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ESPN Puts Peyton Manning 3rd and Tom Brady Last on Their 'Dominant 20' List

Dominant 20 a

Dominant 20 b

ESPN the Magazine put together this ranking of the Dominant 20 to celebrate their 20th anniversary issue. And the fact that they put the most deserving athlete last on their list and 17th behind Peyton Manning not only doesn’t bother me in the slightest, I actually love it. The fact we’re still having this discussion is oddly charming by now. Adorable, even. There’s just something quaint about people who hold on to old, outdated dogma that’s been long since disproven just because it was once considered true.

Saying Peyton had a better career than Brady is like a Born Again saying the Earth is 5,000 years old because the Bible tells him so. It’s William Hayes on Hard Knocks believing mermaids are real but dinosaurs weren’t. It’s Kyrie Irving and all the other Flat Earthers. Sure, you could show them satellite photos or hold a basketball up next to a lamp and explain how night and day works. But why bother? Just be entertained by the utterly twisted illogic of it all.

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Like for instance, I could argue against ESPN’s twisted reasoning on this. How they furiously pleasure themselves over the fact their Chosen One retired with the most wins in NFL history, while having to grudgingly concede Brady shattered it and keeps adding to his total. Or how he retired with the passing yards record, without mentioning he’s about to be overtaken by Drew Brees. I could point out that in the 20 years we’re talking about, there has been only one NFL team that hasn’t drafted a wide receiver in the first round, the one that has been sending Brady a W-2 all this time. But most importantly, there’s no mention at all about what really counts on a list like this: The postseason.

Manning:

Manning playoffs

Brady:

Brady playoff stats

Even those numbers are skewed by the fact Manning was carried like a cadaver to a 3-0 record in his final season by an elite Denver defense, arguably the worst season ever by a championship quarterback. While Brady threw for 971 yards in his most recent two Super Bowls and thanks to his defense has a 1-1 record to show for it.

But the only stat we need to know is this: Over the course of their careers, there has been a much better chance that Peyton Manning would fail to win a playoff game (11 times in 17 seasons, 64.7%) than Tom Brady would fail to carry his team to a Super Bowl (8 times in 16 seasons, 50%). That alone should put him at the top of a list that’s supposed to be about celebrating winners. I mean, Tiger is No. 1 in this ranking and he got there by winning Majors, not posting impressive Greens-in-Reg stats at the Wells Fargo Championship.

But again, I’m not arguing the point. Telling ESPN the Manning vs. Brady debate was settled about 10 years ago is like telling your 6-year-old not to believe in fairies and unicorns. As long as it makes them happy, it’s better to just sit back and appreciate the happy delusion of it all.

@jerrythornton1