Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are the two of the best quarterbacks of all-time and the best of this generation and for maybe the final time in the postseason they will battle for the AFC title Sunday afternoon.
Sunday’s epic matchup Sunday between these great quarterbacks is really about choice. Brady and Manning are both no doubt Hall of Famers with stats that would make any fan drool, but if you look deeper than the regular season and postseason statistics you can see there is a big difference between Tom and Peyton. Barring a Manning retirement following this season, which I highly doubt we’ll see, Peyton will finish his career with just about every meaningful quarterback record except for the most important two — playoff and Super Bowl victories.
Manning and Brady have had far different paths to greatness. To properly understand the magnitude of 15th meeting between the two quarterbacks and the fourth in the playoffs, we first have to look to the past.
Manning was the No. 1 pick in the 1998 draft after a great career at Tennessee where he beat everyone except for Steve Spurrier’s Florida Gators. Manning famously told Colts executive Bill Polian at the ‘98 NFL Combine that Indianapolis should pick No. 18 or he would make them regret that decision. Polian used his brain and chose Manning over Ryan Leaf and the rest is history. On paper, Manning was everything Polian and Colts owner Jim Irsay hoped he’d be. A pillar of the community off the field and a franchise quarterback on the field.
Brady was pick No. 199 in the 2000 draft after an uneven college career at the University of Michigan, where he had trouble getting playing time ahead of Drew Henson. Yes, Drew Henson the former Cowboys quarterback and New York Yankees bust once made life difficult for Tom Brady to get on the field in college. Brady was chosen just as security for Patriot franchise quarterback Drew Bledsoe, but then 2001 happened and the NFL changed forever.