The people have spoken.
No surprise that the vast majority of readers disagree with my assertion that Peyton Manning is the best quarterback I have ever seen. But some of the e-mails and comments regarding my column from Monday went a bit far, I think. Let's just say that I took some hits.
I dress like a woman.
I'm an ignorant ass.
I should be beaten with the very keyboard that I use to write these columns.
I should leave the sports writing to those who have a clue and stick to poetry.
And worst of all?
I might actually fit in with Skip Bayless and Woody Paige.
As I shudder in fear, dig in and enjoy what is really a one-subject mailbag this week. I understand that I mentioned last week that we would be going with the 'bag every two weeks until the Red Sox start the regular season, but there was a pretty good response to the column so I decided to play fast with the rules. Sorry.
So to the 'bag we go (and, as always, feel free to e-mail away to email@example.com) …
Everyone will be on the Manning wagon until Tom Brady goes to another Super Bowl, then everyone one will say Brady is the best, and this back and forth will go on until one of them retires. Oh, btw, if no one cares to bring it up, but the Colts always had a better offensive system than the Pats (until 2007). Manning played his career with elite HoF players like Marvin Harrison, Dallas Clark and now Reggie Wayne. Pre-2006, who did the Patriots have? Troy Brown and Deion Branch as their main guys? If Brady had such offensive talent as Manning did in his career his regular-season stats would be similar to Manning's. The Pats might have a better defense until recent years, but the Colts always had a better offensive system until recent years. Thus Brady wins three rings (defense wins rings) and Manning had all the stats.
A: Probably true, if Brady has another MVP season in 2010 and wins a fourth Super Bowl then of course I would have to reconsider where each guy stands historically. I just wrote that as of today Peyton Manning is the best quarterback I have ever seen. Could that change? Of course. But the only other guy that I could see bumping him off is Brady. And it would take a couple of big years plus a drop-off in production from Manning.
Is Peyton Manning the best ever? I'm not sure. I guess he still has a few years to cement that legacy, but no matter how much I love the Pats and Brady, I've known for quite some time Peyton is a better QB. You can try to match up Peyton's 2005 season with Tom's 2007 season by pulling minute stats out of what they both did. Those were obviously magical seasons for both of them. They also don't matter to each of them since they didn't win a championship. Yeah, Brady's got the three rings to Peyton's one, but this question is larger than championships. If that was all that mattered, then we would also to say Trent Dilfer was as good a QB as Manning or Terry Bradshaw was better than Brady, and I don't think either of those are true. The knock on Peyton has always been he had such great talent around him so of course he could put up these lofty numbers. After watching what he has done with a rookie and second-year player who was returning kicks last year, I'm not so sure. He makes his players stars, not the other way around. He made Harrison a Hall of Famer and will probably do the same with Wayne. I'm not trying to say those guys wouldn't be good if they played with Donovan McNabb or David Garrard, but they wouldn't be great. Peyton made them that way. I can't think of a player Brady did that with. While Brady's SB rings will always keep him in the GOAT conversation, Peyton has a much better chance of actually being the GOAT. Brady may be the better champion but Peyton is the better QB.
A: Good points here, Ben.
The idea that the number of Super Bowls a quarterback wins should be the most important consideration of where they stand all-time has never made much sense to me. As a tiebreaker, sure. But does anyone think that Manning needs to win next Sunday to be the equal of Ben Roethlisberger? I’ll buy that the 3-1 edge for Brady has to be part of the Manning debate, especially when you realize that he outplayed Manning in two playoff games during his SB runs. But answer this: If Brady had played his entire career in, say, St. Louis and put up the exact same regular-season numbers that he has to this point but never made the playoffs, would anyone even look at him as any better than a Drew Brees? I understand that the playoffs are “where legends are made,” but there has to be weight put on the regular season. Isn’t 120 games a better sample size than four or five?
And there is something to the idea that maybe Manning hasn’t had superior offensive talent around him during his career. How do we know how good Marvin Harrison or Reggie Wayne really is? Or Dallas Clark? Seems to me that anyone who steps in and plays for the Colts produces, and the constant on that offense over the last 12 years is Manning. You think Austin Collie or Pierre Garcon does this stuff anywhere else? And same goes for Brady. Not a lot of guys have left the Colts and Pats during the last decade and done much.
I'm a Colts fan and I think both are great. I might hate the Pats, but I've got respect for Brady considering the fact that he won three SBs and went to a fourth. That's extremely impressive and I cannot deny that he is great. But I still love Peyton and consider him the greatest, even with those awful games he gave us early in his postseason career.
The 50-TD season, you also cannot forget the fact that Peyton only threw two passes in the final game that season. He got 49 TDs through 15 games, Brady only had 48 through 15. Had Peyton played the full game against the Broncos (the team he torched for a perfect passer rating just a week later in the playoffs), he obviously would have had at least one more.
Both are great. If you want to go by stats, Peyton is better. If you want to by rings, Brady is better.
A: True. Also, if you want to go by rings Brad Johnson is better than Dan Marino and Luis Sojo is WAY better than Ted Williams. I tend to go with stats. And as I wrote on Monday, Manning has finished in the top five of what I consider the “Big Three” of QB stats (passer rating, TD passes and passing yards) 22 times in the last 10 years. Brady? Eight times.
The writer is now just stating what more and more former players are saying: Manning is the best that has ever played. Trent Dilfer, Tom Jackson, Merril Hoge and more analysts are watching film all week long and seeing Manning do things that they cannot comprehend. He is now getting the notice of the experts, not the fan(atics).
A: Uh, you mean a bunch of guys from ESPN are on my side? Great. This might finally be my entry to the Socratic world of “First and Ten,” where I can debate Skip Bayless and Jalen Rose on topics that would make Tom Mees do a Triple Lindy in his grave. You know how you don’t care at all if Glen Davis changes his nickname? ESPN does, and it will have Skip and Jalen argue about it sometime this week, I’m sure.
Enjoyed your article about Manning. And from a Boston guy!
I'm in Michigan and try to be independent on the subject.
In Michigan, we have a lot of Brady fans because he played for UM. And you haven't seen the psychology of UM fans. They feel the entire world revolves around UM. No, sorry ... the entire universe.
So, I have experience in the Brady/Manning debate here. Way more love for Tom than Peyton.
It's funny, I've seen many an article where a writer lists his "greatest 10 QBs of all time." They will go on about "it's the rings" and then rate Dan Marino and Brett Favre ahead of Brady, but rate Brady above Manning because "it's the rings." Then they leave Terry Bradshaw and Troy Aikman off the list.
Just saying, the experts often don't even make consistent arguments.
For whatever it's worth, I think they are both excellent, but I won't cop out with that simple statement.
Manning is probably the most complete package, if that makes any sense. He's physically about as good as it gets, but hey, Jay Cutler probably has a bigger arm. He's got great pocket presence, but Brady's may even be better. He still has the occasional "red mist" moment where he seems to say to himself, "I'm Peyton Manning and I'm gonna throw the ball there, even though it's double coverage and a check down would make more sense at this time."
But you know what, I love watching the guy. He's one of the reasons that the NFL is so great. I will miss him once he's retired. He's an icon, and we'll likely not see another like him for a long time. Savor it while it lasts.
And don't fret. The Pats have three rings — just think how the Chargers feel.
A: Well, I know how the average Charger fans felt, Art. They were upset for about three hours after the Jets game. Then they went into Del Mar and tried out a “Totally new Mediterranean place. Had a great clay oven and the shawarmas were jumping. The two of us polished off a nice bottle of Riesling. By the time we were done I had forgotten about the game. Perspective, man. Gotta watch that sun rise.” Nobody plays the perspective card after a brutal loss like a Chargers fan. Anyone who has ever lived in San Diego is nodding right now.
And why do rings only matter at quarterback? Is Ben Watson better than Ben Coates? Anyone ever see Willie Parker ranked over Barry Sanders on any all-time lists? Why is it just quarterbacks (and coaches)?
Why don't we all wait until their careers are over? From 2003-2005 everyone was on the Brady bandwagon. In 2006, it was back to Manning. 2007 was Brady again. Then he got hurt, and everyone jumps back on Manning. They both should have at least five more seasons, a lot can happen in that time. Either way, it's really close at this point and both are top five all time. Right now it looks like Manning will finish better than Brady, but what if Brady proves that 2009 was a down year because of his injury? All I'm saying is a lot can happen. ... Everyone writes articles based off of the last game they saw.
A: It is close, Carter, and I’m not closing the book. But right now Manning leads by a couple of lengths. And if I wrote this column based off the last game I saw by each guy, Manning would still be the best I’ve ever seen and Brady would be somewhere between Vince Evans and Scott Secules.
In my humble opinion, Joe Montana at this very moment is still the best ever. With that being said, Manning has played half of his games INDOORS. You must factor this in when you compare Manning to Brady. Plus, people in general have very short memories. ... Heck, 2007 seems like a long time ago already. Tom Brady is better, end of story, and if the Pats come back next year and win it all, people will be jumping on the "Tom Brady is the best ever" bandwagon. Remember, in sports as it is with a lot of things, it comes down to: What have you done for me lately?
A: No problem with Montana as the best ever, Dan. As good a choice as any, I think. I have him third, right behind Manning and Brady. But as I wrote on Monday, it bothers me a little that the very next guy was able to step in and play just as well in the same system. And Montana had the very best football player I’ve ever seen on his team in Jerry Rice, and Rice continued to produce long after Montana retired. But, yeah, if this was a “Which QB would you pick to run a two-minute drill in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl” debate I would pick Montana. Plus, he was in the single best "SNL" sketch of any pro athlete, which I guess you’ll have to Google if you don’t know what I’m talking about.
Where Manning has played his whole career: INDOORS!! I would have loved to see him play in Green Bay, or New England for that matter, in the wind, cold, rain, snow, etc., etc., to observe the effect on him and his receivers. Compared to Brady, he's been playing in his living room. He's good, no question, But Tommy has been the best for the past decade, and more time will tell the rest.
A: Career road numbers for Tom Brady and Peyton Manning:
Manning: 64.3 percent completions, 173 TDs, 101 INTs, 91.6 passer rating
Brady: 63.7 percent completions, 119 TDs, 65 INTs, 92.5 passer rating
About a push, no? And remember, Manning has played two more years. If you want to believe that Brady has entered the decline phase of his career, that passer rating only will go down (his road passer rating in 2009 was 81.7).
I'm still on Team Brady right now, but another Super Bowl by Manning will make it tough.
I don't think the Colts could ever win 11 games if Manning got hurt in the first quarter of the opening game like the Pats did last year. And if they did, I wonder if Manning would actually win fewer games the next year.
A: That factors in also, Todd. Could the Colts win 11 games next year with Curtis Painter or Jim Sorgi playing all season? Doubtful, I suspect. But I think Manning could go to any team in the NFL and that that team would win at least 10 games. He’s that good. It’s like putting LeBron James on the Nets. They’d win 40-45 games with him this year, I’m convinced of it.
(But let’s be fair. Brady had a better season in 2009 than Matt Cassel did in 2008. Higher completion percentage, more yards and TDs, better passing rating. Pretty sure the Chiefs would trade Cassel for Brady.)
I'm short of time here, but let's not forget the season Brady had after having to come back from reconstructive knee surgery and injuries to his shoulder, rib and finger. His first game back he leads the Patriots on an incredible comeback against one of the better pass defenses this season? Incredible.
I don't think there's any question who's been better in the REGULAR season, but Brady still trumps Manning in the postseason. He never had to "develop" or "grow" into a good QB in the postseason, he always has been. He's been consistent from start No. 1, and given his little playing experience in college, that's amazing. He's had to deal with more coaching staff changes, he's had to deal with the weather.
And the most important and telling statistic to me: Brady has the best TD to INT ratio in the entire history of the NFL. Manning is great, but Brady will always be better. And had the defense held up their end up the bargain, he would have a perfect season on his resume and three Super Bowl MVPs and four Super Bowl rings. The fact he never threw a pick in the game against the Giants is amazing. I doubt Manning would have been able to avoid throwing a pick had he faced constant pressure like that.
NY Pats Fan
A: I still think A) Ty Law deserved the MVP in the Super Bowl win over the Rams and B) Welker had a real shot of winning Super Bowl MVP if they beat the Giants two years ago. Again, for me more weight goes to the regular season MVP. Manning winning four MVPs for 64 games of work is a better indication of where he stands all time than Brady winning two Super Bowl MVPs (and yes, I know he also won a league MVP as well).
And Brady played plenty at Michigan. He threw 711 passes. OK, Manning played more at Tennessee, but is that somehow a factor today?
One other thought: Manning had to face Belichick and that great defense in 2003 and 2004. Brady never faced a coach (or defense) anywhere close to that level while he was winning Super Bowls.
Eli Manning would be the Don Swayze or Jim Hanks if not for David Tyree's catch, huh? Get off the haterade and crystal meth, dude. Eli Manning is one of the better quarterbacks in this league. Before this season, he had made the playoffs four straight years, and four out of the five years he had been in the league. He had a spectacular season this year, probably his best, with a group of young, unknown receivers that went under the radar big time because of the terrible, terrible defense he had. You need to put down the hate juice, brotha.
P.S. Peyton is better than Brady.
A: I will agree to get off the crystal meth, Matt, but I will never give up the haterade. Never.
Eli did have his best season in 2009, but calling it “spectacular” is giving it the hard sell, I think. He was 11th in passer rating and 10th in TD passes. A good, solid year. He’s in that lower half of that second tier of QBs, below the Peyton/Brees/Brady group. I’d rather have Roethlisberger, Aaron Rodgers and Philip Rivers. After that, you could sell me Eli over anyone else, I suppose.
And can we not turn this into a Don Swayze bash-fest? Hasn’t the guy been through enough in the past year? Plus this: I defy anyone to find a year of acting to match Don Swayze’s 1994. A three-episode guest stint as Edge Parker in “Murder, She Wrote” (where, if I recall correctly, his character had a torrid affair with Tom Bosley’s character) AND a co-starring role opposite Chad McQueen in “Sexual Malice.” Now, that, I would agree, is spectacular.
(Man, did it hurt taking the Simple Jack nickname away from Eli on Sunday, but I think it fits Favre better at this point. But it took me a good half-hour before I could actually write it down. I need a new nickname for Eli. Taking any and all suggestions.)
I've been saying the following for over a year: Manning is the most "accurate" passer I've ever seen. Not ready to anoint him as the best ever. However, his ability to place the ball on the correct side of the shoulder and lead receivers for the yards after the catch is simply sick. I watch his robotic approach in awe. Just look at how frustrating Brady was to watch this year. This was not injury or route-related misses. He simply missed many throws. As I get older, I appreciate mastery. Manning is a master, but Brady is my guy.
A: If you are a Patriots fan I would expect Brady to be your guy. It would be like taking Magic over Bird or Mike Hartman over Bruce Shoebottom.
I agree that Manning just seems to be a zone right now. He has been since the 2006 AFC title game. The Jets were easily the best defense in the league vs. the pass this year (opposing QBs threw just eight TD passes vs. the Jets during the regular season with 17 INTs) and Manning just shredded them last week. And as Ron Borges pointed out in the Boston Herald on Wednesday, he did so calling most of the plays in the second half.
Manning has benefited with games played in a weather- and wind-controlled dome vs. outside in New England weather. Manning has also had the benefit of a more talented receiving corps for most of his career than Brady. Manning may be the better pure passer, but so was Marino, and how many Super Bowl rings did he have? Joe Namath will always be known for winning a Super Bowl, not because he was a great quarterback. Manning may be a better pure passer than Brady, but it is close. Brady passed for more than 4,000 yards coming back from a major injury and then playing hurt for most of the season while playing most of his games outdoors. In the history of the game Brady will be considered better than Manning if he ends up with more rings. Think Montana.
A: I’d agree that the weather has hurt Brady except for one tiny little detail — Brady has better career numbers at home (106-34 TD/INT ratio, 94.2 passer rating) vs. road games (119-65, 92.5).
And I can’t find Brady’s career numbers in snow games, but his record in games played with a temperature of 32 degrees or colder at kickoff is 16-2. And I’m pretty sure the snow didn’t hurt him vs. Tennessee this season, or in the Snow Bowl win over the Raiders. Seems that he has been helped by playing in cold weather, if anything.
(Pause for shock as I throw in a parenthetical note. To be fair, how many games a year does Brady play in lousy weather? Two, maybe three at most? We’re not talking about 14 games a year. Maybe a game more than Manning each season.)
Oh, please. Everyone's just really emotional right now with the Patriots getting beaten up by the Ravens and the Colts winning Sunday. Right now, its easy to say/think that Manning is the better quarterback because people have extremely short-term memories.
I still think Tom Brady is a better quarterback than Manning. For one, he still has more rings than Manning. Even if Manning wins in two weeks, Brady will have one more ring. And don't forget, Brady would have four rings (and 19-0) if it weren't for the glue helmet.
Also, Brady still has a MUCH better playoff record Manning. Not to mention that Brady won three Super Bowls before Manning won his first. Brady was also (up until Sunday) the one to have been to a Super Bowl more recently.
Brady has won more games over the last decade than Manning (if you include the most important ones — postseason — unlike Bill Polian).
And please don't give me the "system" B.S. Drew Bledsoe was in the exact same system, how come everything changed all of a sudden after No. 12 came in? When you have QBs like Brady and Manning, the system automatically forms around them.
A: Here’s a question: The Tom Brady of 2001 was a pretty good quarterback that kind of stayed out the way and let the defense carry the team to the Super Bowl, right? The anti-Bledsoe (not to be confused with the popular punk band of the same name). Don’t make the big mistake kind of guy. Should we really count that season as a huge positive if we are trying to put him next to a Manning? I mean, 2,843 yards passing with an 18-12 TD-INT comparison is an average season. But because the Patriots won the Super Bowl it immediately goes into the “great season” category. And in that postseason he threw one touchdown pass in 97 attempts. You’re telling me that you don’t think Peyton Manning could have done that? I’m frankly more impressed with Brady’s forgotten 2002 season. Sure, the Patriots missed the playoffs, but Brady led the league in TD passes and proved that he could thrive in a pass-first system. To me, the idea that he could become a great quarterback was during that season.
I see you have discovered there are more people who dislike the Patriots than like the Patriots. But you are nothing but a member of the "one game fans." Taking the careers into account, they are too close to decide, except that Brady has three Super Bowls to Manning's one. Hmmm, taking one game as an excuse to belittle the accomplishments of the Patriots for the past 14 years, sounds like a whiny, bitter New Yorker or Chargers fan to me. Do you wear a pink shirt and cheerleader skirt and squeal when something happens against the Patriots the way they do?
A: The only times I have ever worn a cheerleader skirt was when I did some amateur night dancing at the Golden Banana. I was in college and the prize money seemed right. I apologize for nothing. And I still maintain that I would have won a few had I not chosen Johnny Cash’s version of “Hurt” as my song when I hit the floor.
It's so wrong to make fun of Cooper Manning in this article. The kid was an all-state WR headed to Ole Miss when he was diagnosed with a spinal condition and had to end his career. You make it sound like he is a deadbeat kid with no athletic talent who his father is ashamed of. Do some research before making fun of people. And to joke that Archie doesn't love Cooper as much as Peyton and Eli — he probably loves him more since he had to give up his dreams of an NFL career while his brothers got to pursue theirs.
A: Look, you may be right about this. But I Googled “Archie Manning loves the one son that hasn’t won a Super Bowl MVP more than the other two that have” and came up with nothing. So I think we can both admit that we are wrong and move on, Scott.
Minihane speaks the truth ... once AGAIN. He is way better than Bill Simmons, who overdramatizes with smug self-confidence. How can one stop Manning ever again? It's not possible ever since Bill Polian instigated the rule change in 2004 that helped his QB the very most (not that Manning wouldn't be awesome without those rule changes).
A: As a mailbag writer I think I rank exactly between Bill and Lionel Simmons, Sid.
Let me start off this post by saying I believe that Joe Montana is the bes QB ever. Brady and Manning both have several years left to play and either one of them may end up being the best ever, but they are not as good as Montana. As for Brady vs. Manning: Right now I give the nod to Brady. And yes, I am a Pats homer. The most telling argument I can make is a response to the people who claim that the 3-1 championship lead Brady has over Manning is irrelevant. Is it possible that the Colts and Manning would have more championships if Manning were not so inconsistent in the playoffs? He puts up a game rating of 158.3 in a win against the Broncos one week, then gets knocked out of the playoffs with a 39 rating the next week against them in the playoffs. Manning has three playoff games with a game rating of under 40, Brady has none. Manning has had three playoff games where he was unable to lead his team to an offensive TD, Brady has none. If you look at Manning's five worst individual games in his career, three of them were playoff games, Brady has none. Manning’s TD:INT ratio the year he won the SB was 3:7. Brady’s TD:INT ratio for the playoff games that they won the SB is 11:3.
A: Career postseason passer rating: Manning 87.5, Brady 85.5; Career postseason passing yards per game: Manning 284.2, Brady 228.2.
Manning has averaged just three attempts more per game in the playoffs but has thrown for nearly 60 more yards per game. See how easy it is to just cherry-pick numbers to prove a point sometimes?
Now, do I think that Manning has been Brady’s equal in the postseason? Nope. But it’s closer than you think. And it’s only been 18 games for Brady and 17 for Manning, so the sample size is still relatively small (really just one regular season). What’s clutch and what isn’t? Does any playoff game qualify? How big is a wild card game? Manning has a passer rating of 101.2 in six wild card games, Brady’s is 84.1. Is the pressure any more or less than the next round of games? Who knows? That’s why I consider the regular season to be the most important factor. And Manning simply has better numbers.
Take a look at this breakdown of the two guys during what I would consider to be Brady’s prime years (2001-07).
In five out of those seven seasons, Manning had the higher completion percentage.
In five of the seven seasons, Manning passed for more yards.
In five of the seven seasons, Manning threw more touchdowns.
In four out of the seven seasons, Manning threw fewer interceptions.
In five out of the seven seasons, Manning fumbled less (once they were tied).
In five out of the seven seasons, Manning had the higher quarterback rating.
(Thanks to BleacherReport.com for the numbers.)
And since then, Brady has missed a year and had a pretty good 2009. Manning has won a pair of MVPs and led a team to (at least) the AFC title. Tough to make a case for Brady at this point.
Admit it, you kind of like the Peyton Manning/Justin Timberlake commercial. It’s not horrible. Get it? He’s blowing on his fingers because he was HOT! Get it? That’s comedy, baby!
A: If any NFL pregame show is a 10 on the “Outrageously Fake Laughter” scale, where would you rank the director of that commercial when Timberlake pulled that bit out? A solid 8 at least, right?
Good call on Luke Wilson. He’s put on a good 50 pounds since "Old School." Who can blame him — I’m sure he still gets top-shelf women and plays golf all day. I’m skinny, which is good, I guess, but I drive three hours round-trip to a sh---y job and live alone. So he wins. Yay, movie star.
A: Now I know who watches the Pro Bowl.