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Sports Thursday: Brady better than Manning?

Got sports on the mind! It’s important to follow the games, to root for your teams. You should root even if you don’t care. If necessary, just stare at the little shapes on the TV screen as they move randomly, possibly chasing a ball, and reacting to various whistles and buzzers. Although you don’t know what’s going on you should occasionally shout, kvetch and snivel, because in the act of being a sports fan we channel primitive urges that might otherwise be directed toward more destructive activities, such as “accidentally” ramming another shopper’s cart at the Safeway.

Among the many people who did not watch the Washington Wizards beat the Miami Heat last night at Verizon Center were the players on the Miami Heat. Read the Mike Wise column: The Heat didn’t try. They did make one run in the 3rd quarter, but otherwise they took the night off.

Still, it was a glorious triumph for the Wizzes, an epic performance that will go down in the annals of athletic achievement right there next to Secretariat at the Belmont winning the Triple Crown in a runaway. The only asterisk is that, if you looked very closely at the game, you noticed that LeBron James was wearing bedroom slippers. D-Wade was in a smoking jacket. You knew the Heat didn’t come to play when Chris Bosh spent the entire first quarter getting a pedicure. This was a strategic non-effort, marked on the calendar weeks ago as Nap Time.

Meanwhile, my colleague Cindy Boren says that maybe Rob Ryan, defensive coordinator for the New Orleans Saints, can’t get a job as a head coach because of his hair. He’s got too much hair. He’s got what you call a mane. Owners and general managers, apparently, don’t want to hire a guy who looks like he’s about to pillage a hamlet and steal the pigs amid the lamentations of the womenfolk. But I don’t get this at all: You can’t turn on the TV on Sunday without seeing this guy, because the camera loves him, and we live in a society that’s all about ratings. I think the executives are down on him because his freak flag is so much better than theirs.

Now then: We got some big football this weekend, headlined by the Brady vs. Manning matchup.  I’ve always thought of Peyton Manning as the superior of the two great Hall-bound QBs of this generation. They’re indisputably the Top Two and I have always ranked them Manning first, Brady second — but am now reconsidering. I didn’t realize that Brady had a 10-4 record against Manning over the course of their careers. Also there’s the fact that Brady has THREE Super Bowl rings to Manning’s sad little solitary unitary one.

On the other hand…Manning has, what, FOUR MVPs? Brady has two, which, by my calculation, is barely half as many as Manning’s total. And Manning may win another MVP this year (he threw for 55 touchdowns in the regular season and 5,477 yards — yes those are the all-time records, just ridiculous). (Though still not as impressive as what Marino did in 1984. Discuss.)  The traditional “passer efficiency” rating, which is bogus to begin with (as noted here on the A-blog numerous times), is a wash, with Manning just slightly ahead.

I’m going to stick with Manning as my top QB, but if Brady wins Sunday (with, of course, help from his teammates), and then goes on to win another Super Bowl, the conversation gets trickier. Winning isn’t everything, but neither are statistics and awards. The most important letter in the sports alphabet is “W.”


Joel Achenbach writes on science and politics for the Post's national desk and on the "Achenblog."



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Joel Achenbach · January 14, 2014

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