Unlike Patriots fans in 2004, who bashed Peyton Manning to no end when he threw 4 INTs in a big game in Foxboro, we Colts fans will do no such thing with Tom Brady. We respect our competition, and don't let ignorant hate blind us from the truth that Tom Brady is really, REALLY good. In the 2004 playoffs between the Colts and Patriots, the Colts had a chance to win the game in the end in Foxboro despite 5 turnovers. They came up short. This year, despite 5 turnovers, the Patriots had a chance to win (or tie) the game at the end. They just came up short.
This speaks volumes as to how good the respective starting QBs are for Indy and NE.
Despite my consistent bashing of John Madden for his apparent stupidity, he did make a very astute comment the other night. He claimed the NFL is built around two people: Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. Madden is 100% right. Guys like Terrell Owens, Reggie Bush, Chad Johnson, and Michael Vick are all props used by corporate media to sell a razzle-dazzle, loudmouthed product to consumers. Thankfully, no one is buying. Viewers do not tune in to watch Owens drop easy receptions or Vick to run around like an idiot.
They tune in to watch Brady and Manning. Everyone else is an under card.
I really, truly believe we fans are watching two of the greatest QBs ever to lace it up in football. Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are better players than guys like Joe Montana, Johnny Unitas, and Otto Graham. That's not an insult to Graham, Unitas, or Montana. They are immortal. They also played in a different time, a different league. Brady and Manning have to deal with defenses and personnel that those guys never had to consider. Montana never had to deal with the salary cap, and its tendency to change the make-up of a team overnight. Unitas and Graham never had to face a defense like New England's, or battle a blitz-happy team like Pittsburgh.
I've sung Manning's praises all season, and now it's time to give Tommy Terrific some love. Both of these players are remarkably similar, yet very different. Unlike Manning, Brady was not a number one overall pick. He was not highly recruited out of college. He was drafted by the Patriots to serve as the back-up to the back-up of Drew Bledsoe. At the time, Bledsoe was the unquestioned starter, with Damon Huard (now lighting it up for the KC Chiefs) as the back-up. Peyton Manning was brought in to rescue the Colts. Brady was brought to the Patriots as, essentially, roster filler.
In less than two years, Tom Brady was the starting QB for the Super Bowl Champion Patriots, and unlike other surprise super stars like Kurt Warner, Brady has remained at the top of his game. He has evolved from a stable "game manager" to a big league QB capable of carrying a team to the playoffs, as he did last season. Make no mistake about it: the Patriots are a 5 win team without Tom Brady. Despite the supposed "genius" of Bill Belichick, the greatest thing to ever happen to him is to have this kid name Brady fall into his lap. All of Belichick's issues in Cleveland, and the miscues his first year in New England, were washed away with the superb play of Mr. Brady.
It is not Brady's accuracy, or his cool temperament, or his surreal ability to avoid sacks by sliding easily in a collapsing pocket that makes him great. He is great because no matter how the game goes, he gives his team a chance to win in the end.
It is my sincere hope that we fans get to watch Brady and Manning duel each other for another 8 years. I hope they retire together the same year. Then, when they are both eligible for the Hall of Fame, they get inducted together in the same class and give each other's induction speeches, the way Larry Bird gave Magic Johnson's induction speech at the Basketball Hall of Fame. Brady cannot exist without Manning. Manning cannot exist without Brady. The NFL cannot exist without them.
These two men are the NFL.
They embody everything that is great about pro football, and we fans should appreciate everything they give us on the field, even if it's a 4 INT performance. Because, no matter how poorly they play for 3.5 quarters, they possess that special something that gives their team a chance to win, no matter the odds.