Until about a decade ago, a quarterback’s greatness was judged simply by how good of a quarterback he was.
Makes sense right?
Dan Marino was the purest passer who ever stepped onto a football field. He made a habit of lighting up a defense like a Christmas tree before passing games had even been truly developed.
He broke the 5,000 yard barrier when getting to 4,000 yards passing was still impressive and threw 48 touchdowns in the same season.
Besides Marino himself, nobody touched the 40 TD barrier for 15 years. Even more admirable was the fact that nobody broke the 5,000 yard mark for 24 years.
This guy was a gridiron god!
End of story right…
It wasn’t up for dispute.
Yeah. Joe Montana was good and he had success in the Super Bowl, but when it came to throwing the ball and actual quarterbacking skills, it wasn’t even a question.
Montana was a great quarterback.
Marino was flat out insane!
“Joe Montana was a product of the system. Dan Marino was the system”-Bill Walsh.
Then Brett Favre came along with his ironman/gunslinger mentality and started shattering records left and right, but it still wasn’t a question.
He was good.
He may have even been great, but come on… He was a freak but still… When it came to being a great quarterback…
He was no Marino. Not even close.
Then right when you thought we had seen it all…
Enter Peyton Manning.
This guy was born to be a quarterback.
He was raised to be a quarterback.
For the first time, there was a guy who was actually a threat to be a more pure passer than Marino.
For some reason that scared the hell out of the NFL.
Marino had been so much better than anyone who had come before or after him. What if the league actually had to admit that a new deity had arrived?
Critics started embarrassing themselves trying to prove Peyton wrong.
Before he even entered the league they tried to convince themselves and anyone who would listen that Ryan Leaf was better than him.
They were so scared of Peyton as a matter of fact, that they gave his Heisman to a defensive player (the only time in history that’s ever happened.
He terrorized the league.
Peyton averaged 4,123 yards in his first 5 years.
Why is that a big deal?
Before Peyton showed up, that number had only been eclipsed 21 times total, (4 times by Marino) and here this kid was making it common place.
Around that same time there was another quarterback getting attention. Not because of his numbers (3,605 yard average over his first 5 years as a starter) but because his team had come out of nowhere to win 3 Super Bowls.
Tom Brady, (the NFL’s new “Golden Boy”) was decent but nobody would even think of comparing him to Peyton Manning.
As quarterbacks they weren’t even in the same league.
Brady was a decent quarterback.
Peyton was a gridiron god!
The critics, however, still hadn’t given up on proving that Peyton was human.
So if you can’t beat him, what do you do?
In 2005 the NFL started to mess with the rules like they had never done before and just like that, Tom’s numbers went through the roof.
Now defenders were restricted on how much pressure they could put on quarterbacks, how they could tackle and cover receivers, and once the league started to let Tom bring his own balls to away games, he was finally able to put up the type of numbers Peyton had been putting up all along.
But what they didn’t account for was the fact that Peyton would become better as well.
The crazy part was that even with the rule changes, it still took until 2008 for anyone to do what Marino had done way back in 1984. Eclipse 5,000 yards.
Which one of them did it?
That’s the best part of it all.
It wasn’t either of them.
In 2008, Drew Brees threw for 5,069 yards. Fifteen yards short of Marino’s highwater mark.
Your right. Tom Brady did eventually shatter Marino’s record in 2011 when he threw for 5,235 yards.
Makes for a good story right?
Golden Boy breaks Marino’s all-time record.
It would have been perfect for Brady, if Brees hadn’t gone for 5,476 yards in that same year.
So now critics have a major predictement.
Not only have they failed at making Brady look better than Peyton, now even Brees is making a fool of their plan.
So if you can’t beat them what to do you do?
Change the rules again.
The best quarterback has always been defined by whoever is the best quarterback.
But under that theory, Tom Brady doesn’t even enter the conversation.
So what does he have that the others don’t?
That theory doesn’t work, because that would mean Trent Dilfer is a better quarterback than Marino.
And Terry Bradshaw would be in the same conversation as Montana.
The only way to do it then is to come up with a formula that makes absolutely no sense at all.
Tell fans that rings are the most important factor in determining greatness, but if a guy doesnt have the stats, then rings mean absolutely nothing at all.
Is this a joke?
If that was the case shouldn’t the yearly MVP trophy always go to the QB who won the Super Bowl?
I mean, rings are the most important factor, right?
And doesn’t that go completely against the idea that defense wins championships?
The best quarterback in the league seldom wins the Super Bowl. Yet critics use winning Super Bowls to define the best quarterback of all time.
A ridiculous contradiction.
Eli Manning has the stats (4933 yards in 2011) and has won two rings (both of them in head to head battles with Brady) but somehow that didn’t put him in the conversation.
Instead, critics used that fact to distract the attention away from Brady.
If Eli has 2 rings and Peyton only has one it’s got to be a cut and dry conclusion.
Eli is definitely the better of the two Manning brothers.
Once again that left them with pie thrown in their faces.
They were quickly running out of cards.
So what did they do?
They started labeling Peyton as a “choker.”
We all know that’s ridiculous.
There are 32 teams and only one Champion. Making it to the playoffs should be hailed as an accomplishment not used as a blackmark, but by this point they have so many fans brainwashed that nobody dares question them.
Since 2007, Peyton is 2-2 in the big game.
What’s Tom’s record in that time period? 1-2.
And what’s a bigger “choke” then going undefeated all season and then losing the big game?
Tom has also “choked” in 3 of the last 5 AFC Title games.
The most recent being to Peyton Manning himself.
And if there were any validity to the “choker” thing, then shouldn’t the opposite be true for Brees?
He is a perfect 1-0 in the Super Bowl and has led the league in passing 6 times since 2006, including every year since 2011, except for 2013 when he finished 2nd.
And even though he wasn’t mentioned in the MVP race this year, he finished an even 100 yards ahead of Brady, who played one more game then Brees did.
To this day the 5,000 yard mark has only been breached 8 times. Four of those times belong to Brees and no other quarterback has done it more than once.
There is no question that Brees has been the most dominant passer of the past decade but nobody even realizes it because his team hasn’t won 4 Super Bowls.
And let’s face it.
Being the best quarterback has nothing to do with being the best quarterback anymore.
The guy that is best at slinging the rock should enjoy the recognition of being the greatest, regardless of how his team finishes the year.
Nothing else makes sense.
So you can listen to the media and glorify a guy who was nothing more than mediocre until the league changed the rules for him.
You can toot the horn of a guy who only started to catch up when he was finally allowed to start bringing his own ball.
You can judge a guy based on his team’s success if you want.
Or you can ignore the brainwashing and start giving credit where credit is due.