Peyton and Eli Manning were both number one overall picks. They both played their college ball in the SEC (the toughest conference in College football). They both have fulfilled the expectations and obligations of being, not only franchise quarterbacks, but number one overall picks. My question is, "who has had the better career?"
The criteria for a great career has changed over the last twenty years. I believe it truly began with Michael Jordan. He was in the midst of becoming the best player in the world and could not beat the Detroit Pistons. Magic, Larry and Isiah had dominated the NBA for over a decade. They had ten championships between them. It was largely looked upon, that if Jordan couldn't win a championship, how could he be crowned the best in the world. Well, we all know how that story went. He went on to win six rings. He set a precedent that if your going to be considered the best, then surely you can lead your team to the title. So, the best became associated with how many rings AND your level of production. Hence, the public ridicule of Lebron James, Barry Bonds and Donovan McNabb. All men who produced extremely well statistically, but were unable to produce championships.
Now back to my question. "Who's had the better career?" Statistically, without question Peyton is the clear favorite. Eli has only played 8 years to Peyton's 13 years. With that said, just looking at Peyton's first 8 years, he still was very impressive. 2 MVP'S, 6 Pro Bowls, 5-time All-Pro and led the league in TD passes twice. However, his playoff record was 3-6 with no Super Bowl appearances. In contrast, in his last five years, he was 6-4 in the playoffs with 2 Super Bowl appearances and 1 win. He also continued to have prodigious personal accomplishments. 2 more MVP'S, 5 more Pro Bowls, 2 more All-Pro's and a Super Bowl MVP. I felt like if he had beaten the Saints in the '09 Super Bowl, he had a claim for best QB ever. 4 MVP'S, 11 time Pro Bowler and 5 time All-Pro are unreal accolades for a career.
Eli has had a very good start to his career. In this day and age, QB's are judged more harshly than in previous generations. The emphasis on passing, the intricacies of offenses and the responsibility of being the face of a franchise are astronomical in today's hyper-media society. Only 2 Pro Bowls and twice leading the league in INT's hasn't helped his reputation in sports crazed NY and with those making comparisons to his brother. 2 Super Bowl wins, 2 Super Bowl MVP's and an 8-3 playoff record is what is so interesting.
I have watched sports intensely over the last twenty years. The thing that I have grown to appreciate more than anything is performance in the big moment. Coming to work everyday is admirable ( Peyton's games played streak is remarkable), but I want to see what your made of when the chips are down. Peyton has struggled with that scenario, since his days at Tennessee. He couldn't beat Florida. He couldn't beat the Patriots or the Steelers or the Chargers. He has struggled in big moments. Eli has thrived in them. Two fourth quarter comebacks versus Peyton's arch-nemesis Bill Belichick and contemporary Tom Brady on the biggest stage. He has done what Peyton could not consistently do; win when it mattered the most. It pains me, but for that reason, I would take Eli over Peyton, in terms of having a better career. I truly appreciate Eli's resilience and perseverance. Who would've thunk it! Eli over Peyton.