Tom Brady is 37, and Peyton Manning is 38! For those of you that thought that these two ageless wonders would still be slinging pigskin in the 2020’s please re-read the first sentence of the article. It is very likely that within the next three years we will have to watch an NFL season without arguably two of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game. For many of us this will represent the end of an era, and for others it will be the cause of celebration. Brady has owned the AFC East forever, and Manning has sported similar records, weather playing in the AFC West or South. While the departure of both QB’s will cause a swell shindig in various places, I question whose retirement revelry will be the most audible.
In short, the player others will be most happy to see leave is going to be Peyton Manning. There really isn’t one factor that he doesn’t best Brady on, but for the sake of appeasing your curiosity I will break this down for you.
Players will be happier to see Manning leave for the same reason kids are happy to see the best player leaving the pickup game after school. NFL players are competitors, and to be beat (to the tune of 5500 yards and 55 touchdowns) is no fun. Brady is a great player, but Peyton is statically better in every way. At least with Brady you didn’t have to worry about the wide receivers so much. Brady was going to beat you, not the guy running the route (Randy Moss and Rob Gronkowski excluded). Peyton makes his receivers better, and while his “at-line-audibles” are the key to so much of his success Peyton has always had the ability to help his receivers shine. This is the same reason coaches (particularly defensive coordinators) are going to happy to see him go. Do you have any idea how hard it is to game plan for a guy who walks up to the line every snap and looks at what you’re doing and then picks the play is? I used to do this when playing Madden all the time and it drove my friends nuts.
Fans are going to be happy to see Manning go more than Brady because of the commercials. I can think of three major products that I see Manning hock that get him on my television 15 times a week at a minimum. I can’t remember the last time I saw Brady in and Uggs commercial. The other thing is that Peyton has seen measurably more success than Brady in recent years (statically and with his team), so he get’s more media coverage as well. Really this has been the way of things since the beginning. Peyton has taken the spotlight, and Brady has been happy to plug away. Peyton has blazed up the record books, and Brady has won championships. I mean unless you’re a fan of the Bills (I can suggest about 28 other teams you could switch to), the Dolphins or the Jets (not one of the 28) than Brady was the type of player that you had to respect. He was quiet, lead by example, and won. It wasn’t always pretty, but he won. Really it’s the Randy Moss/Wes Welker era where Brady was going insane statistically that made him a villain. The three super bowl wins were all by three points. He’s lost super bowls and AFC championship games that he should have won, and won games he had no business winning. Brady was drafted in the 5th round, no one expected him to replace DrewBledsoe as a starter, and had Bledsoe not got injured I’m not sure we ever see Brady as a starter anywhere. Fun fact, Tony Romo was the backup to Drew Bledsoe also, when Bledsoe came to Dallas after a lackluster stint with Buffalo. I joked at the time “anyone who wants a pro-bowl caliber starting QB start Bledsoe and insert your backup will arise.”
Now dear reader, I don’t want you to think I like Brady. I have roughly equal disdain for him as I do the Manning’s (Eli, Peyton and Archie). The key difference for me is that I respect how Brady goes about his business, as compared to Peyton. I respect how both play the game as such a high level, and how both have been able to do it for so long, but it doesn’t mean I like them. I am going to be happy to see Denver real in the search to keep pace with the other teams in the AFC West. I am going to delight in seeing Bill Belichick try desperately to hold onto his job amidst a loosing season behind anyone but Tom. I will enjoy seeing both divisions up for grabs, and not as penned in locks for two home playoff games in January. New England and Denver have enjoyed, and will continue to enjoy, more than enough success in this decade; it’s time for some of the other teams to have their moment in the sun. That is unless these teams draft a player that is capable of filling their shoes. It could be a late round steal like a Brady, Russell Wilson or a Tony Romo (actually not drafted), or it could be the fruition of a top tier pick that lives up to the hype like Peyton, Eli, or Andrew Luck. It’s not likely, but I mean the Colts managed to pull this off in one year. I imagine there were few people happier when Peyton changed clubs that the fans of the Texans, Jaguars and Titans, and look where they are now… never mind.