NFL-New_England_Patriots-Peyton_Manning_vs_Tom_Brady_A_Debate_Resolved_-131107">Chris Radez's recent article, which asserts that Tom Brady is a better quarterback than Peyton Manning, really got the wheels spinning in my head.
For the last five years, I've been tortured with the question of which of these two phenomenal field generals is superior. Until recently, they have seemed nearly impossible to compare, as Manning's dominance in the regular season and Brady's ability to step it up in the playoffs seemed to cancel each other out to a large extent.
But at the end of last season, Manning was holding the Lombardi trophy high in the air—which amongst other things, made me quite confident that he was indeed the better of the two, and simply hadn't had enough chances to prove his ability to play when it counts.
Now Tom Brady is on fire in the regular season. He's putting up Peyton-like numbers, only better. Has Brady perhaps never had the recieving core he needed to post a record season?
The debate rages on—amongst both the football fans of America and the voices in my head.
But I decided today that I was going to end this debate once and for all. That I would examine the issues at hand extremely carefully, and make a final determination as to whether Peyton Manning or Tom Brady is better.
In my judgment, there are three questions that need to be examined when stacking up the two side by side:
1) Who is the better passer?
2) Who is the better quarterback?
3) Who is the better player?
Let's address these one by one:
Peyton's got one of the quickest releases and most accurate arms in NFL history. Brady is an accurate passer in his own right, and has better range than Peyton. Both have good decision making skills, but Brady's are probably a hair better.
However, the numbers simply don't lie in this case. Peyton has had seven 4000 yard passing seasons, compared to Brady one. Peyton has thrown 25 or more touchdowns in every season he has played in the NFL; Brady has done it only four times.
Brady's career quarterback rating is an impressive 92.2. Peyton's is an even more outstanding 94.2.
Perhaps most telling, Brady has only been to three pro bowls in his six years in the league, while Peyton has gone to seven pro bowls in ten years.
Both Brady and Manning are two of the best passers the league has ever seen. But Peyton is a little bit better.
Winner: Peyton Manning
Determining the better "quarterback" requires that one tevaluate the overall skills of Peyton and Brady as field generals and leaders, rather than pure passers.
Peyton Manning may be the best "field general" in a pure sense that the football world has seen since Johnny Unitas. That no-huddle offense he led in 04' was more intimidating than Andrew Jackson's ass-whopping of the british in the Battle of New Orleans. Peyton had total control of the team; he marched the troops downfield and called whatever plays he wanted too. And he got the Colts into the end zone, time and time again.
Tom Brady has never led the Patriots with the same kind of uncanny awarness of everything on the field. His performance this year has been nothing short of magical, but it comes down more to the Pats having a well rounded, dominating offense than it does to Brady calling audibles at the line of scrimmage and faking defenses out left and right.
But something that Brady does regularly, and that Peyton struggles to do, is play big in big situations.
Brady has won three Super Bowls, and is on his way to a fourth. He has a 12-2 career postseason record.
In each of the Pats' first two Super Bowl victories, Brady led a march at the end of the game which resulted in the winning field goal. In the Pat's most recent Super Bowl victory, he instead captured the MVP.
Peyton may have won the big game last year, but we all know that playing big in big games isn't his forte. His 7-6 career playoff record appears respectable upon first glance—until you consider that four of the wins came last year.
So there you have it: the better field general vs. the better clutch performer.
Who am I to decide?
Determining whether Manning or Brady is the better football player pretty much comes down to a simple question: which of the two means more to their team?
This is perhaps the most difficult question of all to answer in the entire debate, as both are clearly the lifeblood of their organizations.
Brady and Peyton are coached by some of the league's brightest minds—but you'd undoubtedly have to give Bellichick the nod over Dungy. Peyton Manning has had the luxury of throwing to Marvin Harrison throughout his career, while Brady had to settle for Deion Branch and David Givens.
Defensively speaking, the Pats have consistently been better than the Colts—same with the O-line. And you'd have to give the Colts the edge (for Edge) as far as running game is concerned.
In essence, it's hard to say who has had the superior supporting cast.
Ultimately though, what it comes down to is that Brady ignites a fire in the Patriots reminiscent of the great Joe Montana.
With Brady at the helm, the Patriots are confident that they will emerge victorious. Not to take anything away from Peyton in this regard, but Brady is simply a winner in the truest sense. He's calm and collected in the most tense of situations—and he led his team to a couple of championship victories before having any real star power by his side.
Peyton means the world to the Colts, but Brady means more than the world to the Pats.
Winner: Tom Brady
The best pure passer, or the best overall player?
This situation is pretty comparable to the Joe Montana vs. Dan Marino debate (you can guess which is which I'm sure). You've got one guy who has put up outstanding numbers throughout his career, and has demonstrated a knowledge for the game of football that is simply unparalled by any other field general of his generation. The other guy approaches the game with patience and optimism, and as a natural born leader can be depended on to get it done when it counts the most.
In the end, I'm going to have to solicit the old adage—numbers don't tell the whole story.
Peyton Manning is the more talented QB, and the more impressive overall field general. But ultimately, Brady's will to win and leadership qualities give him the slight nod as the better of the two.
The bottom line, however, is that as fans of the wonderful game of football, we should thank our lucky stars that we have had the privelege of watching these two amazing young men play their hearts out every Sunday.
And the best part?
The debate is far from over.
Peyton Manning is 31; Tom Brady is 30. The Colts and Pats will most likely go head to head in the AFC championship again this year.
There is plenty of time for either Tom or Peyton (or most likely, both) to cement their legacy as the greatest of their day once and for all.
There is plenty of football left to be played.