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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Peyton Manning vs Tom Brady

Last week, Fox Sports columnist Jason Whitlock wrote an article contending that Tom Brady of the New England Patriots is the best quarterback of his era, not Indianapolis Colts QB Peyton Manning. I have followed Jason Whitlock's work and opinions, both on sports radio and in his writing, for several years. More times than not, I find myself either completely agreeing with him, to the point of cheering along as I read or listen, or completely disagreeing with him, often flavoring my reaction with the utterance of expletives. Regardless of my agreement with Whitlock, or lack thereof, Whitlock's editorials always make me think and offer a different perspective from which I can view a topic.

I could not disagree more with Whitlock on his contention that Tom Brady is the better quarterback of his era, the past 10 years. There are several fronts on which Whitlock's argument falls woefully short. The passing numbers do not support Whitlock. The win-loss records of Manning and Brady offer little support to Whitlock, and work against the Brady argument if excluding Super Bowl wins from the evaluation criteria. The physical skills of each quarterback offer no support to Whitlock's position.

Would you really want Brady to have your back in a fight before Peyton Manning? REALLY? 1
What Have You Done for Me Lately?

Whitlock's article contains too much supporting evidence from the 2010 season. For as fine and established a columnist as Whitlock is, this is the kind of fallacy for which my 10th grade English teacher, Ms. Coleman, would have knocked me down a letter grade before bothering to check my spelling and grammar. Peyton Manning has been a starter in the NFL since his rookie year in 1998, after being drafted first overall by former Colts Head Coach, Jim Mora, Sr. Tom Brady has been a starter since hijacking the job from longtime starter and team leader Drew Bledsoe in the early weeks of the 2001 season, following a freak injury caused by a cheap shot from a New York Jets player, in an effort by Bill Belichick to take out the last of the meaningful leadership structure of former Patriots Head Coach Bill Parcells. There are nine other seasons in which both men have recorded meaningful playing time. 
I am sure Brady has a good answer to, "What have you done for me lately?" for Gisele and she is...amply...rewarding his efforts.
Whitlock's first point is low hanging fruit for a 2010 comparison. Peyton Manning has turned the ball over at an alarming rate, more than he has in 9 years and the Colts have little room for error should they expect to be playing in January. If the season ended now, I would vote Brady for MVP. There is not much comparison between the two men this year. In fact, the Chargers' Philip Rivers, Mike Vick of the Eagles, and the Saints' Drew Brees are performing head-and-shoulders above Manning right now. So what? One unquestionably superior season does not a superior career make.
Peyton Manning is no Tom Brady? Jason Whitlock is no Gisele. Sorry, pal, you need to hold the bar higher for Tom than Gisele does. Unlike Gisele, you should not reward Tom for answering the same question.
Whitlock continued on to offer (would would become) Brady and the Patriots torching the vaunted New York Jets defense on Monday Night Football and further evidence of Brady's greatness in comparison to Manning. Again, Brady spun a gem that night. He and his team were also throttled my the sub .500 Cleveland Browns. Big deal.... It is a weak argument, when it is made into a focal point, for comparing two careers.


Whitlock then transitions to comparing intangibles such as toughness and leadership. This argument is more relevant to the topic, but is selective and biased, in my opinion. Whitlock offers Brady's superior playoff record, Brady's leadership in transitioning the team away from a "locker room cancer" like wide receiver Randy Moss, and standing in the pocket and taking a hit as examples of Brady's advantages.

This is far from an apples-to-apples comparison. Brady's record in the playoffs does dwarf that of Manning prior to 2005, during the Patriots' Super Bowl winning years. Manning does not play defense and neither does Brady. The Colts defense, prior to the breakout years of defensive end Dwight Freeney and safety Bob Sanders in 2006, could not be fairly described as "mediocre", let alone "good".

The Patriots won their three Super Bowls in 2001, 2003, and 2004 primarily because of a lights-out defense that had playmakers like Ty Law, Rodney Harrison, Lawyer Milloy, Bryan Cox, Mike Vrabel, Ted Johnson, Willie McGinest and Tedy Bruschi. Did you forget about these guys, Mr. Whitlock? C'mon man! Tom Brady had The Tuck Rule and spy video surveillance of opposing defenses. Credit Brady for effectively managing those games and helping the Patriots win, but Brady was replaceable (as Drew Bledsoe, for example, helped earn the win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2001 AFC Championship game in relief of a fragile and injured Brady) during those years and the defensive contributions were irreplaceable. So the Super Bowl argument for Brady vs. Manning falls on deaf ears with me.

Hey Tom! A little credit, please?

Whitlock's argument regarding the Randy Moss situation is also flawed. First of all, Tom Brady ascended, indisputably, to the ranks of the elite because of Randy Moss, in my opinion. Prior to Moss' arrival in 2007, Brady was a super-efficient game manager that snatched anything the opposing defense left on the table, but Brady did not create and MAKE plays, like Manning, and he took very few risks. Enter Randy Moss.

Brady throws for 50 touchdowns, Moss only caught 23 of them. I think having Moss as an option flipped the switch "on" for Brady having the confidence to stretch the field and the ability to recognize when he can do it. So making Moss into a boogie man (which had far more to do with the front office than the locker room) is weak. I also think it is an unfair comparison to Manning. When did Manning ever have to get in front of an embarrassing situation with a teammate? He didn't! So...who really is the better "leader" if this is the standard by which one is judged?

A "Man's" Man!!!!

Whitlock offers an example how Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger fought off Baltimore Ravens superfreak linebacker Terrell Suggs with one hand and played against the Ravens with a broken nose. In contrast, he claims that Manning nervously throws the ball into coverage and goes through greater lengths to avoid contact than Brady.

First of all, the object is to NOT get hit and possibly hurt, jeopardizing your team's season. Getting your nose broken is tough. It is also stupid if you have a means of defending yourself. Tom Brady knows all too well the consequences of taking a hit, as he missed (nearly) the entire 2008 season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee. That season, the Patriots missed the playoffs for the first time in six years.

Man's man: dumb 4
Second, Tom Brady has five tanks for an offensive line. He always has. Some of those tanks may have a bronze bust in Canton, Ohio one day. So he has not had much to get "nervous" about, nor has he had to absorb many hits. Manning has had good support up front, too (though not so much in 2010). So this is a non issue.

Man's man: smart 5
Last, Whitlock offers that Peyton Manning has always had a higher interception percentage than Brady. There are lies, damned lies, and statistics, when those statistics are manipulated to cloud reality. Manning's career interception rate is under 3% and he has taken far more risks into coverage downfield (with far more success) than Brady. So if Brady is a few tenths of a minuscule percentage lower than Manning for throwing picks, so what? If it is 100 degrees outside in Mississippi and 99 degrees in Louisiana, does it matter where you are? IT'S HOT!

Man's man or Bieber-Man? 6

C'mon man!!!! 7

Step Your Game Up, Jason!

Let me, again, reiterate that I like Jason Whitlock's work. He is an asset to sports writing. His opinions, such as this one, always cause me to think and react. That is a measure of an effective member of the media. However, his suggestion that Tom Brady is the better quarterback of this era in the National Football League is highly debatable and poorly supported in his article. His argument hinged on intangibles. I do not believe that he proved his point, certainly not enough to sway an opinion in an opposite direction. Beyond intangibles, there are statistics. Other than Super Bowl victories, I challenge anyone to come up with a viable statistical argument supporting the notion that Brady has been superior to Manning over the course of his career. This round of Manning vs Brady goes to Manning. And this round of sparring opinions goes to The Daily Hat Trick!

Don't forget to vote in today's fan poll!

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  1. How can we find out which games will be televised in Baton Rouge prior to the advocate TV section that morning?

  2. In Baton Rouge? I've found the Advocate to be the quickest, easiest source. If not the actual paper, then

    If we are talking about a local or regional eent, the best source may be a website of a participant. For example, if LSU has a baseball game on local TV (like Cox 4, Cox 37, or channel 16 WBXH), that information is usually available at

    Thank you for reading and thank you for commenting.