Epic Carnival | Where Sports and Pop Culture Collide: STEVE YOUNG '92-'98, PEYTON MANNING '03-'07


by wwtb?, Pacifist Viking

From 1992 to 1998, Steve Young was a dominant quarterback. And during that time, he helped lead the 49ers to 14, 10, 13, 11, 12, 13, and 12 regular season wins. He was MVP in 1992 and 1994. And his numbers during that stretch were outstanding: during this seven year period, he led the league in completion percentage five times, touchdown passes four times, and passer rating five times.

During this stretch of dominance for Young, the 49ers also suffered several playoff disappointments. They were 8-6 in the playoffs during this time, which is certainly solid, but they lost three home playoff games during this stretch.

And yet, Steve Young isn't remembered as a frequent playoff choker. He was a great quarterback, putting up out-of-this-world statistics and consistently winning. Mostly, he's not remembered as a choker because he did lead the 49ers to a Super Bowl championship in the 1994 season. There were disappointing playoff losses before and after this season, but the one championship legitimized Young's career, and in history we can appreciate the good he did.

From 2003 to 2007, Peyton Manning was a dominant quarterback. He won MVPs in 2003 and 2004. He led the league in completion percentage and passing yards once, touchdown passes twice, and passer rating three times. He also led the Colts to 12, 12, 14, 12, and 13 wins during this time.

The Colts were a solid 7-4 in the playoffs from '03-'07, but each of those losses was particularly disappointing. Especially galling were home playoff losses to Pittsburgh in the 2005 season and San Diego in the 2007 season.

But we're not going to remember Manning as a choker; the Colts could lose all sorts of playoff games for the rest of Manning's career, and he'll still be remembered as a great quarterback. Like Young, Manning's career as a quarterback was legitimized by a Super Bowl win during the 2006 season.

As you can see, I've drawn a parallel between the prime of Steve Young's career and the prime of Peyton Manning's career. Each put up spectacular statistics, each consistently led their teams to a lot of wins, each won a single Super Bowl (though admittedly it's not fair to discuss Manning as if his career is closed), and each often came up short in the playoffs outside of that Super Bowl season.

Since we've got another week until the Super Bowl, I'll use this week to ask some of those impossible and irrational questions. Who you got? Do you think Young '92-'98 was better than Manning '03-'07, or vice versa? Which quarterback is better, and which quarterback do you think performed better during his prime?

2 comment(s):

DMtShooter said...

I'll take Young for 3 reasons.

1) Young's running ability was just devastating. Manning the Elder is OK for a sneak at the goal line, but otherwise, he gives you little with the legs.

2) Young's stats were compiled outside, in frequently bad weather. Manning spends half of his time in dome sweet dome.

3) I just can't shake the feeling that Young faced tougher competition in the NFC during that era than Manning did in the AFC during his. If nothing else, the NFC just seemed more physical.

(Manning fans can argue that Young ran himself into concussions, thereby shortening his career. I'd agree, but the preference for me isn't career value, but who I'd rather have in a particular game.)

Oh, and here's the piece de resistance... Young performed brilliantly in his Super Bowls. Manning outdueled, um, Rex Grossman.

JDA said...

I think I'd also take Young, although I'm not really sure why. I think it's because if Young's offensive system was frustrated by an excellent defensive game plan, he could still make something happen, while I'm not as confident in Manning's ability to do the same.

DMtShooter - I don't think your "piece de resistance" works at all. Young also only won one Super Bowl as the starter, in which he outdueled, um, Stan Humphries.

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