It's the Christmas of the NFL regular season. Tom Brady and Peyton Manning square off once more in the battle of the two Quarterbacking giants of the 21st century. Although the game will take place in... let's say... unfamiliar circumstances, this will be a big one. The New England Patriots and the Denver Broncos will both be in play-off contention come the end of the season, and this might be key to seeding.
But of course, there's just one question: Who's better: Tom "Terrific" Brady or Peyton "Mastermind" Manning?
Let's start with the visitor to Gillette Stadium. Well, 4 league MVP awards isn't a bad start. Even the most loyal of Patriot fans must give Manning some respect. This guy is the smartest QB to play the game. He's basically the offensive coordinator out there (and Drew Brees is currently showing us how hard that is), and he can pick apart a defense as easy as cutting up a pie. Coming off neck surgery, there's a lack of fizzle on his throws, but in last weeks thrashing of the Oakland Raiders, he has showing that he still has it. In abundance.
It's a cliché, but he has revolutionized not just the Quarterback position, but the NFL game as a whole. The way he audibles and sizes up defenses has led to Quarterbacks trying to copy his winning formula, and therefore they're getting smarter. With that, defenses have to get smarter. They have to adjust to everything he does. Even for a number one pick in the draft, that's a pretty impressive legacy. And he does have a glistening ring on his finger, even if it was against a crappy Chicago Bears. He nearly had another, if it wasn't for the "Team Of Destiny" New Orleans Saints (though that's in a bit of doubt...). This guy will go down in NFL history as an all time great, and a top 5 QB of all time. He can bring this up with success in Denver. If Number 15 can take them to the playoffs, I don't even want to know what a fully healthy Peyton can do.
But then, we've got the home town favorite. Mr. 199. Mr. Not Athletic Enough. Tom Brady. If I had one word to describe Brady, it would be "winner". He's never been good enough, in college and in the NFL. Even with the rings, and an astonishing career, he still feels he has something to prove. People still doubt him. This is a kid who went from number 4 in the depth chart to number 2 in mere months, and when his time came, he never let it go. Causing the second biggest upset in Super Bowl history usually guarantees a starting spot.
He won two more rings in the next 3 seasons. He took a team 16-0 for the first time ever, and nearly took it all (f**k you David Tyree). And if it wasn't for a season ending injury in week 1 the next year (f**k you Bernard Pollard) I firmly believe they could have gone 16-0 again, heck, they went 11-5 with Matt Cassell, and I believe they would have won it all against the Arizona Cardinals... Add to that two NFL MVP's: in 2007, when he set the NFL record for 50 TD's in a season, and in 2010 when he became the first unanimous league MVP after throwing just 4 INT's in the whole year.
Oh, and Brady is 7-5 vs Manning, and 2-1 vs Manning in the Playoffs. And has made 5 Super Bowl appearances to Manning's 2.
It's a biased opinion I'm aware of that. How can't it be. Excellence was expected of Manning, and he delivered excellence, and then some. But Brady... He's just a winner. Their legacies will be different, and both very impressive. But, after all, Manning has never had a dynasty...
You're hate for me praising Manning so much can be sent to Twitter - @Brendan_Annely
P.S. I know this turned into a Brady love-in, but this scene from Friends sums it up. Think of Tommy as the cake...