Reports are flying in today that Manning is going to miss a sizable portion of the upcoming football season. I can't begin to tell how disappointed I am.
This is precisely what happened in 2008, when Brady went down for the year. I think Brady is the better quarterback. Colts fans seem to think that it's Manning. One of the things I enjoy the most about each NFL season is seeing who has a better year. I was immensely frustrating in 2008, not only because our team was significantly set back by the injury, but also because Manning took the MVP that year with a pretty mediocre season (by all-time QB standards). He started out pretty ugly and there were news articles being written that maybe Eli had surpassed his brother (no doubt written by the same folks who brought us "Trade Brady keep Cassel" garbage, but still). He turned it up late in the year and with a few timely 4th quarter comebacks and weak competition for the award, he sealed up the MVP. How many Patriots fans wondered, if Brady had been upright and coming off the fireworks of 2007 with a soft schedule in the wings, if Tom would have been able to bring home the award if only he'd showed up. Not only that, but in the Pats-Colts game that season, with such a close ending, did anyone consider that with Brady, we could have pulled out the win?
The very same could happen this year. Lets suppose, for the sack of tidiness though I hope otherwise, that Manning misses all of 2011. Brady has a pretty solid year (4k yards, 30 TDs and 10 INTs), the Pats go 13-3 and Brady wins MVP. The Colts fans, and many others around the NFL, would wonder aloud if Manning 'should' have won the MVP. The last player other than these two to take home the trophy was LaDanian Tomlinson. Yeah. Many would wonder if things could have been different, and even Pats fans would fear they were right.
I want Brady-Manning to be a level playing field, and it's such a shame that this will essentially be a wasted year in the rivalry. Even a Super Bowl would seem cheap without stomping the Colts in a snowstorm on the way there. Not to mention, Manning missing time inevitably invites silly comparisons between the relative play of both team's back-up QBs. I actually hope the Colts are somewhat competent without Manning so the talking heads don't start anointing him GOAT by subtraction.
That all said, I wish him a speedy recovery so that we can continue to beat the Colts properly. I'm posting this on Pats Pulpit and Stampede Blue and I welcome your thoughts.
NOTE: I'm not writing this to start a fight, rub salt in a wound, etc. I'm sorry if I come off a bit snarky, but my intention is to show my belief that losing Manning is bad not just for the Colts, but is bad for the league as well. It's also not intended to be a Who's Better debate. I'm a Pats fan, so this is written from the perspective of a Patriots fan, ergo the bit about me thinking Brady is better.