In golf, everyone wants to find the equal to Tiger Woods. Our newest candidate: Padraig Harrington. As a society, we always want to have those natural rivalries between two greats going head-to-head.
However, if we had an equal for Tiger, how much would we really enjoy it?
In the NFL, we have two Tiger Woods. We have the natural rivalry of two equals who are above and beyond the rest.
Both can put up eye popping numbers with great players around them, but more importantly, both win. That’s all they do is win. Cris Carter caught Touchdowns. Manning and Brady win.
This year will be Brady’s 8th year as the Patriots starter. In his first 7 years, he has 6 playoff appearances, 5 AFC Championship appearances, and one MVP.
Manning will be entering into his 11th season starting for the Colts. In Peyton’s first 10 years, he’s has 8 playoff appearances, 2 AFC Championship appearances, and two MVPs.
Most people forget that both players started on pretty poor teams. The Colts had a brief two year stint in which the went to the playoffs twice in 95 and 96 but then had a 3-13 year and decided to rebuild. That’s when Manning stepped in. Number one overall pick, he led his team to a 13 win season in just his second year.
After Pete Carroll left New England, the Pats were in a rebuilding mode. They hired Belichick and had a 5 win season. The next year, Super Bowl, and since then the Patriots have been at least tied for first place in the division every single year.
The success of the two teams has made for some very memorable games. McGinnest stops Edgerrin James on the one in 2003. Manning out-dueling Brady in the 2007 AFC Championship Game and the 03 AFC Championship game where Ty Law intercepted Manning 3 times.
Now, as a football community, a lot of people really take it for granted that we have this great rivalry. I do understand that this isn’t a natural rivalry like the Bears and Packers but it’s better than that because every year it’s two great, great teams. And for the most part, the games have been very good and very closely played. As a Patriots fan, this is the game I look forward to every year. I have an extreme dislike for the Colts but if the Pats were to blow them out in a game, I would be disappointed. I want it to be a good game because to me, it’s almost like a super bowl.
This year, the NFL did the smart thing and put this game on Sunday night in week 9. Now, I’d prefer to have this game closer to week 12 or 13 but 9 is good. Both teams will probably enter the game with at least 5-2 records. And putting it on primetime was great as well.
However, I worry that too many people will just view this as just another game, like it wouldn’t matter if this was San Fran vs Philadelphia or Colts vs Pats. And that is where the problem is. 30 years from now, people are going to remember the Manning and Brady era. They’re going to show highlights of their games and everyone will say “Yeah! I saw that game” as if it was some sort of an accomplishment.
However, too many of those people will just watch the game with only half interest. In the moment, people don’t realize how great it is. We don’t realize how great Nadal vs Federer really is until it’s gone. The same can be said for the Colts vs Pats.
And with both QB’s in the early 30’s, it may soon be gone sooner than we think.