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I’m pretty sure everyone in the world is aware that the AFC East-leading Pats are taking on the undefeated Colts this Sunday night, even people on the other side of the world who have the misguided notion that football is a sport played exclusively with your feet by men who purposefully fall down anytime an opponent is with 3 ft. of them.
With all this hype, we’ve all been bombarded with the unavoidable Brady/Manning comparisons this past week. Hate to disappoint you, but you’re going to get one more. Wait though. Before you start thinking, “Jesus, not again. I’ve heard this argument hundreds of times,” hear me out for a minute, because this isn’t going to be your typical Brady/Manning break down.
I’m not going to dissect their stats. This is mostly due to the fact that I’m mathematically retarded, and having me compile a coherent statistical analysis is tantamount to a Somerville townie teaching an advanced English class.
This won’t be a “Who’d you rather have at QB?” conversation either. Because much like the “Which Character from Friends Would You Rather Do: Rachel or Monica?” debate that raged during the late 20th and early 21st century, it’s a winless argument in which the only thing ever agreed upon is that both choices are substantially better than Phoebe (whom for the sake of this metaphor can be represented by the quarterbacks of the Raiders, Browns, Redskins, Panthers, Bucs, Bills and Rams collectively).
Instead, I’ll judge these two great QBs the same way I judge most other people—by arbitrarily scoring their lives. And in the spirit of the thing, I’ll put a football spin on it and break it down into four quarters.
Now do I really need to say anything? Don’t get me wrong, Mrs. Manning is quite attractive in her own right, I just highly doubt any of us have had impure thoughts whilst thumbing the pages of the August ’06 issue of Indianapolis Woman. If you have, your problems reach far beyond the scope of anything this column is qualified to handle.
But having a smoking hot wife isn’t all that puts Tom ahead here (though it is most of it). The guy really defied some amazing odds.
Brady was 7th on the depth chart his freshman year at Michigan, battled scrubs like Drew Henson and Brian Griese for playing time, and was a draft afterthought. Realistically, his ceiling should’ve been a cute cheerleader. But instead the guy goes on to date and sire the children of some the world’s sexiest women. That’d be like if you or I went from working a crappy landscaping job to becoming the head groundskeeper for the Red Sox, all while hooking up with Kathryn Tappen and Heidi Watney in the process.
Peyton, on the other hand, underachieves here. He had a superstar pedigree, a high profile college career and was a 1st round draft pick. In theory, he could’ve picked nearly any woman he wanted. But instead he settled for marrying his decent looking college sweetheart. I’m not saying that he could’ve gotten a Gisele or Briget Moynahan caliber wife, but a Rachel McAdams or Shannon Elizabeth wasn’t totally out of the picture.
Brady blows Peyton out in the 1st: 21-0.
In a conservative estimate, I put Manning’s time of appearing in commercials to his time of possession at 3 to 1 over the course of his career. It’s enough for my buddy Andy to quip anytime we watch a Colts game, “Hey did you know famous actor and pitchman Peyton Manning is starting under center for the Colts today?”
Andy (like some) is annoyed with Manning’s ever expanding roster of endorsements and media exposure. But most find him humorous and entertaining, not to mention his appearance on SNL (and his United Way sketch in particular) was classic. Besides, before Peyton came along, Sprint, DirecTV, OREO’s, ESPN, Sony, Gatorade, Reebok, MasterCard and Indiana’s childhood obesity epidemic all lacked a common advocate. But thanks to the affable QB and his Southern drawl, that problem, much like polio, is a thing of the past.
Conversely, Brady just hasn’t been able to become the media juggernaut Manning has. His SNL appearance was forgettable, and though he may have sent countless teenage girls and gay men into a hormonal rage by posing half nude for Stetson cologne and Calvin Klein underwear, the average NFL fan was less impressed. And it’s fortunate for Tom that Brett Favre made those Wrangler jeans commercials; otherwise Brady would still hold the dubious distinction of appearing in the most homoerotic ads in the history of NFL quarterbacks.
Tom needs to leave the underwear modeling to his wife and take a page out of Peyton’s playbook by endorsing things that most of us can relate to, like credit card debt, junk food and childhood obesity.
Peyton surges back at the half: Brady 21, Manning 14.
Foxborough isn’t technically Boston, but for the sake of the argument, we’ll lump it into greater-Boston—a diverse and picaresque city with a rich mix of history and modern culture. It’s one of America’s great sports and college towns and home to world-class hospitals, museums, dining and nightlife.
Peyton, in contrast, lives and works in Indianapolis, which is Greek for Indiana City, and incidentally the most exciting fact one can discover about Indianapolis. Now I can certainly understand that being home to the world’s largest children’s museum might be a source of pride for the fine citizens of Indianapolis, but using it as your city’s major selling point isn’t just pathetic, it’s creepy and a sure-fire way to attract sexual predators.
Having had the displeasure of visiting Indianapolis myself, I can honestly say it possesses all the aesthetic charm of a strip mall Pizza Hut and is saturated with what can only be described as a dense cloud of boredom and despair. A winning combination potent enough to drive a person to gouge their eyes out—an undertaking that I quickly considered before realizing that it I went through with it, the final image I’d have in this otherwise beautiful world would be of the sprawling crappiness that is Indianapolis, Indiana, a fate I wouldn’t wish upon my worse enemy.
Brady regains control: 31-14.
Life is full of peaks and valleys (except in Indianapolis, where it’s full of flat, monolithic dullness, but we covered that already). Being the pessimist I am, I thought it was worth looking at some of these men’s crappier moments, if for nothing else but to make me feel better about my unfulfilling life.
At first glance you’d say Brady had a lower rock bottom than Manning. In a matter of a few football minutes Tom Brady went from the verge of immortality to losing a perfect season, the Super Bowl and the function of his ACL. It’s hard to imagine things being much worse. But for Peyton it was. And I can best explain why with this anecdote:
When I was younger it took me an entire summer to learn how to get up on water skis. The weekend after this crowning achievement, my younger cousin came for a visit. After watching me show off my newfound skill for an afternoon, he decides to give it a try. Know what happened? He got up. On his fourth try no less. It took me nearly three months to get up, and he did in just 30 minutes. You know how pissed I was?
Not nearly as pissed as Peyton was when he saw his younger brother win a Super Bowl just a year after he won his, and in half the time mind you. Listen, I’m not a very competitive person, but I wanted to strangle my little cousin with the ski rope the day he bested me. So I can only imagine what the uber-competitive Peyton felt when he saw his less talented brother easily achieve something he struggled so mightily with. Sure, he smiled and said how proud of little brother he was. But deep inside that killed him.
Yeah, Brady had a bad 2008. But he still had three rings and Gisele Bundchen waiting in bed for him. Manning’s life work and sense of identity was pretty much obliterated in the matter of minutes by his bratty little brother. Points and game to Brady.
So there you have it, finally, an objective and scientific answer to who’s the better QB. But to be honest with you, Brady pretty much had this one locked up after the 1st quarter.