The more things change, the more things stay the same. Someone famous once said that, and I’m sure they knew it was the truth. This Sunday, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady will meet for the right to go to the Super Bowl for the 4th time in their careers. Just like old times, a different team for one but the headliners is the same. These two players have always been linked and talked about in the same breath. It’s just the fate for two players who have pushed their way to top of the all time QB rankings. Will this game alter their legacy? No, but it won’t hurt in cementing it.
Peyton Manning was one of the most heralded quarterbacks to come out of high school and college. He was drafted #1 overall in 1998 and his pro career has yet to disappoint. He’s one the big one when people debated if he ever would. He was being compared to Dan Marino more for not winning than John Elway for winning. By the end of his career, he should have most of the big QB records under his belt (regular season wins, touchdowns and passing yards). He is a 4-time MVP and should get some more nice hardware this year, 163-78 record in the regular season, a Super Bowl MVP. This year could be considered one of his finest by setting records with 55 touchdown passes and 5,477 yards.
Tom Brady was barely mentioned out of college. The former Michigan Wolverine was at the NFL Combine and only one team took notice, the New England Patriots. They ended up selecting him in the 6th round n 2000 and he watched from the bench. But when Drew Bledsoe got injured against the New York Jets, the fate of the man and the franchise would forever change. The Patriots became a dynasty in an era when salary caps were supposed to eliminate them. As for Brady, he has been talked about as one of the greatest ever (behind Joe Montana in my opinion). His highlights speak for itself; he’s a 2-time MVP, 2-time Super Bowl MVP, 3-time Champion and an insane 148-43 regular season record.
Brady and Manning have met on the field 14 times, 4 times in the playoffs. Head to head, Brady is 10-4, and 2-1 in the playoffs. In those games Brady has a 68% completion percentage, 26 touchdowns, 12 interceptions to go with his 10 wins. Manning has a 61% completion percentage, 29 touchdowns, but 20 interceptions in those games. Brady was 6-0 to start the rivalry and everyone questioned when Manning would defeat his nemesis. Manning got too much of the blame as poor defense was always his undoing, but Manning never played too big. However since 2006, Manning is 4-4 with one big 18 point comeback win the AFC Championship game. Brady is still 2-1 in the playoffs but the last win went to Manning. This rivalry can be argued for both sides and you might win the debate.
As great as these two players are, there is always a group that brings up their shortcomings. Peyton Manning has ONLY one Super Bowl in his career, and for some reason people seem to think your greatness is measured but amount not the accomplishment. But his record in the playoffs is 10-11 compared to 167-73 in the regular season with the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos. He has had 8 first round exits, which is crazy since he’s usually a first round bye candidate. Brady won 3 Super Bowls in 4 seasons and in 2007 was about to complete the greatest season in history. But one Eli Manning and the New York Giants comeback and Brady has been less than Super since. Brady has a 18-7 record thru Jan18th, but since starting 9-0 he has gone 9-7 in the playoffs. Brady hasn’t won a Super Bowl since 2004 and lost twice in the big game.
Both of these men can be mistaken for greatest of all time or playoff failures. To go to the playoffs as often as these men do, you have to fail. I won’t debate who the better quarterback is, I’ll save that for another time. In a league when new young talent has dominated this game, look over in the NFC matchup for two young QBs, these 38 and 37 year old quarterbacks will duke it out one more time. For now just enjoy this game and these two start-cross players that will be forever linked. You will never mention one without the other and that will be just fine for us. In the end, we all win.