Peyton Manning ranks 2nd all-time in postseason completions, attempts and pass yards... behind Brady.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 17, 2014
OK, enough praise for these two.
Brady vs. Manning?
Try Peyton vs. Satan.
Or Brady vs. Hades.
Manning, you [expletive] suck.
Brady, you really [expletive] suck.
Bring the antipathy, America.
That's more like it.
When the commentariat on Fox News is offering their opinions on which QB will win and Eonline.com is offering a breakdown of "Tom Brady and Peyton Manning's Rivalry, as Explained by The Hills' Lauren Conrad and Heidi Montag," you know it's time to play football. Mercifully, the AFC Championship Game kicks off at 3 p.m. Sunday at Denver's at-least-a-Mile High Stadium. You pack the weed, we'll supply the Taco Bell.
The internet disclaimer requires us to acknowledge that Brady and Manning are not really playing against each other, since they play the same position. Manning's literal rivals on Sunday will be Aqib Talib, Jamie Collins and whatever pass rush the Patriots can generate. Brady's biggest opponent Sunday will whoever is left at corner for the Broncos and the potential for turnovers.
Now, back to the fun stuff. Both QBs this week have been targeted by billions of bytes of text, videos, images and social media posts.
Tom Brady trolls Peyton Manning! pic.twitter.com/T6ZpEXcInG— NFL Memes (@NFL_Memes) January 17, 2014
Both quarterbacks are all-world. They have produced the NFL's most substantial and attractive QB marquee rivalry since "Montana vs. Elway." Each is a champion and has a place in Canton waiting.
The fundamental difference in perception between Brady and Manning is simple.
Brady is hated by his detractors:
While Manning is usually just mocked and ridiculed by his:
There's been lots of discussion this week about "legacy," "history," "reputation" and "legal marijuana."
The talk of "legacy" is self-defeating. Brady and Manning have "faced off against each other" 14 times. Brady has won 10 of those games. Nothing that happens Sunday will change that. Brady has won three times as many Super Bowl rings as Manning. That won't change this week, either.
Trying to debate history, in this case before it happens, is foolish because the long-term record between the two is so incredibly lop-sided. The best-case for Peyton this season is that his "reputation" as a playoff choke-artist ends with a victory in New Jersey. That would give Brady just a 50-percent advantage [3-2] in Super Bowl rings.
Since this is 2014, "history" means something that happened 15 Tweets ago. The past has become irrelevant when talking about the history between Manning and Brady, except when people want to change it.
Much of the football world has bent over backward in the past week to craft ways to explain how Brady has owned Manning [Peyton, not Eli, of course] in the past 13 years.
It's Bill Belichick.
It's the Patriots' defense back in the day.
It's the Boston bias in the media.
Then, of course, there's always Spygate.
My favorite hypothetical refrain was: "What would happen if Brady and Manning had switched places?"
Gisele would file for divorce in about two seconds.
"If Peyton Manning had Belichick as a coach, he would have won two or three more Super Bowls."
Does this mean he gets Eli's rings?
"Belchick made Brady what he is today. He can coach anyone."
See Bill Belichick, Coach Cleveland Browns 1991-95.
It goes on and on.
The worst - and most misleading - part of this debate is the image thrust upon each QB. Nothing stirs the emotions like a little class envy and the Manning disciplines crank it out like cheap Papa John's pizzas.
Brady is the "glitzy glamour boy" who's been whipped by his super model wife after breaking up with his Baby Mama/Hollywood girlfriend. He's all Back Bay, Pacific Palisades and trips to Brazil and other "exotic" locales. Manning is all blue-collar, grit and small-town America. He's just your average guy with a gargantuan-sized forehead who can fire a perfect spiral.
They are both mirror opposites of the truth, at least in terms of background. The forehead part is correct, and so are those who lament Brady's ever-lasting, they-get-better-with-age pulchritudinous features. Manning was raised a prince, the son of an NFL QB and a No. 1 overall in 1998. Brady was the son of middle-class 49ers season-ticket holders and chosen 199th overall on Day 2 of the 2000 draft.
If Brady never wins another game, his obit will read "three-time Super Bowl Cup champion." That leaves Brady atop 99.99999999 percent of the QBs who have ever taken a snap in the NFL on the all-time ring list. Perspective always helps in these discussions. Brady's success on the field, football work ethic, monstrous house with the moat, good looks, family, financial success and security, win-loss record, apparent skills at parenthood and not just fatherhood and his ability to come through in the clutch [most of the time] were once attributes to be emulated. Now, for so many, they are criminal counts in an indictment of someone who remains a winner even if he hasn't won a Super Bowl in 107 months.
Of course, nothing ignites the Brady Haters more than stuff like this:
On that final note, we can all probably find some common ground.
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