The All Time Greatest Colts Quarterback of Debate Verdict

August 12, 2010

Read the opposing arguments from Babe Ruthless and Loyal Homer.

Choosing between Johnny Unitas and Peyton Manning is no easy task!

I had hoped to get in touch with Rabbi Pinto for some counsel in this quandary, but apparently the Rabbi had been called away for some other so-called critical business meeting. Having struck out there, I thought I’d go to Brandon Phillips and Yadier Molina to see if they could help me choose between the two. Unfortunately, they couldn’t agree on a winner either (the conversation got a little heated), and even after their friends got into the debate there was no resolution.

In the end, I was left to the challenge of choosing between the arguments from Loyal Homer and Babe Ruthless on my own. And so I am awarding this verdict to – Babe Ruthless.

Aside from the fact that Manning apparently walks on water during his free time, Babe Ruthless brought up some very important points about Manning’s production that, no matter how Loyal Homer tried to spin it, were irrefutable.

As far as raw production is concerned between Manning and Unitas, I was skeptical of Babe Ruthless’ contention that Manning was better simply because he passed for more yards. Like Loyal Homer, I recognized the fact that Manning, whose entire career has been played in a league where the season spans 16 games, had greater opportunity to pass for more yards. As such, it is only natural that Manning should have greater raw production.

But even after taking into consideration the fact that Unitas played in fewer games each season than Manning, he was still outperformed by Manning on a very consistent basis.

Over his career Unitas averaged for only 190.7 passing yards per game, while Manning averages 261.1 yards per game. Based on those averages, if Unitas DID play in 16 games each season, his career best season still would have only been 3,862 yards… a performance that surpasses only two of Manning’s seasons (one of which was his rookie year).

In arguing on Unitas’ behalf, Loyal Homer points to the fact that Manning has won only one championship, while Unitas has won three. Once more, though, it is important to take into consideration how much the game has changed between the eras in which Unitas and Manning played.

Although Unitas won two additional championships, the context for how those championships were won must be taken into consideration. For Unitas’ championships in 1958 and 1959, they were the result of playing in only one post-season game in a league of only 12 teams.

Compare that reduced league size to the reality of competing for a championship in the NFL today. The league now has 32 teams, and the championship is awarded over a post-season that spans not one, but four weeks.

Consider this fact – in 17 seasons Unitas led his teams to only six post-season appearances while Manning led his teams to ten post-season appearances in a 13-year span. Within those ten post-season appearances, Manning won at least one game four different times. By 1958-1959 standards, where only one post-season game was played, that would equate to four different NFL championships.

That does not change the fact that Unitas was the quarterback of those two championship teams, but it does put into perspective just how great the accomplishment was.

Finally, consider this: before the conclusion of the 2009 Super Bowl, there was talk of Peyton Manning possibly becoming the greatest quarterback, not only in Colts’ history, but in the entire history of the NFL. Granted the Colts lost that Super Bowl game, but one game – no matter what the stage is – is hardly enough to change a person’s legacy from being potentially the greatest of all time to not even being considered the greatest to have ever played for his team. How can Manning be considered as the greatest quarterback of all time if he isn’t even the greatest quarterback to play for his own franchise?

Peyton Manning has had far greater challenges laid in front of him, and he has performed at a correspondingly better level than Johnny Unitas when responding to each of those challenges. He has been recognized as being the Most Valuable Player in the league more times than Unitas, and has produced at a better game-for-game rate.

While Unitas may technically have more championships to his name, Manning’s superior overall performance has earned him the title of the Greatest Colts Quarterback of All Time.

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The Best Game To Watch THIS Weekend Debate – Will History Repeat Itself?

October 2, 2009

Read Sports Geek’s and Loyal Homer’s arguments about the which game this weekend is the one that you CANNOT miss.

August 14th, 1959 is a very important date in professional football history.

For years up to that point, the NFL and its 12 franchises dominated the world of professional football in America. On that fateful night, however, a group of men met to change the course of America’s premier football league forever. It was on that night that the American Football League (AFL) was born.

The AFL, which would kick off its inaugural season in 1960, was founded by a group of eight men (including Hall of Famer Lamar Hunt, Tennessee Titans owner Bud Adams, and Buffalo Bills owner/Hall of Famer Ralph Wilson Jr.) who each agreed to develop their own brand of professional football. The first eight teams for the fledgling league were the Boston Patriots, Buffalo Bills, Dallas Texans, Denver Broncos, Houston Oilers, Los Angeles Chargers, New York Titans, and the Oakland Raiders (do those teams sound familiar?). These eight teams would play their own schedule, declare their own champion, and would attempt to compete in the market with the NFL’s well-established franchises like Cleveland, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Chicago, and Green Bay.

When the AFL was created no one paid much attention, and even fewer took the league seriously. In fact, many people felt the idea was so ridiculous that the eight founders of the league became known as the “Foolish Club.”

It was the “Foolish Club” that had the last laugh, though, as the AFL would soon develop into a very successful rival league and earn not only the respect of the NFL, but eventually earn equal status.

In 1966, just six short years after the creation of this league, the AFL merged with the NFL, and the Super Bowl era was born. The two separate leagues, which have since been renamed as the AFC and NFC, respectively, would each declare a separate champion. Those two champions would then play in the Super Bowl matchup to determine a world champion annually.

In 2009, the NFL is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the AFL. As fate would have it, history may be on the verge of repeating itself.

Last year, a group of like-minded people got together – just like the AFL founders of 50 years prior – and decided it was time for a new rival league, which has since been named the  United Football League (UFL). This league will have many of the same rules of the NFL, and will be targeted primarily to markets that are “underserved” by the NFL. The league will feature four teams, over the course of a six-game season, and the four teams are the Las Vegas Locomotives, California Redwoods, Florida Tuskers, and New York Sentinels.

Just as the AFL struggled for respect early in its existence, the UFL has been laughed off as a joke that will likely go the way of the World Football League, NFL Europe, and the XFL. The one advantage that the UFL has that those other leagues did not, is that there are NFL caliber players and coaches who have “defected” into the UFL. From the executive ranks down to the players, the UFL is heavily staffed with people who bring a wealth of successful experience drawn from time spent in the NFL.

League commissioner, Michael Huyghue, left a 20-year career in the NFL to take on the role as UFL Commissioner. As for the four head coaches – Jim Fassel, Jim Haslett, Dennis Green, and Ted Cottrell – they bring more than 50 years of NFL coaching experience into the UFL.

The talent on the field is also full of NFL-caliber names. A few of those players are:

Tatum Bell

Az-Zahir Hakim

J.P. Losman

Simeon Rice

Koren Robinson

LaBrandon Toefield

There are no guarantees that the UFL will reach the same heights that the AFL managed to 50 years ago, but the founders of the league have done everything in their power to give the UFL the best possible opportunity for success, and this week the UFL will finally get the opportunity to prove its worth!

The UFL will officially kick-off with its inaugural game on October 8th, with a matchup between the Las Vegas Locomotives and the California Redwoods. If you are laughing at the seemingly ridiculous nature of that matchup, remember that is exactly what NFL fans said 50 years ago about a matchup between the Denver Broncos and the Boston Patriots. It might have been a joke then, but 50 years later… can you imagine an NFL WITHOUT the Broncos or Patriots?

Could this game become a pivotal turning point in NFL history? I guess we will just have to watch and find out!

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