%), 3,620 yards, 23 TD's, 12 INT's (QB Rating: 85.9)
Verdict: This year was an interesting situation because Peyton Manning and Steve McNair became co-MVP winners. I believe that Manning certainly had the better season, but not by leaps and bounds. McNair missed two games but that doesn't make up for being 1,000 yards behind.
If you're comparing McNair and Brady, I'd say that McNair had the better season despite not having the same post season success. I'd rank Manning first, McNair second, and Brady third in this situation. This is a year where they were closer than others to be fair though.
4) Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady (2004)
Peyton Manning: 336 of 497 (67.6%), 4,557 yards, 49 TD's, 12 INT's (QB Rating: 121.1)
Tom Brady: 288 of 474 (60.8%), 3,692 yards, 28 TD's, 14 INT's (QB Rating: 92.6)
Verdict: Is see no argument in this season. Manning had superior numbers in every category. Even if you try to be fair by taking into account Brady's postseason success, he still threw more interceptions in the regular season than Manning did all year (postseason included).
5) Tom Brady vs. Eli Manning (2007)
Tom Brady: 398 of 578 (68.9%), 4,806 yards, 50 TD's, 8 INT's (QB Rating: 117.2)
Eli Manning: 297 of 529 (56.1%), 3,336 yards, 23 TD's, 20 INT's (QB Rating: 73.9)
Verdict: Now here is where most Patriots fans reading the article expect me to bash Tom Brady, right? You probably think I was being unfair to him in all the other comparisons, but I really am trying to be fair here.
So, there can be no question what so ever that Tom Brady had the superior year. Furthermore, 2007 was by far the best season of his career.
Even if the Patriots went 12-4 instead of 16-0 and lost in the first round of the playoffs, it would still be Brady's best year. Eli got hot at the "end of the year" which almost never compensates for a full regular season of inferior play. Thus is the case in this situation, Brady is the obvious choice.
And I love Eli Manning and am certainly not a fan of Brady, but you got to be fair here.
So as you can see, it seems like the league MVP's usually have a more impressive year than the quarterbacks who win the Super Bowl. That is because "teams" win championships but great individuals can still dominate and are usually acknowledged with awards like the league MVP.
I feel there is far too much of an emphasis put on the value of players who excel at the end of the year.
I'm not saying my verdict will be the same every season but it certainly appears to me as if the league MVP's stand tall as the "best" quarterbacks of that particular season, even if they don't have a ring to go along with it.