I’m going to go ahead and say it. It was a boring game. While yes, we can rack it up to a defensive battle behind one of the best defenses ever to take the field, there were also a ton of mental errors by both quarterbacks.
A defensive battle is a lot like a no-hitter. You’re into it, but until it gets right up till the very end, you just want to speed through it and see if the pitcher — or in this case defense — can pull it off. The main difference is that the pitcher usually gets more run support from their offenses than that pitiful display last night.
Super Bowl 50 is a mere five days — and 700 hours of pregame shows — away from kickoff. There is the very high likely hood that we may be seeing the greatest quarterback of all-time play in his final game.
The Super Bowl has rarely been kind to Peyton Manning. Heck, the playoffs have been a constant struggle throughout his 18-year career. I have said it 100 times before and I’ll say it a million more: no sport’s greatness is judged more by the rings on your finger than the NFL. Especially for a quarterback.
That’s why it was so important that Peyton at least got one under his belt.
This was a peculiar year in the NFL. Officiating hit an all time low. Injuries to he NFL’s biggest stars were at an all time high. No one on the planet knows what a catch is. And Roger Goodell continues to digress in what was once a strong presence in the commissioner’s office.
Oh yea, and there is going to be NFL football in LA.
Oh, and oh yea, the greatest rivalry in sports is about to write out its final chapter.
Last night, at the onset of Thursday Night Football, Saturday Edition, the world collectively took a huge gasp together. Peyton Manning used PEDs in 2011. Without hesitation, the internet blew up, spreading this claim worldwide so every sports fan would know that Manning, Julius Peppers, Ryan Howard and Ryan Zimmerman were all cheaters.
As you are reading this, I am already on the road. I am heading back to Salem, Virginia to cover — as I did last year — the Stagg Bowl. It is the crowning achievement in NCAA DIII football, and really one of the more fun games of the year. It’s on ESPN U Friday night at 7 PM if you don’t believe me. Ever hear of Friday Night Lights? Well, that wasn’t about this, but hey, it’s Friday night, and there will be plenty of lights.
Anyway, our old friend Dunton stepped in and agreed to help keep the morning thoughts rolling, because typing is rather difficult on a six hour road trip. Today he looks at the current state of two all time greats.
Yesterday was a rough day for Denver Broncos and New York Giants fans. The fanbases of both teams were able to rejoice early on in their teams games, but both would eventually turn sour on the day. Sitting right in the heart of each performance were the two quarterbacks — Eli Manning and Peyton Manning — as we may be watching the fall of NFL’s regal sons.
Another NBA season has come to an end. It’s pretty much the same story every year. LeBron James takes a poorly put together team to the Finals and, more often than not, he loses. This year, it was at the hands of the Golden State Warriors, who was simply the better team.
You know, a team? It’s one of those things that has 8 or 9 solid players that contribute 100 percent of the time. One of those things LeBron James has never really had, because they focus on surrounding him with only two other “superstars”, but have been burned by the depth of other teams like the San Antonio Spurs and Warriors because that equation simply does not work. But I digress.
Once again, with his fifth consecutive trip to the NBA Finals, King James is under scrutiny for where he stands in NBA lore. More specifically, it comes down to, yet again, Michael Jordan versus LeBron. MJ vs. LBJ. Well, I already explained my stance over a year ago. You can take a trip down memory lane with Space Jammin’ on the King if you forgot.
Defining greatness in each of the four major sports is unique. Baseball is based on stats, but stats that are measured differently in each person’s eyes. That started with Roger Maris and that pesky asterisk because people wanted longer seasons, but they didn’t want people to do so well that they broke records with those longer seasons. It hasn’t ended over 50 years later, as now stats that were accumulated during the Steroid Era are thrown by the wayside. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Unless you want to dump everyone under the steroid umbrella — even those like Ken Griffey, Jr. and Jim Thome who’s names seemingly never came up — then the stats matter. Is Barry Bonds the biggest d-bag of his era? Probably, but he was also one sick player.
In hockey, well, quite honestly, I have no idea what defines greatness. Part of being my age is the fact that in the NFL, NBA and NHL, my generation witnessed the greatest era of each of those sports. Were there greater players before Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Jari Kurri and Paul Coffey upended the NHL? Of course, but there hadn’t been a dynamic like that until then, and there really hasn’t been one since. Maybe Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr, but even Sid the Kid hasn’t come close to that kind of greatness.
The NBA? It’s all about Eras. Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain — on paper — were pretty much then two greatest players to put on those legendary short shorts. But we have all heard the argument that they wouldn’t hold a candle to the big men of the 80s and 90s, like Shaquille O’Nealfor example. The Dream Team Era (i.e. the era of the Showtime Lakers and the coming of the MJ Age) was the best of all time, so correspondingly they showcased the most of the greatest players to ever suit up. It doesn’t matter how many championships you won, because in the NBA, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Isaiah Thomas and Tim Duncan had made it nearly impossible for anyone to do so for the past 30 years.
In football, it’s all about the titles. Seriously, the fact that Peyton Manning is not widely and unanimously considered the best quarterback ever is the prime example of that. Who is? Tom Brady? He is a very good quarterback, but he is also the face of the biggest powerhouse of this millennium, and that certainly helps his reputation. Joe Montana? He’s not in the Top 10 of all time in any stat but passer rating. He took the helms of a team that was full off All Pros and Hall of Famers, manning an offense that had never been seen before, while throwing to a guy who had the best hands and pass running routes in the history of the game. I’m not taking anything away from either of these two, but Peyton Manning is in a league of his own, and he always has been.
King James and Peyton are the same person. They are surrounded by immense talent, but their teams are not built for success. LeBron’s teams have struggled, as I have said, from poorly put together teams. Both in Miami and Cleveland, a bulk of the money was spent on signing a Big Three combo, with little attention paid to the rest of the team. In both cities, LeBron was burned by injuries to those star sidekicks and lacked anyone else to step up. You know who the reigning NBA Finals MVP is? That’s right, the guy who started the Finals as a sixth man. You don’t have depth, you don’t have rings, it’s that simple.
Manning had the same problems. He was always surrounded by top wide receivers and tight ends, but there was very little focus on the running game or defense. When he finally had those defensive pieces in place in Denver, they got smoked in the Super Bowl. Why? They weren’t as deeply rounded as a team like the Seahawks, or teams like the Patriots who don’t have many superstars, but at least solid players everywhere around the field.
They both put up numbers that most athletes can only dream of, but at the end of the day successful role players like Robert Horry and lucky quarterbacks like Peyton’s baby brother Eli have more rings.
Look deeper into the comparison. Both started their professional careers in the midwest. Both moved on to bigger markets who had at least one championship underneath their belts. Both lost their first chance at a title with their new teams to teams that everyone viewed as inferior. And both may very well never win a title again.
Like Peyton Manning, Bron is going to eclipse the most heralded records in his respective sport’s history. If he keeps up his current pace, he’ll shatter the scoring record and also like Peyton, he will probably have the most MVP Awards in his sport’s history by the time he hangs up the ol’ basketball sneakers.
And unfortunately for King James, LeBron is always going to have to live in the shadows of, yes MJ, but even some of his contemporaries. Is Kobe Bryant better? Is Russell Westbrook set to become the best player in the NBA? If that guy can finally get back to staying healthy, he very well could.
Manning and James are both Hall of Famers. They will both be remembered for eternity for their accomplishments, both on and off the playing field/court, because for the most part, they are both pretty standup guys. But both will be haunted by the fact that they couldn’t nail down more titles. If they each had two or three more titles under their belts, this conversation would never be happening. But until they do, I’ll keep on writing away!
This past Monday Night Football pitted the New Orleans Saints against the Baltimore Ravens. What we saw was more of the same. The Saints horrendously hole-y defense couldn’t keep the other team from outscoring their potent offense. It was also yet another night that Drew Brees went off, as he tossed the pigskin for 420 yards and three touchdowns at an amazing 77-percent rate.
It was just another night for Drew Brees. Poor, poor Drew Brees. What amazes me most about Brees is how unheralded of a quarterback he seems to be. I know, I know, Brees is the savior of New Orleans, lifting them up to new heights in a time when they sorely needed it. And Brees is one of the most beloved and stand-up players in all of the NFL. He is also, however, very rarely brought up when the discussion arises about who is the Greatest QB of All Time?
Brees suffers from what I like to call the Michael Jordan Syndrome. Jordan was the King of the NBA for 13 seasons from the mid-80s to the late 90s. During that time, some of the greatest players to suit up were on the court lighting up box scores for decades. Names like Charles Barkley, Karl Malone and (as much as it pains me to say it) Patrick Ewing were playing second fiddle to His Airness. If you took Jordan out of the picture, these guys, amongst a bevy of others, all would have had more MVP Awards, probably a few more scoring titles and certainly more championships than the combined zero they accumulated during Jordan’s reign. That doesn’t make them any less part of the all-time NBA greats, but it clearly has removed them from any consideration for the G.O.A.T.
The same could be said for Brees. Throughout his entire career, he has seemed to be on the outside looking in amongst the league’s great quarterbacks. Brees’ career started off slowly with San Diego, but you wouldn’t even know he existed because the eyes of the NFL universe were watching Brett Favre break records and this young Peyton Manning kid come into his own. Then a certain Tom Brady stepped in for an injured Drew Bledsoe and the conversation of the best quarterback in football became a yearly battle between Brady and Manning. Then, Favre left Green Bay and this Aaron Rodgers kid blew up on the scene and Brees seemingly took yet another step back.
But why? Evaluate the numbers alone. There have been only 8, EIGHT, 5000-yard passing seasons in NFL history. Fifty percent of those belong to Brees, including the last three years in a row. He currently has 3,491 yards passing on the 2014 season. That’s an average of 317 yards per game and with five games left on the schedule, that puts him at 5,076 yards passing on the season. That’s four seasons in a row and over 20,000 yards passing in four years. That’s an entire career for a lot of quarterbacks! I know what you’re going to say: it’s a different NFL as it is now a passing league. That’s fine and all, but Brees has never fallen off and has clearly defined this passing age of football.
Brees is currently Top Five all-time in passes completed and attempted as well as passing yards and touchdowns. He has the seventh highest QB rating of all time as well. When you discuss statistical passing leaders, his name is in the same breath as Manning, Brady, Favre and Dan Marino, yet when the best QB conversation is mentioned, those four are usually brought up and Brees is not.
Again, I have to ask why? The knock against Marino was that he never won a championship, but he also did things through the air at a time when other quarterbacks stood by in awe. Well, Brees has one of those. By any chance, do you remember who he beat? True, you can make the argument that Brees doesn’t have any MVP Awards, but he does have a Super Bowl MVP Award. He also has a Comeback Player of the Year Award and TWO AP Offensive Player of the Year Awards. The 2009 season in which Brees led the Saints to the Super Bowl, he couldn’t even muster the MVP. Know why? Manning was wrapping up his fourth.
Brees, like Marino, has a lot of excuses that could be made due to circumstances out of their control. Since Brees has come to New Orleans, like Marino, he has never had a reliable running game. Like Marino, he never had Hall of Fame receivers. They have both had very good receivers that they have made great. Seriously, you think Marques Colston is a number one receiver on any other team in the NFL? Robert Meachem? Devery Henderson? Lance Moore? Hell, Lance Moore can’t even get on the field in Pittsburgh behind two rookies and Meachem failed so badly when he left New Orleans, San Diego sent him back! Brady, on the other hand, was a clutch, game-managing QB until he broke records throwing to Randy Moss, who is one of the greatest receivers ever. Montana had the luxury of throwing to Jerry Rice who made Rich “The Cannon” Gannon (Go Blue Hens!) an NFL MVP. Manning? He has thrown the ball to two sure-fire Hall of Famers and probably two or three more along the way (Dallas Clark, Wes Welker and Demaryius Thomas all present possibilities). Elway was 0-for-3 in Super Bowls until the best running back of the late-90s and possibly the greatest tight end of all time came along. That doesn’t take anything away from the greatness of those quarterbacks, but it certainly helps.
Most of the places you look, whether it is an NFL Films piece, a horribly executed ESPN Top Five or anywhere on the glorious internet, when it comes down to greatest QBs of all time, the argument usually revolves around Manning, Brady, Favre, Marino, John Elway, Joe Montana and Unitas. Most Top Ten lists don’t even mention Brees, throwing the likes of Fran Tarkenton, Warren Moon, Steve Young, Jim Kelly, Roger Staubach and Terry Bradshaw into the mix. I’m not taking anything away from any of those guys (well maybe Bradshaw. Go ahead look at his numbers, talk about being in the right place at the right time and taking all of the glory). I’m not saying that they aren’t deserving. All I am saying is that it is time to give serious consideration to Drew Brees as the G.O.A.T of NFL QBs.
Well, folks, baseball season is over. The end of the World Series will now bring endless amounts of rumors as to where each big free agent is going to go. College football had some big games and the playoff picture may have gotten a little bit clearer. That’s still weird to hear, huh? Playoff picture and college football in the same sentence? Russell Westbrook proved to be one of the most fragile “superstars” in the NBA and the Dallas Cowboys dropped their second straight loss. Pretty eventful week, huh?
Last week, I came on here and told you that the Cowboys were not the best team in the NFL, despite many pundits seeing things differently. If you saw my Wacky Week in Sports (click here if you haven’t), you will see I have acknowledged that the Cowboys are a legit team. But they still aren’t the best. That honor belongs to Peyton Manning and his Denver Broncos. They were the best team last season and ran into a hot Seahawks team that is struggling to stay out of the cellar in 2014. Manning now stands alone as the all-time touchdown king in NFL history. It’s a record that will continue to grow, and although they say records were made to be broken, I don’t know how this one would ever be.
Heading into the halfway point of the season, the five best teams right now are the Denver Broncos, the Dallas Cowboys, the Arizona Cardinals, the Philadelphia Eagles and the Indianapolis Colts or Green Bay Packers. All six of these teams have huge games this weekend that are must-wins to keep the likes of the Chargers, Lions and Patriots from continuing to climb to the top. The five worst teams right now are the Oakland Raiders, Jacksonville Jaguars, the New York Jets, the Tampa Bay Suck-a-neers and Atlanta Falcons. The Titans, Vikings and the Saints are probably all worse off than the Falcons, but this Atlanta team was supposed to bounce back this season and instead, they seem to be sinking deeper into the abyss that their 2013 collapse was.
The San Francisco 49ers and New York Giants both have off this week which means we got a pretty full slate of 15 games. What should you be paying close attention to this weekend? Well, that’s why you clicked on this article, right?