As fans and media, we overvalue championships.
No, really. We do. Way overvalue them.
If you win rings, you are awesome. If you don't, you suck. That's pretty much what it all boils down to when people evaluate the greatness of one player over another. However, when you try and apply logic to this extremely vapid and lazy criteria, it all falls apart... kind of how the Patriots defense kind of fell apart in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XLVI.
The most recent example of overvaluing championships are articles like this one, articles where writers are actually asking the question as to whether a quarterback with zero league MVPs and a career rating of 82.1 is better than one who has won four league MVPs and has a career rating of 94.9.
Of course, we're talking about the moronic 'Is Eli now better than Peyton' question, a question so insulting to your intelligence it should make flames shoot out of your eye sockets.
The Big Lead's Jason Lisk seems equally annoyed with people already talking about the 'legacy' of the Manning brothers, and how Eli is possibly already better than his older bro Peyton.
So what is Eli Manning’s Legacy? The first thing I could do is point out that declaring a Legacy now is antithetical; it is the transient move. Don’t believe me? What is Tom Brady’s "Legacy"? Is it different now than it was in 2001, or 2004, or 2007? (Don’t answer that, Eric Wilbur.) Something is not defined mid-painting, and it is the safer play to wait ’til the die is completely cast and then write as if it was all so certain to begin with. The perception of Eli – his legacy as people will say – can change due to himself, and of course due to what others outside his control do.
The reason the Manning legacy question is getting asked is because Eli Manning now has two Super Bowl victories while Peyton has one. Naturally, in the eyes of sages like Deion Sanders, this puts Eli one notch ahead of Peyton.
"Your legacy is based on what?" said Deion Sanders, the Hall of Fame cornerback and NFL Network studio analyst. "It's based on wins. It's based on Super Bowls. It's not based on statistics. If you want to talk about legacies, then statistically you'd have to mention Dan Marino. But when you're talking about the greatest ever, I always hear Elway. Or I always hear Montana. So Eli, if he wins this game, he would win that particular battle because he would do something his brother wouldn't do. He won twice."
While it is obvious to me and just about everyone else in this business that Sanders is a clueless chatterbox who brings about as much insight to NFL Network's gameday coverage as Snookie would if she had a featured guest seat next to Rich Eisen every Sunday, his point articulated above is indeed what many people feel truly defines 'greatness.'
However, once again, if you apply logic to this lazy sort of analysis, it all kind of falls apart.
Eli Manning has two Super Bowl wins. I guess that now means he's better than Peyton. He's also better than Drew Brees, Steve Young, and Brett Favre.
Let's toss it around further: David Carr won a ring last night because he's the backup quarterback of the Giants. This now means he's just as good as Peyton, and he is better than Matt Schaub, the Texans quarterback who replaced Carr after years of futility in Houston.
I mean, seriously. I'm barely trying here, and Deion's argument makes it sound like it was argued by a fourth grader.
Sadly, this is how people measure excellence these days. Think of how frustrating it must be for Dan Marino to listen to morons like Sanders prattle on about greatness. All Marino ever did was hold some of the greatest records in NFL history for decades, records that have only recently been broken because the NFL re-arranged its rules to prevent defensive backs from dry humping receivers up and down the field (as Sanders was known for doing), and thus making it easier to play pitch-and-catch.
When it comes to the Manning question of 'who is better,' I'm thankful that we aren't getting too many silly articles outright declaring Eli better. Personally, I think it's a bit cowardly to leave it all as an open-ended question. Sure, Eli might win another ring. Is he going to win four MVPs? Is he going to take the Giants to the playoffs ten straight years? Is he going to pass for 54,000 yards and 400 TDs?
No. He probably won't.
In the end, as Lisk accurately and effectively points out, attempts to define Eli's legacy now are a waste. If you are calling Eli 'better' than Peyton now solely because Eli has another ring, that too is a waste. If all we are going to do is value people who win, then we need to start being a little more consistent in our arguments. If Eli is a winner, so is David Carr. If Peyton is less of a quarterback because he has 'only one ring,' then so is Drew Brees.
Let's also take our arguments outside the quarterback position, because quarterbacks do not win games in football. Teams do. Are Chris Doleman, Cortez Kennedy, Cris Carter, and Tim Brown losers because they never won rings? NFL Network's Mike Lombardi got nasty on Twitter this weekend when Charles Haley was snubbed for the Hall of Fame once again, this time for Doleman. His argument:
No Charles Haley. You have to be kidding me. Doleman was great but No Super BowlsHaley had 5.— Michael Lombardi (@michaelombardi) February 4, 2012
Maybe they're putting stupid juice in the water over there at the NFL Network studios. Charles Haley has 105 career sacks. Chris Doleman has 150. Doleman also played at a high level for 15 years. His last year in the league (1999), he had 8 sacks.
Doleman never won a ring though. Never even played in a Super Bowl. Yet, despite his career being clearly better and more deserving of the Hall of Fame than Haley's, here's yet another yuckster tossing out the whole 'BUT HE'S A WINNER!' argument.
Flames. Eye sockets.
Maybe I'm old fashioned. Maybe I'm just a loser who, instead of rewarding winning, rewards overall great play. Maybe I just don't understand how things work because I place more value on the quality of a player's overall career than whether or not he won anything. As Lisk stated in his article, how we define someone, whether they are a Hall of Famer, that will eventually take care of itself.
I just wish we were a tad more sophisticated when we make those definitions.