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Like the Hatfields and McCoys, Brady vs. Manning debate continues

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When ESPN.com created its All-decade Offense and picked Tom Brady over Peyton Manning, I knew what would happen.  Colts fans went absolutely NUCLEAR that someone didn't kneel at the altar of Peyton.  The war of stats and words began.  Back and forth, playoff wins vs. 4,000 yard seasons, system quarterback vs. true star.  Whatever.  It was all rather amusing, how lathered up people get over this stuff.  There were a few interesting points that I want to address, a sort of Patriots fan perspective on the whole thing, so here goes:

  • Brady is a system QB - Brady is not a true superstar, but a product of the system.  All his success was more the team around him than himself.  While I agree the Patriots system is a major part of their success, it's sophomoric and a bit pedestrian to imply the team could garner all of its success without a great leader at the helm.  There is a derth of examples where teams or groups have lacked a strong leader, but have been successful.  It doesn't happen.  So to claim Brady is a mediocre QB in a great system is a little silly.  Put a great car in the hands of an average driver and he'll be average.  Put a great car in the hands of a great driver and sparks will fly.
  • Cassel did fine, so it's the system - You're right, Cassel DID do fine.  He also had three years to prepare AND, I hate to admit this, one of the easiest schedules in the NFL.  I shudder to think what Brady would've done with 2008.
  • Brady choked the 2006 AFCCG and SB XLII - This one is ESPECIALLY easy to debunk: how can Brady be a system QB yet be solely  responsible for these losses?  Either Brady gets the accolades when they win and the jeers when the lose, or the team gets the win and the team is responsible for the loss.  Which is it, sports fans?  And for the record, Brady led his offense to 34 points in the 2006 AFCCG and wasn't on the field when the defense allowed the Colts to march down the field in the final minutes.  As for SB XLII, blaming the loss on Brady means you weren't watching the game.  It was two things: a) failure on McDaniels' part to adjust in the second half and b) and offensive line breakdown.  It's hard to throw passes when your O line can't keep you from eating fertilizer.
  • Rings - In the face of all else, Colts fans will work hard to marginalize this fact: Brady simply has more rings than Manning.  Whether or not one is better than the other is immaterial.  The simple fact is Brady is more SUCCESSFUL than Manning.  That is undisputed.
  • Spygate - When all else fails to convince people that Brady is more successful than Manning, the ace-in-the-hole, the trump card IS...TAH DAH!  spygate.  Unfortunately, spygate has been largely proven to have had little or no bearing on the Patriots success.  Too many football insiders have proclaimed this a non-issue to make it of any value in a real, intelligent discussion.  It's largely a fan "weapon" (and a weak one at that).  If this is your trump card, I feel sorry for you.  It's a bit like watching William Hung sing She Bang - sad and pathetic.

Are we done yet?