Who Got Game??

brady-manning_1160

Manning to Brady - "We still good for a few brewskies next weekend?"...Brady to Manning, "Not sure, I'm probably gonna have to play in the Super Bowl AGAIN."

Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are the two greatest quarterbacks ever to pick up a pigskin.

The Venuist will tolerate no discussion about football that does not acknowledge the above fact.  Otto Graham? Johnny Unitas? I want to apologize to these greats right upfront.  As far as T*V is concerned, dudes who played in the pre-Merger era are representatives of not only a different era, but practically a different sport altogether.  Someday, the e-almanacs of American Sports will show that Brady and Manning, Manning and Brady, averaged well above a 60% percent completion rate for their careers.  Otto and J.U. were  only a few notches above 50% lifetime.   And I guarantee that they wouldn’t win the long toss competition during Pro Bowl week.  Does that make them the lesser sportsmen in the history books?  Not at all.  They were the two greatest QB’s of their time, and really, their sport.   They played in what The Venuist likes to call NFL v. 1.0 (and for a while, in NFL v. 1.1/1.2).  Unitas, tellingly, lost to the Jets and Joe  “I wasn’t actually very good” Namath in the debut derby match of NFL 2.0, also known as Super Bowl III (or alternately as: “the last time the New York Jets didn’t suck”).

[[[Side Note: Just to take this a bit further.  The 70s Steelers?  That’s NFL 2.1  The Marino Dolphins and Walsh 49ers?  That’s NFL 2.2 and up.  Presently, you’re looking at NFL v. 3.0  How do I know this?  Check it: have you seen the FOX football robot???  ‘Nough said. All records and software is compatible since the launch of NFL v. 2.0, ok?

This means that we can rightfully compare Marino (top 5), Elway (overrated, top 15), Montana (#3 all-time), Young (top 10), Kelly, Favre (still pronounced Fahhv-rrah to in my house), et al without worrying about unfair comparisons to a completely different type of football than what we’ve all grown up watching.

Compared to the above names, no one but no one touches Manning or Brady, Brady or Manning.]]]

joe-montana

Yes, kids - when The Venuist was a kid the 49ers were like the Patriots today and the 49ers today were like the Patriots back then...I know! It's wicked WEIRD!

Why?  Brief Analysis of a Bold Remark:

  • The game has changed.  It’s harder, more complex, and more competitive in the past 15 years than ever before.  Yet Brady’s all-time win percentage is close to 800% (no one has ever stepped on the opponents throat, raised the dead in time for a 2 minute drill comeback, or stared his opponents into servile submission like a roused Tom Brady).  Manning, in the same mediocre league, has stolen and rewritten every meaningful passing record any of the earlier great QBs had ever held.  Manning’s like the asshole boxing champ who wins all of the titles concurrently so that it’s hard to pat the old timers on the back just because they used to hold this one belt or that one record.  Manning is the alpha and he’s also the omega, and that’s just that.
  • Brady and Manning play what has increasingly become the most sophisticated and critical position in all  of professional sports, worldwide.  Offenses – since the inception NFL v.2.0, that is, before that it was all handoffs, sweeps, and sanctioned anarchy- used to be built around a discrete “system.”  Walsh liked to spread the field horizontally.  Al Davis liked to push the ball down the numbers vertically.  The Bills of the 90s “hurried up” while Joe Gibbs and Don Shula, pre-Marino, wanted to run it down your throat until you cried for milk-and-cookies or lay dead in a pool of your own blood and vomit.  These offenses were true “systems.”  They stolid philosophies.  They had particularized personnel.  Essentially, it was pre-modern warfare.  Team offenses were essentially one type of classic military attack: an infantry (powerful and deliberate running attack), a calvary (teams that had quick RB’s and guards and liked to run outside the numbers), or an air force captained by one of two types of pilot – a QB an accurate OR a powerful arm.  Manning and Brady are accuracy and power, precision-oriented and explosive.  Neither runs an “offensive system” so much as an offensive seminar.  Either would be happy to break your back in the air or on the ground by any means necessary.  When people say a player doesn’t fit into the Colt’s system, it means that he’s too inflexible to play along with Manning’s improv sessions (see below), but this is rare.  When people say that a player doesn’t fit in the Pat’s system, it means that he is too stupid to play alongside Tom Brady’s real-time micromanagement (see below); this is commonplace.

So all things being equal, you ask, who’s better?  

The most wholly appropriate answer to this question is: fuck you.

On the other hand, it’s perfectly fine to take a look at both and make a fair comparison just so we can say we did our due diligence:  

ottograham

NFL v.1.0 - Otto Graham collects his thoughts, thinks he'll go for a whiskey and a smoke at half-time, "just to take the edge off."

Peyton Manning:

Manning is the Robin Williams (when he was still on coke, batshit crazy speaking in tongues and whatnot, and still  funny) of quarterbacking only his equivalent of the standup routine takes place on the hash marks just behind the line of scrimmage.   Seriously though, Manning is the poster child for meticulous study and then, calculated improvisation.

Here’s how it works – the Colts offense is actually very simple.  Once the ball is snapped only so many things can happen.  It’s what happens before the snap that defines Manning’s art and his greatness.  The team approaches the line of scrimmage with a play in mind but with the knowledge that that blue print can go right out the window as soon as Peyton takes a gander at the defense.  This only works because Peyton is a football savant.  He sees all instantly and like MacGyver, or a 4 star Chef, can improvise a recipe with what he brought to the table out of the huddle.  But, as a savant, he wants to make sure the moving parts in his souffle (see: mortal, fellow teammates) cannot fuck his shit up.  So if he walks up to the “line” and instead of setting a screen right decides the play should now be a deep shot down the sideline, he barks in Esperanto about a ‘blue dog’ or some other kind of mythical creature and everyone in his offense remembers the deep ball play that they practised that week and so said play is brought into motion.  In this scenario, each of his receivers knows that, no matter how crappy a route they might run, Peyton will put the ball where they have a chance at catching it, and if they run a great route, Peyton will put the ball where no soul on the defense has a chance of catching them.  

All of this calculation and strategizing takes place – in Peyton Manning’s mind – in the time it takes The Venuist to uncork a cold-brewed, blue-mountained bottle of crappy beer.

And don’t give me that crap – and yes, I’m looking at YOU New England sports fans and certain Eli Manning supporters – that Peyton is not clutch, or is not a “winner.”  He’s won and he’s been clutch and he’s currently coaching, coordinated, and starring in a little production called “the 2009 Colts have little to no offensive talent, a rookie coach, are decimated by injuries, and oh yeah, are presently un-defeated in a league where any of those factors would cripple any other team except for one featuring…”
 

tom-brady-stetson-man

"hey, sailor"

Tom Brady:

Brady  does not improvise.  He indexes.  He is a born technocrat.  He’s the borg (or, in that case, Roger Federer) of football.  Born with much less talent than most of his peers, Brady excelled because he has almost never made the same mistake twice whilst on the gridiron.  Examples?  Brady gets pressed into service in 2001 and everyone says he’s got poise but express reservations about when a 6th Round Draft Pick is going to be in a situation where he has to make quick decisions and take over a game.  Result?  Pats beat Rams in Super Bowl on a two-minute drill.  So then, Brady wins Super Bowl MVP with only one remaining knock against his game: that he supposedly can’t throw the deep ball.  Result?  Brady goes back to his high school quarterbacks coach to work on his technique.  Result?  Brady enters a QB competition of pros just to win the long-ball throw, which he does.  Brady goes on and wins two more titles without ever challenging an all-time  record, pundits mull the implications.  Result?  Brady gets fed up and asks for Randy Moss.  Result?  They both break every single single season offensive record in every meaningful category.  

The Lesson? Brady beats you before the game.  In fact, he likely beat you in a training room back in May  – doing core strengthening squat thrusts while watching grade-A Belichick approved tape of your pitiful “pro”  football team. 

The Lesson? You do not fuck with Tom Brady. 

How Brady’s offense works – plays are often called in the huddle (but can just as easily be run without a proper huddle) as a consequence of Brady and the offensive coordinator (who this is matters so little that the Pats rarely even bother giving someone the title offensive coordinator.  To be fair, Manning IS the offensive coordinator for the Colts) discussing the three million possible plays in the Pats playbook according to which most suit the game plan they discussed for that week.  Each of these “plays” actually is a rough concept of a play.  In each passing down, for every receiver, their is usually no fewer than 3, and as many as like, 10, route options.  Which route the receiver runs is contingent on the the way the defense (a) lines up, (b) bumps, prods or turns the receiver within 5 yards of the line, or (c)  any additional direction that Brady might audible at the line.  Brady, for his part, expects that the receiver will pick the correct route.  And Brady, for his part, takes into account the possible 15 to 50 possible permutations of the “play” that he called back in the huddle.  He performs this task in the amount of time it takes The Venuist to fish for a handful of microwave popcorn.

Summation: 

  • Manning is the boyscout genius who comes in early, prepared and builds a time-bomb with a swiss army knife.
  • Brady is the surgeon who lugs around (seemingly without effort) an ever-expanding briefcase of scalpels with which to cut out your beating heart.

Manning and Brady, Brady and Manning.  They both can ball, son. 

peyton manning 2

above: the day Brady beat-out Manning to be the "Stetson Man"

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