Perhaps that is why the debate continues to rage on.
While one player is the beneficiary of reasonable common sense, the other is held to a stricter standard in an effort to assure the attempted establishment of his inferiority.
After having taken part in countless Manning vs. Brady debates, a few things have become abundantly clear.
Although both sides rarely tend to see eye to eye, it is perfectly acceptable to apply various forms of logic when analyzing Brady's career, while very similar forms of logic are often attacked when used in Manning's defense.
Case in point:
Tom Brady has not managed to attain the same level of statistical production as Peyton Manning.
One of the first thoughts that comes to mind when recognizing this vital aspect of comparative analysis is to be inclined to think that the lower statistical production is a result of Brady's inability to produce at Manning's level.
However, with further evaluation one can quickly understand that circumstance plays a vital role in the production of any player. Quality of competition, team location, and offensive/defensive/special teams support all have roles in how productive a quarterback can be.
The most common of Brady's defenses would be the argument that he has played with less talented receivers for the majority of his career. This argument is based in logic for sure, so it's also reasonable in my view to assume that his production may have been greater had he been the beneficiary of greater support.
Yet for some reason, it's become perfectly acceptable to make reasonable assumptions—so long as they favors Brady.
On the other hand, similar reasonable conclusions can be made in Manning's case.
For the majority of his career, Manning has played with mediocre to poor defensive talent on the other side of the ball. It is my opinion that defense is just as valuable as offense when it comes to winning football games.
Logically, the less support you have in this department is going to result less opportunities to win football games.
So while it has become universally accepted to believe that Brady would have been more productive with better offensive support, it has been steadily ignored to make the logical assumption that Manning would have won more games with better defensive support.
Often when this train of thought is proposed, it is often disregarded with the "you just never know" viewpoint established.
Because when one makes logical assumptions that favor Manning's legacy, it becomes all too easy to attack this thought process as "unrealistic what if's."
When one makes logical assumptions to favor Brady's legacy, it's a matter of "common sense."
Another example can be found in offensive line support.
Many have reached the reasonable conclusion that Tom Brady would have played better in Super Bowl XLII had he received better protection. At the same time, it's logical to assume that the Patriots would have won the game had this aspect of their performance been better.
Obviously both Tom Brady and the Patriots as a whole would have done better had Brady not been sacked five times.
I'd be the first person to point out that this is a very reasonable assumption, therefore I don't fault Brady for losing Super Bowl XLII.
On the other hand, it has not become universally accepted to point out that the Colts might have won their 2005 Divisional playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers had Peyton Manning not been sacked five times himself.
It becomes "throwing your team under the bus" to point out what happened to Manning but "common sense" to point out what happened to Brady.
Another example would be if you flashback to 2007 and look at what both Manning and Brady did against the exact same San Diego Chargers football team in the post-season.
Peyton Manning: 33 of 48 for 402 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions.
Quarterback Rating: 97.7
Tom Brady: 22 of 33 for 209 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions.
Quarterback Rating: 66.3
Still, Peyton Manning takes the heat for being a choker when his team loses 28-24, while Tom Brady simply cannot ever be labeled a choker so long as his team wins.
The fact is that if the rest of Brady's team did not support him as well as they did, Brady would have lost just as Manning did. At the same time, Peyton Manning lost his game despite playing better than Brady against the exact same team.
Is any of this supposed to change anyone's mind?
Of course not.
The Manning supporters will continue to back Manning while the Brady supporters will continue to support Brady.
What has become clear, however, is the fact that Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are held to different standards.
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