Super Bowl XLIV might not have that big name team like the Cowboys to catch the attention of a viewer, or draw from a large media market such as New York to boost ratings, yet both teams are keeping the trash talking to a minimum. So, what is there to look forward to in this game, other than pure entertainment of football's grandest stage?
This Sunday, the average American football fan tuning into Super Bowl broadcast, might witness one of the best offensive showcase by the quarterback position in over a decade. The last truly memorable quarterback battle in the Super Bowl consisted of Brett Favre and John Elway dueling for the Lombardi Trophy in 1998.
Both Peyton Manning and Drew Brees are at the pinnacle of their NFL production and at the peak of their game. Peyton Manning threw for 33 touchdowns and 16 interceptions in the regular season and was named the league Most Valuable Player. Manning's opponent on Sunday, Drew Brees threw for 34 touchdowns and 11 interceptions and threw his name in the discussion with Brett Favre and Manning for league MVP.
Although Brees has the edge in both touchdown passes and interceptions, Manning passed for an unbelievable 4,500 yards. Brees came up just short of that total, finishing at 4,388 yards.
Many will compare the production and legendary status of Tom Brady, to the accomplishments of Peyton Manning and the potential to elevate himself as an all-time great quarterback.
To me, it is not as close as people think. Sure, Brady has the three Super Bowl rings, which could be the icing on the cake of this discussion, but I want to dissect this a little further.
Manning has started to etch his name in the history books, as the greatest quarterback to ever play the game. He has re-written the passing records for not only the Colts, but for the league as well. Brett Favre and Dan Marino are the only other quarterbacks in his neighborhood.
For Brady, I consider him to be in the category of Troy Aikman. Aikman happened to be on one of the most talented teams in Dallas Cowboys history let alone the whole decade in the 1990s. Couple that with the fact his teammates were Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin. Aikman won three Super Bowls in the 1990s with "America's Team", quite similar to Tom Brady with the Patriots earlier this decade.
Both Brady and Aikman have accomplished unparalleled glory on the grandest stage, however, both had tremendous supporting casts. Brady had a coach who knew how to win and had a mentality and strategy to follow through and do so. Aikman had the supporting cast around him as well as great coaches in Barry Switzer and Jimmy Johnson.
Manning on the other hand has seen players come and go. The Colts lost their running back Edgerrin James a few years back, and this season the Colts played without the services of Marvin Harrison and Anthony Gonzalez. The only constant has been the production of the Indianapolis Colts since the day Peyton Manning took hold of the reigns.
This Sunday, is Manning's opportunity to win his second Super Bowl and place his name with other two-time winners such as Bart Starr, Terry Bradshaw, Bob Griese, Joe Montana, Elway, Aikman, and yes Tom Brady.
But now, let's focus on the quarterback matchup with Brees and Manning.This will not be your typical potential offensive firework show, this is a guaranteed high scoring contest with these two quarterbacks leading their squads.
In Super Bowls past, the fans have witnessed match ups between Rich Gannon and Brad Johnson, a young inexperienced Ben Roethlisberger and Matt Hasselbeck, or even the "offensive showcase" that tilted Trent Dilfer against Kerry Collins.
This year, the quarterbacks will rule the stage. Peyton Manning will look to take the next step to elevating his name among the greatest of all time, and for Drew Brees, he has a chance to bring the city of New Orleans a piece of pride, and championship to call their own.
With the numbers that these quarterbacks have posted this season and in their careers, there is a slight possibility that those same stats and score lines will entertain even the rare football viewer, or at least, we can only hope.
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