The NFL is a microcosm of a larger world, where anything new is nicer and people value youth. Anything considered outdated or aged is often cast aside or helped to the finish line.
This past week, NFL pundits were discussing Andrew Luck vs. Tom Brady on a show that I don’t feel like mentioning right now because we give that suspect station enough ink. The question was, “who would you pick if you had to win one game today?”
Here you have a guy in Brady, who has been to five Super Bowls, won three and barely lost the other two. He’s one of the most prolific passers, fiercest competitors and heralded field generals in NFL history and for the past decade some have even called the unheralded sixth-round pick out of Michigan, The G.O.A.T.
Everybody and their mama was a Tom Brady advocate, especially during the Patriots past Super Bowl runs. He was the greatest thing since strawberry-flavored, edible thongs and even the great Peyton Manning with all of his incomparable stat-packing is unable to totally dominate the QB landscape with Brady's championship M.O. always lurking. It was kind of like the winner vs. the winger. The panelists on that show (which we won’t acknowledge), they turned the discussion into a battle between “new meat” and aging vixen.
How quickly our most vocal proponents flip the script.
Over time, Brady has had his share of gaudy stats, but his first Super Bowl win in 2001 has come to exemplify his career. Without any timeouts, Brady led his team down the field to set up kicker Adam Vinatieri's game-winning 48-yard field goal as time expired. Brady, who completed a modest 16 of 27 passes for 145 yards and a touchdown, was named Super Bowl XXXVI MVP. He did just enough and when it counted.
All but one of the five panelists chose Luck, citing his youth as the main reason why they would take him over Tom Terrific in a “must-win” scenario.
It’s typical pack journalism and media maneuvering. Laying the groundwork for a new “face” of the NFL. One to exploit, worship, suck into a black hole of sensationalism and hype for the next generation.
It makes sense. Brady and Manning are pushing 40. Russell Wilson is a bit taller than Nate Robinson. RG3…what did ever happen to that cornball?
Anyway, Luck in all his brilliance, makes the forced transition flow more natural and believable. He is the real deal. He just has to prove it.
Since doing the impossible and making Indianapolis fans forget the iconic Peyton Manning and actually revel in the future of the franchise instead of its glorious past, Luck has been elevated to “next up” status by most of the NFL media mouthpieces.
He hasn’t won a Super Bowl like RW yet, but he has exemplified a rare combination of passing accuracy, toughness, mobility and late-game savvy that makes scouts and coaches salivate. He’s also in the mold of the traditional QB’s; tall, strong-bodied and pocket-passing potent. When you look at him through the historically biased lenses of NFL interpreters, his whole persona screams “NFL Great.” From the scruffy beard to the Stanford background, Luck paints the perfect QB Picasso.
Getting his teammates to raise their play to his level is Luck’s next goal. It’s the advantage Brady still holds.
"We're sharks," declared Revis Island, who tipped one of Luck's darts so teammate Devin McCourty could pick it off. "We smell blood in the water. Each game like this is another step closer to our goal."
The goal is always the same for the Patriots Super Bowl or bust.
That’s the next station of greatness that the NFL’s anointed successor is aspiring too. One in which the system flows so efficiently that you can almost predict the outcome, regardless of the QB’s specific performance.
This is the third barometer game that Luck has faced Brady in and none of them have ended favorably for the newbie, but each has been a valuable lesson in how you go about taking the throne. There are levels to this.
In his first outing at Foxborough during the 2012 regular season, Luck threw three interceptions and ended up with a 63.3 rating amid a 59-24 disaster.
Butt whipping No. 1 dispensed.
Last season, the Patriots picked off Luck four times during their 43-22 laugher in their divisional playoff encounter at Gillette Stadium.
Inaugural playoff matchup ends in the diaper dandy getting put to bed early.
Sunday night’s gridiron grind was as important a game as it gets for a young Colts squad that’s trying to establish an ability to impose its will on AFC opponents. From the looks of things at Lucas Oil Stadium—Brady isn’t ready to let Luck rock-out like that yet, regardless of how much he’s sweating the young buck’s game .
The Pats have 100 percent confidence that before a game is over, Brady will leave his mark on a victory as he did by going 9-of-11 for 173 yards and two touchdowns in the second half of the Pats 42-20 stomping of Luck’s surging Colts on Sunday night, after throwing two nasty first-half picks.
In his previous five games Brady had been playing lights-out with 18 TDs and just one pick. Last night, he needed a little help. He got it from unheralded third-string running back Jonas Gray, who elevated to Tony Dorsett status and rush for a career-high 199 yards and a franchise-record four touchdowns as he did on Sunday. It’s a formula for ultimate success that can only be developed over time and by winning big games and losing big games.
“Whatever it takes,” Brady said. “There’s games that you go into and we’re not sure how well we’re going to run it. But when it’s going well, you just want to keep giving it to them. We try to stay balanced. But if they’re not going to respect the running game, then you have to keep giving it to them.”
Spoken like a true champion, with his eyes on the prize. Most of what Luck is doing now and the new-money praise he’s getting from the NFL world; Brady has been there and done that.
It was a WK 11 regular season game with extreme postseason consequences. Entering Sunday night’s showdown, the Colts were 6-3 in a weak AFC South division, two games ahead of the second-place Houston Texans and appeared to be making that next step toward AFC supremacy.
Led by MVP candidate Luck and his league-leading 3,388 yards passing and T.Y. Hilton who’s blossomed into an elite receiver with 961 yards receiving (fourth in the NFL), a growing legion of observers were picking the Colts to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.
New England was left for dead following its Week 4 debacle on Monday night against the Kansas City Chiefs. After the 41-14 spanking, the Patriots were 2-2 and exhibited an offensive game plan that looked like grandma in sexy lingerie, sporting an apricot facial mask. People were even suggesting that this was the beginning of the end for Brady’s string of elite play which dates back to the turn off the millennium.
This morning, the Colts woke up kicking themselves and the Patriots had the AFC's best record at 8-2 and are riding six straight wins. And despite all of that early banter about Brady’s declining game, he has 24 TDs and just five picks this season with a 102.0 QB rating, his highest in three seasons.
If you peep the stats, the Pats always turn up at this point in the season. Since 2010, New England has a 30-3 record in Weeks 9 through 16. Sunday's victory was a reality check for everybody. The Colts fell to 6-4, and after Denver's shocking loss to the Rams, the Broncos joined Cincinnati and Kansas City with three losses. The Patriots are the only AFC team left with two losses, and they can completely control their postseason seeding.
Message to NFL Nation: If you’re praying for Brady’s downfall so you can boost Andrew Luck, the Colts QB is going to have to do the heavy lifting on that one. NFL QB Kings don’t just lay crowns down by the door and walk away.
It has to be pried from their bare hands by a young gun that is truly equipped for legend-usurping and not a product of the Hollywood shuffle, social media carousel. Luck is fresh, clean and convincing enough to make fans ignore the fact that Manning is tossing annual 50-TD heat in cold Denver, but 37-year-old Brady is still making noise and putting grown man whippings on those ambitious boys.