The Tom Brady-Peyton Manning Debate: Fuel to the Fire

Luis AlbertoCorrespondent IMarch 16, 2008

Brady vs Manning.  The debate rages on.  Last year, after the Super Bowl, there was article after article about why Peyton was better.  Now, 50 touchdowns and an undefeated regular season later, everyone is on the "Brady is better" bandwagon. 

Me.  Not sure.  To me this is like deciding between Elisha Cuthbert and Angelina Jolie. I'm not qualified to make the argument on either side.

The thing that I find interesting is how, when making the argument for one or the other, we see what we want to see.  We back into our arguments.  

So, this article is going to sound somewhat anti-Brady.  I'm not anti-Brady.  I think he's one of the best quarterbacks ever.  I just think there are some major disconnects in some of the arguments that are made in his favor.  Keep in mind that I live in Massachusetts and have heard all of the arguments as to why Brady is better.  Some are accurate and some aren't.  Even some of the ones that are accurate are somewhat inconsistent.


Argument in Brady's favor:  Tom Brady is considered as clutch as they come. 

Facts:  Tom Brady is famous for the 4th quarter drive to win the big game.  However, in the last two playoff games that the Patriots lost, Tom Brady has had the ball in his hands with time expiring and a chance to win the game.  The results were an interception against the Colts and a turnover on downs against the Giants.  Go back one more year and you have a big interception in the red zone in a playoff game returned for a TD by Champ Bailey.  

And yet, to this day, we consider Brady clutch. Why?  Because once he came through a few times, we stopped paying attention to the times where he didn't.

Now the "choker."  Peyton Manning got the reputation that he couldn't win the big game.  First with his games against Florida and then with the Colts. But, again, our eyes see what we want them to see. 

After the Colts bowed out against the Chargers this year,  the talk around Boston (where I live) were the two interceptions thrown by "Sey"-ton.  Not the 400+ yards or 3 touchdowns in what amounted to a heroic performance.  Or the fact that both interceptions went through or off the hands of the intended receiver. 

Our eyes see what we want them to see.  We wait for Peyton to choke and Brady to come through in the clutch. 

Brady came back the next week and threw three interceptions against those same Chargers.  General synopsis: the interceptions don't tell the story since the Pats won the game.  


Argument:  The loss against the Giants wasn't Tom Brady's fault.  His line didn't give him any time.

Facts:  Two years ago, the Colts lost a playoff game to the Steelers.  The Colts were unable to give Manning any time and he was, essentially ineffective.  However, some people who saw both games say Peyton choked.  Something doesn't make sense there.  We see what we want to see.  Neither quarterback was responsible for their team's loss.


Argument:   Now that Brady has thrown 50 TDs in a season, he has surpassed Peyton.

Facts:  The reaction when Peyton broke the record was that numbers don't matter.  Now, all of a sudden, they do.  Interesting.  The fact is that Tom Brady broke his personal record by 22 TDs and had never previously thrown more than 30 TDs.  If numbers continue to be the argument, Brady doesn't win.....yet.


Argument:  Brady has now proven what he would have done if he had great receivers his entire career - like Peyton has.

Facts:  This one may be true.  But, there is one thing to keep in mind.  Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne are great receivers.  The question becomes - would they have been great receivers if they didn't have Peyton.  It's a very valid question - and it may be unfair to the two receivers.  Yes, they were both first round picks.  But, go look at recent drafts.  Many, many, many receivers are taken in the first round.  And, it seems, most don't pan out.  It's a matter of the chicken and the egg.  Would Reggie Wayne have been Troy Williamson if he didn't have Peyton?

You could actually, if you wanted to, turn this argument around and ask why Brady wasn't able to turn someone like Bethel Johnson into a better player.  Of course, that argument goes out the window when you see what Welker did this year (but was that because of Brady or Moss).

The final point on this argument is that Randy Moss has been exceptional at getting his quarterbacks to have career years.  Randall Cunningham, Jeff George and Daunte Culpepper all SHATTERED career highs when playing with Moss.  Again, did Brady's skill lead to Moss' success or did Moss' skill lead to Brady's?  Probably a little of both, but worth thinking about.  Moss has had success without Brady.  Harrison and Wayne have not had success without Manning - they've never played with anyone else. 


I'll say it again.  We see what we want to see.  When Manning threw 2 interceptions against the Chargers in the playoffs this year the word around New England was that he choked.  Never mind that he threw for 400 yards and 3 touchdowns.  The next week, Brady threw 3 interceptions against the same Chargers.  The argument there was that the interceptions were the receivers' faults.  Here's on of Peyton's interceptions from that game - .  The other went through Reggie Wayne's hands.

I know this article won't be popular with Patriots fans.  But, when judging the better of these two players, I think it's important to be objective.  There's a very good chance you'll still end up at the same conclusion.

One more thing.   I don't understand why we have to criticize one of these players at the expense of the other.  The're both future hall of famers that will be considered among the top 5 in history.


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