Everyone these days have become so fixated with comparing Tom Brady and Peyton Manning that I feel there has been another quarterback who is often overlooked. Many of you might think I've lost it, and perhaps I am getting a bit crazy in my old age, but I have come to the conclusion that Carson Palmer (yes, Carson Palmer) is a better quarterback than Tom Brady.
Now don't worry, I did not start writing this article without any point and it really isn't meant to bash Tom Brady either. It just occurred to me that often times the line between "greatness" and actual god given ability can sometimes be blurred. Thus I feel is the case if one were to compare Tom Brady and Carson Palmer.
To those who feel that this debate should not even be made, such a comparison was not uncommon after the 2006 season. Carson Palmer at that time was red-hot and Tom Brady had not even made the Pro Bowl. He was given the invitation to come play as a reserve but instead opted to play in a celebrity golf tournament.
Carson Palmer, on the other hand, played and earned MVP honors.
So please, save your Pro Bowl bashing for another time because the comparison between Brady and Palmer should be the main focus here.
Since that time in 2006, Tom Brady went on to have one of the greatest seasons in NFL history.
This season both quarterbacks sustained season-ending injuries. Tom Brady's knee was torn up and Carson Palmer ripped a tendon and ligaments from the bone of his elbow.
So essentially, Tom Brady went out on top and Carson Palmer went out on the bottom which would lead many mis-guided fans to believe that this comparison does not have the merit to be made.
Well Brady-faithful, it does.
For a moment now please analyze the title of my article. Strange how I proclaimed Tom Brady to be greater but insisted that Carson Palmer to be better. Let me explain what I meant by that.
Greatness can be analyzed in many different ways. Usually people will view a great quarterback as someone who has won a lot of Super Bowls, put up a lot of big numbers, broken a lot of records and won a lot of games.
Any combination of the above mentioned usually translates to a quarterback's title of greatness.
Certainly, this is something that Tom Brady has personified. He is the biggest winner of our generation, has put up good numbers and has awards to boot. Simply put, Tom Brady is great and a first-ballot Hall of Famer in my opinion.
So how is Carson Palmer better?
Well you have to think about the factors that would make one quarterback better then another. If I were to ask you what makes Tom Brady better, you would probably say something along these lines...
1. Tom Brady is a winner
Yes, Tom Brady is a winner. He's won three Super Bowls and has the best winning percentage in NFL history. At the same time, you have to consider the circumstances that surrounds those victories.
He's played with one of the greatest coaches of all time. Every coordinator to come through New England was so good they became head coaches elsewhere. He's played with a top-tier defense for most of his career. His offensive line has been one of the best of the generation. He's played in the weakest division in modern memory.
Those are all things to consider when taking into account everything Brady has accomplished.
Carson Palmer on the other hand was drafted by the worst team in the past 20 years. You couldn't name one coordinator to have coached in Cincinnati. He's played with a relatively weak offensive line and an atrocious defense.
The circumstances are monumentally different therefore the "team" accomplishments are going to be vastly different as well.
2. Tom Brady has a stronger arm?
Does he? If you've watched both players play you'd probably have to give the slight advantage to Palmer in this department. Brady has a great arm but he is not as good of a natural pocket-passer as Palmer.
3. Tom Brady has to be more accurate
Actually, he's less accurate. Brady's career completion percentage is 63.0% and Palmer's is 63.7%.
4. Tom Brady has played with less quality receivers
You'd think because Chad Ocho Cinco and T.J. Houshmandzadeh have been to the Pro Bowl that Carson has played with better receivers right?
Chad Ocho Cinco was a second round draft selection. He did have success before Palmer became the starting quarterback but he played his best years under Carson Palmer.
T.J. Houshmandzadeh was a seventh round selection with absolutely no productivity before playing with Palmer. As a matter of fact, he never had more then 500 yards and one touchdown before playing with Palmer.
Now let's take a look at the statistical comparison of both quarterback over the span of their first four active seasons...
Tom Brady (2001-2004): 1,247 of 2,015 (61.8%) for 13,919 yards, 97 touchdowns, 52 interceptions and 43 fumbles. Quarterback Rating: 87.7
Carson Palmer (2004-2007): 1,305 of 2,036 (64.09%) for 14,899 yards, 104 touchdowns, 63 interceptions and 27 fumbles. Quarterback rating: 90.12
Now could you imagine how much more impressive Palmer statistics would have been had he played for a team that was even half good?
So what you have here is a comparison certainly worthy of mention. Tom Brady is greater for all the things he has done over his successful career. Carson Palmer is better for having a stronger arm, being more accurate, and just being the better overall football player.
If Tom Brady played for the Bengals and Carson Palmer played for the Patriots, Carson Palmer would be going to the Hall of Fame (which he might some day anyway) and Tom Brady would be a good quarterback on a losing team.
People simply have too much difficulty in separating team accolades with individual talent. Tom Brady has plenty of impressive accolades that will one day get him enshrined in Canton, but Carson Palmer has more individual talent.