Decade in Rewind: NFL Player of the '00s

Brady and Manning. Manning and Brady. These two superstar quarterbacks are at the top of everyone’s list of top quarterbacks playing and top players of the decade. As for the Player of the Decade, the choice is simple, and I am here to finally settle the debate.

Point 1: Winning

When it comes to the best player, you can go several ways with that. You can look at who racks up the most yards or points, or you can look at who makes your team the best. A prime example of this is a similar discussion to Brady/Manning, Wilt Chamberlain versus Bill Russell. Chamberlain racked up the monster stats while Russell put up very good numbers. Wilt also never fouled out. But in the end, those two ended up hurting Wilt because he was more concerned about stats then points and let up on defense so he would continue his streak of not fouling out. Russell won only eleven titles in thirteen years and held a  career record against Wilt. So who do you want on your team, the prima donna who is obsessed with statistics, or the great teammate obsessed with winning at all costs, even if it means cutting into his own playing time? If you need more convincing, buy The Book of Basketball by Bill Simmons.

While neither Brady nor Manning falls into the Wilt Chamberlain category, one of the two does follow more into the win-at-all-costs category. In the 2000s, Brady has a  97-29 record while Manning is 131-60. Brady’s winning percentage is a full 8.2 percentage points higher then Manning. Even in head-to-head, Brady has come on top more often then not, with a 7-5 record versus Peyton. Brady led his team to an undefeated regular season and finished the season 18-1 while Peyton laid down after starting the season 14-0, finishing out 14-2. You need a Super Bowl winning drive, Brady has two of those while Peyton only has one, which I will address next.

Tom Brady is a winner, especially in the playoffs

Tom Brady is a winner, especially in the playoffs

Point 2: Playoffs

If you want to measure a winner, the best way to measure one is by the number of trophies and rings they have. Brady has the edge again, with three rings to Manning’s one. Brady did his part to win a fourth ring until Asante Samuel dropped an interception before Eli Manning escaped pressure while his linemen were blatantly holding several Patriots, leading to the catch by David Tyree that every Patriot and Giant fan has engraved in their head. Tom Brady’s playoff dominance and Peyton’s playoff deficiencies goes beyond rings. Let’s take a look at the stats.

To start off, we need to look at their records to see who is the better winner. Brady is 14-4, winning his first 10, while Peyton is a shockingly poor 7-8. That is inexcusable for a Player of the Decade if you lose more then you win in the playoffs. In fact, if you take out Peyton’s 2006 Super Bowl run, he is 3-8 career in the playoffs. During that run to the title, Manning was threw seven interceptions to only three touch downs, which included a Super Bowl victory against Rex Grossman’s Bears. As for Brady in the playoffs, he has thrown six more touch downs and two less interceptions and, again, has a  postseason record of 14-4 this past decade.

I’m not trying to say that Peyton Manning is a terrible quarterback. In fact, I don’t think you can have a better postseason quarterback then Peyton Manning. If I want to win one regular season game, there is a great chance I’m going to call on number 18. But when it really counts, and the game is on the line, I want Tom Brady. So what puts these two Pro-Bowlers apart? The simple answer is Brady is playoff clutch and Peyton is just regular season clutch.

Point 3: Talent of their Teams

Tom Brady has been getting a ton of heat as of late for having a better team then Peyton, but is that really true? Brady won all of his rings with a not-so-stellar core of Deion Branch, David Givens, Troy Brown, and David Patten. Even his runningbacks have been below average with Antowain Smith, Kevin Faulk, Laurence Maroney, and Corey Dillon. Only recently, he was given the true weapons that he has now. 

Peyton Manning has always been blessed with a plethora of talent at the skill positions. When he entered the league in 2001, he already had Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, Edgerrin James, and Dominic Rhodes. He added Dallas Clark in 2003 and Joseph Addai in 2006. The level of talent for the two QBs to work with on offense incredibly favors Peyton.

The Patriots have had a better defense historically then the Colts, but both teams have plenty of All-Pro defenders. The Pats had Tedy Bruschi, Mike Vrabel, Richard Seymour, and Rodney Harrison, but let’s not forget about Bob Sanders, Dwight Freeney, Robert Mathis, and Gary Brackett for Indy.

So in the end, what do you want in a quarterback? A funny guy who is great in commercials or a guy who continually comes through in the clutch. Brady has done more with less over the first decade of this millennium. You can’t name the best player of the decade someone who has a losing record in the playoffs with seven picks in his Super Bowl run; Tom Brady has shown me more then Peyton Manning in the 2000s.

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