On Sunday afternoon, Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning broke the record for most touchdown passes in a season, reaching a total of 51 with one game still to go in the regular season. The former record of 50 was set by Tom Brady of the New England Patriots back in 2007. This incredible feat naturally led me to think about these two signal-callers and to compare their illustrious careers.
There is little doubt that both of these guys will be considered among the best of all time at their position when their careers have ended. Why, then, is it such a popular thing to compare them? I think we just like to rank things…especially in sports. There is no objective measure we can use here that would clearly differentiate between the two, unfortunately, so it is left to the supposed experts, as well as to the novices like myself, to make judgments that have no choice but to be flawed. After all, we are talking about a couple of guys that have put up mind-boggling numbers over the last decade and a half. Manning entered the league in 1999 as the first overall draft pick, chosen by the Indianapolis Colts after a stellar career at the University of Tennessee. Brady came along a year later, but under very different circumstances. He was a sixth-round pick of the New England Patriots after playing at the University of Michigan, and little was expected out of him. Drew Bledsoe was the established starter for the team, and Brady actually started his first season as the fourth-string quarterback. Bledsoe was injured in the second game of Brady’s second season, and, 357 touchdown passes and nearly 50,000 yards later, Brady has led his team to three Super Bowl titles and has won two MVP awards. Manning, at the same time, has thrown for 487 touchdowns and almost 65,000 yards, winning one Super Bowl along the way.
Manning’s statistics may be superior, but the three Super Bowls set Brady apart for me. Even more than that, though, there is one big thing that makes it fairly easy decision in my eyes. If I were a football coach, and I had 100 opportunities to choose one of these two quarterbacks to play for my team in a game for all the marbles, I would pick Brady every one of those 100 times. He is at his best in the biggest moments, appearing to be completely unflappable and unaffected by the hugeness of the moment. Manning, on the other hand, has often struggled on the biggest stages. As great as his regular seasons have been, his teams have routinely lost in the playoffs sooner than expected. Even the one Super Bowl title he has, from the 2006-2007 season, is widely considered to have been the product of a dominant defense led by safety Bob Sanders. His only other Super Bowl appearance was after the 2009 season, when his Colts lost of the New Orleans Saints, with Manning throwing a critical interception that was returned for a touchdown with a little over three minutes left while trying to drive his team to a tying score. His four league MVP awards are nothing to sneeze at, though.
Like I said earlier, these two players have been so great for so long, it seems a bit silly to downgrade either one of them in any serious kind of way. Tom Brady may just be the greatest quarterback of all time, but even if he is, Peyton Manning is just behind him. They are both incredible leaders and, by all accounts, pretty good people. It is certainly appropriate that their legacies will be intertwined.
Good sports, continued:
2) Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker had a pretty fantastic night on Monday night against the Detroit Lions. As if kicking six field goals in one game was not enough of an accomplishment, the final one, which won the game for the Ravens with 38 seconds left, was from 61 yards away.
3) Early talk of a boycott never really took off, but the U.S. is sending a pretty obvious message to the government of Russia, host of the upcoming Olympic Games in Sochi. The Russian government passed laws last year banning what it called “gay propaganda,” and many world leaders have decided to not attend the games in response. This week, President Obama named two prominent gay athletes, Billie Jean King and Brian Boitano, to the U.S. Delegation to the games.
4) Saturday was a day for big comebacks. Down 15 points to Washington State with three minutes to go in the New Mexico Bowl, Colorado State managed two touchdowns and a field goal, facilitated by two WSU fumbles, to win by a score of 48-45. In college basketball, Notre Dame blew an 8-point lead with 50 seconds to go in the game, as Ohio State forced a bunch of mistakes buy the Irish to win, 64-61.
1) Seattle Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner, who is currently serving an indefinite suspension from the NFL, has threatened a lawsuit if his suspension is not overturned. He has already lost his official appeal. There was no explanation given, as far as the grounds on which he would sue.
2) Mississippi State was fined by the SEC for violating some kind of “artificial noisemaker” policy that the league has. This sounds really odd. First, what exactly is an artificial noisemaker? If something makes noise, isn’t that necessarily real noise? Or is it the noisemaker itself that is artificial? Anyway, the league is apparently okay with the cowbells that many Bulldogs fans bring to the games, but there are some kind of rules that dictate when during the game the cowbells can be used. I am not making this up.
3) Barry Hinson, the head basketball coach for Southern Illinois, ripped into his players after a loss to Murray State on Tuesday, calling them “a bunch of mama’s boys.” He specifically talked about one player, Marcus Filyaw, saying he was “absolutely awful.” He has since stated that he regrets some of his words. I am all for players being held accountable, but doing this publicly is likely not the best way to motivate his team.
Bad sports, good sports appears every Monday
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