April 22, 2024

The Brady-Manning debate is over

For years, the Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning debate was relevant. After clinching his seventh career Super Bowl appearance, Brady has put an end to the debate.

New England Patriots at Washington Redskins 08/28/09 // Keith Allison, Creative Commons: https://www.flickr.com/photos/keithallison/

Tom Brady’s tour de force performance against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship game resulted in more than historic numbers. Sure, Brady’s 384-yard, three-touchdown aerial assault on the helpless Steeler secondary catapulted New England to its ninth Super Bowl (the most in NFL history), in which Brady will have started in seven of them (extending his own record), but Sunday was also a coronation. The final nail in a coffin that’s been open way too long by his detractors.

Brady’s season-long crusade against a commissioner who recklessly framed and suspended him has officially placed the “Manning is better than Brady” argument into the alternate facts category. When you watch Brady, you aren’t watching another great quarterback, you’re watching the quintessential quarterback in NFL history. A quarterback who has managed to put up stats like Manning and win like Joe Montana. A quarterback whose balanced two marriages perfectly, one with a supermodel wife, and one with a man who purposefully mispronounces social media platforms because it makes him giggle on the inside. A quarterback who has single-handedly made the Caucasian catcher relevant once again.

Of course, saying Brady proved he’s the greatest quarterback of all time on Sunday is actually inaccurate. In reality, he solidified that status after winning the 2015 Super Bowl over the Seattle Seahawks, where he painted yet another masterpiece on the game’s biggest stage.

However, Manning Stans still cling onto clichés, hyper-flawed arguments (which I will soon dissect like Brady dissecting a defense on game-winning Super Bowl drive) and claim he is the greatest.

If you still believe Manning is a greater quarterback than Brady, you simply don’t believe in the concept of reality. Reality is the world or the state of things as they actually exist, as opposed to an idealistic notional idea of them. Manning supporters prefer a fantasy world where throwing inopportune interceptions in big games somehow gets glossed over.

So, to those on Manning’s side in the Brady-Manning debate, prepare to be obliterated. Here’s what’s going to transpire as I send your pro-Manning narrative into the abyss.

  1. You’ll observe the predictable pro-Manning rhetoric and think in your mind how flawless those arguments are.
  2. You’ll read my methodical destruction of each argument, which will then trigger you into a state of panic. How could America’s pizza delivery sweetheart be so surgically picked to pieces?
  3. Once the fallout of the nuclear strike that are my arguments resides, you’ll see my pro-Brady arguments, causing you to shake your head continuously. You’re not ready to relinquish your narrative just yet.
  4. The more you read of my pro-Brady arguments, the less your head shakes. Soon, tears will stream down your cheeks due to the exposure of my arguments, which are 100 percent accurate and irrefutable.
  5. You are convinced that Brady is superior to Manning and proceed to enter mid-life crisis mode because your life has been a lie to this point.

Hide your kids, hide your wife, grab some popcorn, open up an Amazon tab and prepare to order a Brady jersey as you enter reality.

Trash Argument No. 1

“Brady was carried by defenses, while Manning played with bad defenses.”

There’s no denying Brady has often played with the better defense, but the key issue with this argument is diction. Notice how it’s often presented as “Brady was carried by defenses” as opposed to “Brady was assisted by defenses.”

I’m no dictionary, but I’ve spoken English ever since I’ve been able to speak English, and I know the difference between “carried” and “assisted.”

It’s incredibly disingenuous to claim Brady has ever been carried by a defense at any point in his career, though a case can be made that the 2001 Patriots won primarily because of their defensive prowess. In three playoff games that season, Brady averaged only 191 passing yards per game with one touchdown to one interception. However, one of those games was the infamous “Tuck Rule Game” that featured constant snow fall. Plus, it was only Brady’s first season as a starter, and even that didn’t stop him from orchestrating a game-winning drive in the Super Bowl.

There are examples of defense essentially carrying an inept offense to Super Bowl glory, with the 2000 Baltimore Ravens being the most notable. Another example is the 2015 Denver Broncos. The quarterback on that team? Peyton Manning.

Yes, Manning has actually been carried by a defense, unlike Brady.

Manning was a shell of himself in 2015 due to an assortment of injuries, but don’t let that distract you from the fact that he was terrible. Because he was. In the playoffs, his job was simply to not screw up. And he did a great job of that, but I want my greatest quarterbacks of all time to make the throws and be the championship catalyst. Had Brady performed like Manning had in Super Bowl 50, Manning Stans would bring it up for the rest of existence. Even as they pass along, they’ll leave reminders on their grandkids’ cell phones to make sure the legacy of Brady-bashing lives on.

But wait, there’s more! Manning’s final season in the league wasn’t just a form of poetic justice where the broken-down warrior who had carried putrid defenses to 12-win seasons was finally gifted an elite defense in return.

The 2005 Indianapolis Colts allowed the second-fewest points in the NFL. The 2007 Colts allowed the league’s fewest points. During Indianapolis’ 2006 Super Bowl run, it was the defense that ignited the spark. They shut down Larry Johnson in the Wild Card round, holding the 1,784-yard rusher to 31 yards on 13 carries. They held the Baltimore Ravens to a pair of field goals in the divisional round, while the offense only mustered five field goals. In four postseason games, Manning threw three touchdowns to seven interceptions. Yikes.

What about the 2012 Denver Broncos? They allowed the second-fewest points. What about the 2014 Denver Broncos? They allowed the third-fewest yards.

So let’s dispel this notion that Manning hasn’t played with great defenses. He has, and more times than not, he squandered them with poor postseason play.

Trash Argument No. 2

“Brady has had the same head coach his entire career, while Manning has had five.”

Consistency matters. A team that has the same head coach for an extended period of time is more than likely going to be successful – unless your team is located in Cincinnati and Marvin Lewis is your head coach. Or Jeff Fisher.

Brady shouldn’t be punished for not getting his coach fired. With Manning, Jim Mora Jr. was fired, Tony Dungy retired, Jim Caldwell was fired (after the season Manning missed due to neck surgery), John Fox was fired and Gary Kubiak was his last head coach. He’s had a slew of coaches ranging from good to great, although none can hold a candle to Bill Belichick.

However, Belichick’s success story as a head coach didn’t begin until Week 4 of the 2001 season, when Brady made his first career start. Up until that point, Belichick’s career coaching record was a mere 41-47. Since, it’s 197-68.

Coincidence? I think not.

Trash Argument No. 3

“Brady is a system quarterback.”

This argument is so bad I would rather share a jail cell with Aaron Hernandez than hear it again. People, every quarterback plays in a system and is a product of said system. Bad systems will result in failure. Good systems, if the quarterback is good, result in success. Brady plays in a system. Manning played in a system, and even admitted that part of his problem during the 2015 season was not only a broken-down body, but having to adjust to Kubiak’s offensive philosophy.

We saw the impact a poor system can have on a quarterback this season when Aaron Rodgers struggled out of the gate. Once the play-calling duty was under Mike McCarthy’s watch again, the system changed, and Rodgers’ play ascended to the stratosphere.

Manning Stans, stop pretending Manning trotted on the field, winged it and got into the Hall of Fame. Only Brett Favre accomplished that.

Trash Argument No. 4

“Manning has all the passing records.”

By this logic, you must’ve thought Brett Favre was the greatest quarterback of all time before Manning broke the records, right? You probably didn’t. Getting records doesn’t make you the best passer. Jabbar is the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, but is he the greatest scorer in NBA history? No. He simply played longer and surpassed everybody.

Trash Argument No. 5

“Brady wouldn’t have any rings without Adam Vinatieri or Malcolm Butler.”

Most Manning Stans will often refute Brady’s four championships with this gem. Yet, they’ll also throw in the classic “teams win championships” argument, but criticize Brady because his teammates made plays in championship games.

It doesn’t matter how many rings Brady has. It’s all about performance. In six Super Bowls, Brady has 13 touchdowns to four interceptions. In four Super Bowl appearances, Manning has three touchdowns to five interceptions, with two returned for touchdowns, including this back-breaker against New Orleans.

The Patriots owe a great deal of gratitude to Vinatieri for his clutch kicking, but Brady shouldn’t be penalized for delivering two ice-in-his-veins drives into field goal range. He shouldn’t be penalized for Butler’s heroics, especially considering he set the Super Bowl single-game record for completions (37) in that game while throwing for 328 yards and four touchdowns against the Legion of Boom.

This brings me to my larger point. There’s been talk in recent weeks that Aaron Rodgers might be the Michael Jordan of the NFL. While Rodgers can deliver a 40-yard dime while rolling to his left and throwing across his body when I can barely tie my shoe, Brady is clearly the real MJ of the NFL.

He has a staggering three game-winning drives in the Super Bowl, an absurd number. In all reality, he should have four, but because Eli Manning turns into a unicorn when he plays in the Super Bowl and Asante Samuel dropped an easy interception that would’ve sealed a 19-0 season for New England in Super Bowl 42, Brady’s clutch touchdown pass to Moss that put the Patriots ahead 14-10 was wasted.

And similar to Jordan, it doesn’t matter what supporting cast is at his disposal. Brady won three Super Bowls with Deion Branch as his best wide receiver, had the greatest single-season performance a quarterback has ever had throwing to Moss, threw 36 touchdowns to only four interceptions with two rookie tight ends, still managed to win games when one tight end was hurt and another was sent to prison for murder and is currently purging defenses with a slew of Caucasian catchers.

Despite a revolving door of weaponry, Brady’s average stats per season aren’t too far off from Manning’s averages.

Average stats per season

  • Brady: 350-548 (63.8 percent), 4,105 yards  30 TD, 10 INT
  • Manning: 360-552 (65.3 percent), 4,232 yards, 32 TD, 15 INT

Brady also holds his fair share of records, including the highest TD-INT differential in league history (+304) as well as essentially every playoff passing record, including completions (788), yards (8,628) and touchdown passes (61). Brady also has more Super Bowl appearances by himself (7) than 27 NFL franchises, in addition to more playoff victories (24) than 25 franchises.

Face it, Manning Stans, your time here is over. You no longer have to waste precious brain cells running uphill as the distance between Brady and Manning grows larger and larger.

When you go to bed tonight, take one last gander at your Manning poster. Go up to that mysterious red spot on his forehead that makes me think Manning’s head is actually Jupiter, give it a kiss, tear the poster down, put your Brady poster up with six thumbtacks in honor of Lord Brady’s ring count (soon-to-be five Super Bowl rings, plus the one with Gisele) and bow in the presence of greatness.

Edited by Quinn Pilkey

Featured image by Keith Allison, courtesy of CreativeCommons.org

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Follow me @DavidJBradford1 on Twitter, email me at dbradfo2@vols.utk.edu for any questions.