Super Bowl 50: Regardless of outcome, Tom Brady still G.O.A.T.

Tom Brady Patriots

Jan 24, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) and Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) talk after the AFC Championship football game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

No, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots are not suiting up this evening in Super Bowl 50. The Patriots lost to Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos fair and square two weeks ago. But even if Manning leads the Broncos to victory in what appears to be his final NFL game, Brady will still go down as the greatest quarterback in league history.

The Brady vs. Manning debate could fill a semester-long college course, so this writer isn’t going to bore you with every last argument for Brady. But what is being highlighted here is that a win in Super Bowl 50 over the Carolina Panthers would give Manning his second Lombardi Trophy in four tries, a feat that Brady accomplished in his fourth season.

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In other words, the 39-year-old Manning is trying to do something Brady did when he was 27.

Seeing as how a quarterback’s success is measured so closely by his performance on the biggest stage by the mainstream sports media—in other words, the more Super Bowls you win, the better your standing is in the greatest of all-time conversation—Brady still trumps Manning even if the Papa John’s-munching passer pilots the Broncos to victory. That would give Manning two rings, a total that is doubled by Brady.

Opponents always point to Brady’s Super Bowl losses to the New York Giants in 2007 and 2011 as reasons why he shouldn’t be given the G.O.A.T. nod. For crying out loud, that’s the same number of losses Manning has been dealt in the big game (with the possibility of a third coming tonight).

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Additionally, the fact that the Patriots defeated a Seattle Seahawks team in Super Bowl XLIX that was nearly identical to the squad that trounced Manning and the Broncos a season earlier speaks for itself. The 2013 and 2014 Seahawks can be viewed in the same light, and Brady performed eons better against them than Manning did.

Last but not least is the fact that even though he’s turning 39 this summer, Brady is in much better standing to play well into his forties than Manning. And at a higher level, it should be noted. Brady’s arm and general physical state is much better than Manning’s was at his age. With a few extra seasons to play, Brady has a window of opportunity to further the gap between him and Manning in this conversation.

Patriots fans may be frustrated that their team isn’t playing tonight, but at least they can rest easy knowing that even if Manning emerges victorious, Brady will go down as the best quarterback this league has ever seen.