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Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning: No Debate Necessary For Patriots Fans

Tom Peyton - USA Today

Tom Brady.

Peyton Manning.

About the only comparison we haven't seen is how they match up on the tennis court.

We should get that by Friday in the tsunami of hyperbole and analysis preceding Sunday's 4:25 p.m. matchup in Foxborough.

Who's better?

How do they rank in terms of NFL history?

Who do you want as your QB with everything on the line?

What makes the whole "Brady vs. Manning" rivalry so intense and so unique is that theirs is one which is rooted in legitimate head-to-head matchups. They've faced off against each other 15 times. Brady's team has won 10 of those games. Brady's .667 winning percentage is always a fun number to lob into the face of anyone who wants to laud Manning's play at the expense of Brady's legacy.

That is just one way to compare these two. There's an endless streak of statistics, metrics, game-situations and particular match-ups that should allow anyone to make a lucid argument for either QB. Boston.com made an infographic comparing some of them:

brady_manning_facebook.png

(you can view the full infographic here.)

They have played in four win-or-go-home games against each other in their careers. Each has won two. Manning has the edge in individual numbers. Brady owns three Super Bowl rings to Peyton Manning's one.

Sober, restrained analysis, especially when it comes to the play of Tom Brady against Peyton Manning, really isn't our strength here. And that's what this week should be all about. There's no sane reason to apologize for acknowledging the play and success of either Brady or Manning.

It's really your guy vs. their guy.

For the national audience, this is the latest version of "Montana vs. Elway," "Williams vs. DiMaggio," or "Ginger vs. Mary Ann." There is no correct or incorrect answer, unless of course you're picking Mary Ann.

The real storyline this week isn't so much which one is better but rather how fortunate the NFL and its fans are to have both of them in the league at the same time.

The only comparison for fans and/or those who invest emotionally in the Patriots is this: Which QB would you rather have backed over the past 15 years? That answer is as clear as skies above the summit of Mount Washington.

It's their guy.

Brady has become much more than just a great quarterback for the Patriots and their fans. He is the signature player of their franchise. His forever-handsome face rests firmly on the Mt. Rushmore of Boston Sports. Manning isn't even the best quarterback to ever play for either the Colts or Broncos. He was Mr. Colt until he was cast aside and landed in Denver. His No. 18 in Indianapolis is quickly being eclipsed by the play of its new No. 12, Andrew Luck. Meanwhile, in Devner, Manning has become the greatest Broncos QB in history not named John Elway.

Manning's exploits don't concern football fans in New England, unless they comes at the expense of the Patriots and/or their fantasy league teams. That's just how they roll. Boston isn't called "The Hub Of The Universe" for nothing. This immense self-awareness has been watered down in recent years. For one, the Patriots haven't won a Super Bowl in 10 years. That doesn't help in the swagger department.

What we call "sports hate" has waned everywhere in recent years. Much of that is the result of the world's digital inter-connectivity. It's sometime harder to "sports hate" another team or its players when you can reach out to them personally on Twitter. Just saying "__________ suck" isn't enough any more. [Unless we're talking about the Jets.] Now, you might have to explain why. That's not always so simple.

Manning's talent and success is undeniable, no matter where your allegiances lie. He plays well in Middle America, not so much in Foxborough [and Gainesville.] His "amical Pennsyltucky doofus" persona probably wouldn't win over many converts in Boston unless he won at least four Super Bowls.

Manning's road to the NFL was a four-lane highway with little traffic. To his credit, his work ethic has rivaled, if not surpassed, that of his lesser contemporaries. That proof can be seen whenever the 38-year-old Manning takes a snap.

Brady's pedigree didn't offer much hope for New England fans. His NFL success came quickly and without any warning. He was of middle-class roots and was not the first choice of his college coach. All of that came before he waited through 198 picks before being chosen in the NFL draft.

Brady now hobnobs among the world's elite alongside his supermodel wife. Yet he remains the most glamorous and handsome blue-collar QB in the game. Manning's preeminence among NFL quarterbacks of his era would have been unchallenged and unquestioned had it not been for Brady ascension.

That, combined with the myths and legend of "SpyGate," and the latest drivel about the secret radio signals in Brady's helmets, leaves those who support Manning in this argument even more flushed than the latest Facebook photo with Gisele.

Fans in New England and elsewhere who back the Patriots have named children and pets in honor of Brady. Those who side with Team Peyton in this debate often loathe seeing Evil Tom given such high praise off the field.

Last fall, NBC cast Brady in the role of "Dexter" when hyping its New England-Denver regular-season match-up.

Big BRady

Coincidence? You decide.

Manning's greatness has always been about Manning. His fans are as much Manning fans as they are Broncos or Colts fans. Brady's base of support begins in Waterville, Maine and starts to fade east of Waterbury, Conn. His fans are primarily Patriots fans, or vice versa. Brady and the Patriots are permanently linked. Manning has a real chance to win a Super Bowl with two franchises.

Even if Brady is dealt to the Texans before Tuesday's 4 p.m. trade deadline, he is a permanent Patriot. Seeing Brady in a Texans' uniform would fade into historic irrelevance in much the same way Joe Montana's time in Kansas City or Emmitt Smith's time in Arizona. He won't be creating any new legacies anywhere.

Brady is their guy.

And that makes him better than your guy, no matter what anyone says.


The OBF column is written by award-winning journalist and Bay State native Bill Speros. Bill has written and reported for ESPN, CBSSports.Com and was a sports/deputy sports editor at several metro daily newspapers. Reach Bill on the OBF Facebook page, on Twitter @realOBF or at his
OBF email Address
. Thanks always for reading.

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