Here we are in our 20s, and our generation is still lacking its signature rivalry. Our parents were in their twenties for the epic trilogy between Ali and Frasier as well as the glorious days of Magic and Bird following the 1979 NCAA title game. Sure, we had Sosa-McGwire for a few summers in our youth, but with all the controversy about drugs, it would be sad if that is the sports rivalry we find ourselves incoherently telling to our grandchildren in another 50 years. Fortunately, help is on the way: Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. These two are going to be inducted into Canton someday as two of the greatest to ever take a snap in the NFL. Brady has a shot of surpassing Terry Bradshaw and John Elway in terms of winning championships and games. Manning has a good chance to exceed Dan Marino and Brett Favre in terms of statistical greatness.
But the differences between Brady and Manning will likely continue to fuel the lively debate surrounding these two “rivals.” Is Brady the greatest quarterback of the modern era because of his 3 Superbowl rings in 4 years? Or is it Manning, because of his NFL record forty-nine touchdown passes in a single season? Brady’s critics will claim that surely the Patriots defense and Bill Belichick should be given credit for the Patriots remarkable winning ways. Manning’s detractors will claim the Colts all-star offense featuring Reggie Wayne, Marvin Harrison, Brandon Stokley and until recently, Edgerrin James, has to be credited with much of Manning’s offensive proficiency.
A lot has also been made of the differences between Brady and Manning in terms of NFL pedigree. Brady sat on the bench his first two years at Michigan and was then selected in the sixth round of the NFL draft in 2000 by the Patriots. Brady did not become an NFL starter until Drew Bledsoe was injured in 2001. His path to NFL stardom could not differ more radically from Manning’s. Peyton Manning, along with his brother Eli Manning and his father Archie Manning have all been NFL quarterbacks. Peyton Manning attended Tennessee where he finished second in the Heisman balloting in 1997 and was then selected with the first overall pick by the Colts in 1998.
The hype surrounding Brady and Manning has gained momentum as the two have lead their teams to continued success. Last year’s regular season match up made the cover of Sports Illustrated, and the most recent game between the two was met with anticipation that is normally reserved for the playoffs. In terms of the all-time head-to-head meetings between the two Brady has bested Manning six times out of eight, with Manning getting his only wins in the two most recent meetings.
After watching last Sunday’s game on NBC, it seems clear that right now, Manning is the superior quarterback. Manning finished the game completing 20 of 36 passes for 326 yards with two scores and an interception. Brady on the other hand, completed 20 of 34 passes with four interceptions and no touchdowns.
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