Heading into the Super Bowl, a lot of NFL watchers were ready to anoint Peyton Manning as the best quarterback in NFL history. No doubt, his leading advocates (Mark Gaughan, for one) will still contend Manning is the best. But after the Colts' loss in Super Bowl 44 on Sunday night, the issue is much more muddled.
I've said for awhile that Tom Brady is the best ever. Brady won three Super Bowls and lost a fourth. Manning has now played in two Super Bowls and won one. A lot of quarterbacks have won one Super Bowl. Drew Brees, for example. You can make an argument that Brees is the best quarterback of the past four years after his brilliant, MVP performance in Sunday's game.
Manning is amazing. He has led the Colts to 10 playoff berths in the last 11 seasons. He has done it with a weak defense at times, and a suspect running game. By the time he retires, his passing numbers could be the best all-time. But statistics are one thing, and championships are another.
Fair or not, quarterbacks are measured largely by titles. Joe Montana won four Super Bowl, which is why he has often been considered the best ever. So if Manning doesn't win another Super Bowl, it will count against him in the minds of a lot of football observers. Maybe it's not fair, but this is a subjective exercise and there's no way to conclusively say who is the best.
I mean, how would Johnny Unitas, Fran Tarkenton and Sammy Baugh measure up in today's game? You can't hold their stats against them. The best old-time QBs would put up statistics that are similar to today's top QBs. You don't think Unitas could go 32-for-39 in a Super Bowl today, with his remarkable gift for making the right throws under pressure?
I'm a Brady guy, but I can sympathize with people who feel the argument is tilted toward players from the last 25 years or so (Manning, Brady, Montana, John Elway, Dan Marino). How do you punish guys who didn't play in the Super Bowl era for not winning Super Bowls?
Well, it's a fun and endless exercise. That's why we obsess about it. So what do you think? Is Manning the best ever? Brady? Are you still a Montana guy? Or do you favor someone else? My feeling is that the best quarterback of all time doesn't make the throw that Tracy Porter picked off and ran back for a TD late in Sunday's game.
I'll start off the poll with a vote for Brady. Feel free to chime in with yours. Take the poll below: