Unless the laws of arithmetic have changed somewhere along the way — I admittedly wasn’t the best math student in my day — four is still twice as much as two. Am I correct?
And Patriots quarterback Tom Brady still has four Super Bowl titles. Right?
Yet a segment of the American population heads into a post-Super Bowl workweek with a nausea not necessarily because of the results, but thanks to the over-deification of America’s favorite darling. The NFL’s corporate MVP, Peyton Manning, did next to nothing to win his second Lombardi Trophy, but was feted afterward as if he’d just won the Nobel Prize for Riding Coattails.
The Denver Broncos won their third Super Bowl title in franchise history Sunday night, a 24-10 smothering of the Carolina Panthers. Not surprisingly, Super Bowl 50 was a defensive show — complete with lots of punts!! — in which the Denver defense proved itself worthy of the label of the NFL’s best. When Super Bowl MVP Von Miller and company weren’t sacking Panthers quarterback and league MVP Cam Newton, they were sacking him even harder, turning Superman into Clark Kent.
Newton threw for 265 yards and an interception and lost a pair of fumbles in an embarrassing performance that would even make the likes of Tony Eason cringe. In fact, the best that can be said for Newton’s performance is that at least it was more impressive than Manning’s night.
To say Manning was pedestrian in his fourth Super Bowl appearance would be an insult to Trent Dilfer. He threw for only 141 yards and an interception. Newton had a 55.4 QB rating; Manning, 56.6. They were a combined four for 29 on third down.
Yet, this was a guy that a handful of football writers, presumably of clear mind and soul, thought was worthy of a game MVP vote?
Maybe it was the emotion in the wake of the game. Perhaps it was the feeling of invulnerability when your team wins, which also might be the reason downtown gathering spots resemble 1985 Beirut after a trophy is handed over. Or it could just be everyone had too many of those there Budweisers that Manning talked about Sunday night, right after he said his first priority was to hug his wife and kids, but, apparently not before Papa John, who embraced his spokesperson only moments after the Broncos’ win became official. That moment really was the ideal way to kick off the celebration.
In any case, no. Manning’s second ring does not make him the “NFL’s best QB ever,’’ as The Washington Post’s Neil Greenberg dubbed him. So, while the Panthers weren’t dabbing, we at least know now where there was some of it going on.
“And even though Manning has fewer rings than Brady, Manning still deserves to be thought of as the NFL’s best quarterback ever,’’ Greenberg writes, “because, according to Adam Steele, Manning has outplayed Brady in the playoffs through the 2004 season, despite not receiving the same team support.
“Even before Manning got his second ring he deserved to be looked upon as the NFL’s all-time greatest quarterback. Now that he has ring No. 2, there really shouldn’t be any debate.’’
That’s the only accurate portion. There shouldn’t. That will remain the case unless Manning wants to catch up to Brady by winning two more, that is.
In the article that Greenberg references, Steele writes, “Brady’s teammates were clutch and Manning’s teammates were chokers. Brady’s teams gave him a healthy +4.93 EPA/G of support during his magical 9-0 playoff start, while Manning’s teams stumbled to a dreadful -9.42 EPA/G of “support.’’ That’s right — through 2004, Brady’s teammates provided him a two touchdown per game advantage over Manning’s in the playoffs. Brady had positive support in seven out of nine games, while Manning had positive support in only two out of eight contests. In fact, Manning actually suffered poorer support during his three wins than in his five losses! This includes his famous 2003 win over the Chiefs in which neither team punted and Dante Hall was in full human joystick mode. Of course, nobody cared about seeing the whole picture, so W/L records and ringz were all that mattered. The narratives were set in stone: Brady is clutch, Manning is a choker.’’
Cool. At least it’s a simple argument the Manning folks are shooting for.
Manning’s demeanor and respect for the game go a long way, and look particularly good after Newton’s blunt and selfish postgame press conference after the loss, during which he refused to answer questions and left the stage after about only three minutes. Anyone can admit Manning looks like a leader on the level of Gandhi compared to that.
But Brady-Manning is over, and has been over for quite some time. Brady has four Super Bowl titles, which, again, please let me know if the process has changed here, is two more than two, which is what Manning now boasts. And yet we’ve even stooped to the grounds of making excuses for the players around Manning, which Brady must get a kick out of while mumbling Reche Caldwell’s and Doug Gabriel’s names over and over again.
As nobody in New England really cares if Manning ever took HGH, there were probably a healthy number of Patriots fans who found themselves rooting for the Broncos on Sunday night. It was an activity that is going to come with all the regret of staying at the bar until past closing time. The frustrating aftermath of getting lectured about Manning’s integrity and place in the history of the game by the same pandering press corps who has sharpened its knives for Brady will overshadow any fun had in the moment.
Good for Manning. He gets to go out the way only John Elway ever has. But let’s not get stupid about what the win means. He now has as many Super Bowl wins as his little brother. Neat-o.
Brady and Joe Montana are members of a private club, and Manning is too old at this stage of his career to run an end-around in order to find the key to the back door.
Not that people won’t try to let him in. They already have, and we’ve only just begun.
Is five still more than two? Just checking for future reference.
Super Bowl 50 in photos