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Anthony Stalter
National Blogger

Anthony Stalter

Senior Sports Editor for The Scores Report

All about the rings

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Want proof that stats don't always tell the entire story? Take Peyton Manning's Super Bowl XLIV numbers for example.

Manning completed 31-of-45 passes for 333 yards with one touchdown and one interception. You would usually find those kind of numbers in the box score of the winning quarterback, but Manning was outplayed by Drew Brees and that's why the Saints' QB hoisted the Lombardi Trophy and MVP award on Sunday night.

Football is a team sport and one play doesn't decide the outcome of a game. But the fact of the matter is that when the Colts needed Manning the most last night, he wound up getting a front row seat to Tracy Porter's 74-yard pick six - the play that put the nail in the coffin for Indianapolis.

The national media loves to throw Manning's name in the ring as being one of the "best ever." But what some in the media choose to ignore when it comes to Manning is that quarterbacks are always judged on Super Bowl victories. Whether it's fair or not, the only thing that defines a quarterback's legacy is how many titles he racks up and to date, Manning has one Super Bowl ring and a truck load of missed opportunities.

Don't misinterpret my point; Manning is brilliant. He's always the most prepared player on the field, he can read defenses better than any quarterback in the league and he has a knack for putting his team on his shoulders and carrying them to victory. But let's not push aside the fact that he's also 9-9 in the postseason, which is the place true "best evers" shine.

Joe Montana was 4-0 in the Super Bowl and 16-7 in the postseason. He threw 11 touchdowns in the NFL title game and no interceptions, which is why he's the only player in Super Bowl history to win three MVP awards.

Tom Brady is 3-1 in the Super Bowl, with two MVP awards and currently has a postseason record of 11-4. Before his career is said and done, he may match Montana for number of Super Bowl victories and MVP awards.

Now, we can debate whether or not Montana or Brady or Terry Bradshaw or whomever had more advantages than Manning does throughout their careers. But haven't we made enough excuses for Peyton? After all, when teams gather for training camp every year, they don't talk about racking up regular season stats or awards - they talk about winning the Super Bowl. Manning is absolutely fantastic during the regular season and a lot changed in terms of his legacy when he won the Super Bowl four years ago. But in order to be considered the "best ever" he has to produce in the postseason.

Is Manning's legacy ruined with the Colts' loss on Sunday night? Of course not - especially considering that he may win another Super Bowl or two before his career is finished. But he has to find a way to win that game, regardless of whether or not his only mistake was an interception.

The "best evers" always do.

By Anthony Stalter  |  February 8, 2010; 11:36 AM ET  | Category:  Peyton Manning Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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At 33, Manning already has one more Super Bowl ring than John Elway did at the same age. And he has more than Dan Marino did in his entire career. And certainly no one would doubt their places as two of the best QBs ever.

If the discussion is "the absolute best ever," well, no, Manning isn't there. But he still has plenty more games to play.

If we're talking about his legacy as "among the best ever," then yesterday's game has done nothing to tarnish that.

Posted by: js_edit | February 8, 2010 2:07 PM

"At 33, Manning already has one more Super Bowl ring than John Elway did at the same age. And he has more than Dan Marino did in his entire career. And certainly no one would doubt their places as two of the best QBs ever."

Yes, I would. While I would certainly not say that Joe Theismann is a better quarterback than Dan Marino, I would rank quarterbacks like Terry Bradshaw or Joe Montana ahead of either. I think it's possible to be a great quarterback and not win a championship, but championships do rank and distinguish great quarterbacks.

(Speaking of great quarterbacks, there are two QBs who get wrongfully overlooked in the discussion of "best quarterback ever." The first is Bart Starr, who only won two Super Bowls but won three NFL titles before the Super Bowl began. No team before Starr and none after him ever won three consecutive NFL championships, but this feat gets lost because the 1965 Packers did not play in a Super Bowl.

The second is Otto Graham. When he was quarterback for the Cleveland Browns, he led the team to ten consecutive championship games, and won seven of them. Even if you throw out the 4 AAFL titles, three titles in six years is still impressive. But when Otto retired (later to become coach of the Redskins), the AFL was still in its infancy, so the Browns did not play in a Super Bowl.)

Payton Manning is not the greatest quarterback of all time. Neither are Dan Marino nor John Elway.

Edward J. Cunningham
Rockville, MD

Posted by: femfour | February 18, 2010 4:12 AM

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