There is a formula we as fans have developed over the years when it comes to determining a quarterback’s success. I call it, “The Formula for Greatness.” It sounds extremely complex, I know. But try and stick with me. The formula is as followed:
Rings. If you can’t get rings, then you have to win MVP’s. If you can’t win MVP’s, then you have to get Division titles. If you can’t get titles, then you have to get winning seasons. And if you can’t get winning seasons, then you better break records. Because if none of these things happen, you are irrelevant, at least in the eyes of this above-average sports fan.
The remaining four quarterbacks in the 2016 playoffs, Cam Newton, Carson Palmer, Peyton Manning, and Tom Brady, have one or more qualifications listed above that contributes to their legacy. But which quarterback would benefit the most from a Super Bowl 50 win? Here’s a look:
4. Cam Newton
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Cam Newton has made his case for MVP this year from start to finish. He posted career highs in passing touchdowns (35) and passer rating (99.4) and had a career low in interceptions (10). Not only did he have individual success, but he led the Panthers to a franchise best 15-1 season. All of this without his top weapon in Kelvin Benjamin, who he lost before the season kicked off.
Newton has a real shot at pairing the NFL’s MVP award with a Super Bowl ring this season. The last time that occurred was when Kurt Warner led the 1999-2000 version of “The-Greatest-Show-on-Turf,” to the Lombardi Trophy. He has all the tools to do it as well. A top-tier defense, a high-powered offense, and just a desire to win ballgames. Winning a championship along with the league’s most prestigious award isn’t a common thing in today’s NFL, which would contribute greatly to Cam’s young legacy.
His youth is the problem when it comes to the importance of winning Super Bowl 50; that being my reason for placing him fourth on this list. Newton has a stout, young defense and is just now starting to enter into his prime. Next season, Cam will still have his safety-net in Greg Olsen, get Kelvin Benjamin back from injury, and if the ownership is smart, he will be receiving another solid wideout in free agency or the draft to add to his arsenal. Whether he wins SB50 or not, Cam has a bright future filled with jewelry ahead of him.
3. Carson Palmer
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Carson Palmer revived his and several other Arizona Cardinals’ careers this year. Palmer led the Cardinals to a record of 13-3, an NFL leading 6,533 yards of total offense, and scored 489 points, behind only the Carolina Panthers. Palmer actually had equal, if not better passing stats than Newton, posting a nice 104.6 passer rating, racking up 4,671 passing yards, and throwing for 35 touchdowns.
There’s a lot of number crunching there, but Palmer has always been the quarterback who is, well, slightly above-average. In his 12 year career, Palmer has thrown for more than 28 touchdowns just twice and has thrown for more than 20 interceptions three times. And let’s just theoretically say that Arizona loses this Sunday in Charlotte and he retires the next day (don’t worry Arizona fans. There have been, to my knowledge, no reports of this happening). What will you remember about Carson Palmer’s career?
What I will remember, is the fact that he was just one of MANY number one overall draft picks to not be worth the number one overall pick. No rings, no MVP’s (not even considerations up until this season), and no broken records. He just doesn’t measure up to the fans “formula for greatness,” which unfortunately makes him irrelevant. But even if he does win Super Bowl 50, it won’t dramatically change the way most people view him as a quarterback. He would no longer be, “the quarterback that never panned out.” He would just become, “the quarterback who finally broke through.”
2. Peyton Manning
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This second spot really was a tossup for me. I want to see Peyton have the most benefit in a SB50 win, but I just couldn’t see myself putting him above Tom Brady (which we’ll get to shortly). You’ll have to bear with me on this one.
Manning obviously had the most bipolar year of his career. He was statistically awful, but he managed to win. I don’t even want to bother bringing it up a whole lot. But I have to give credit where credit is due, and what the Kansas City Chiefs have done to the careers of Tom Brady and Peyton Manning the past two seasons is, in the words of the great Stephen A. Smith, “BLASPHEMOUS.”
In a thrashing of the Patriots on a beautiful Monday Night in Arrowhead Stadium in 2014, and in a Bronco beat-down on a brisk November afternoon in Mile High this past season, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning’s combined stats against the Chiefs are as followed: 14 of 43, 194 yards, 1 touchdown, and 6 interceptions. That just doesn’t happen to these two quarterbacks. Bill Belichick benched Brady that night, and everyone thought he was done. But just ask the Seattle Seahawks how that season ended up for Mr. Brady. Manning was benched that afternoon in Denver even after breaking the all-time passing yards record. Not only was he benched for the remainder of that game, but he was benched for seven straight weeks. And yet, he won a playoff game last week.
Even with what all happened this season, what more could you want from Manning’s career? He has a ring. He has an astonishing fiveMVP’s. He has countless division titles. And has broken almost every career passing record. Manning is a lock for the Hall-of-Fame, and a ring in his (almost guaranteed) final season would be the cherry on top of an outstanding career. But let’s be honest. When it comes to Peyton, the only benefit he has in winning Super Bowl 50 is having just as many rings as his brother, Eli.
1. Tom Brady
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Many argue that Tom Brady shouldn’t be at the top of this list because he already has established his legacy. He has the rings. He has the MVP’s. He has records. What would another ring mean to Brady? My answer to that is I don’t necessarily believe this season is about getting a fifth ring for Tom. I think this season is about all the “haters” he has had to face.
Brady is out for blood. More specifically, Roger Goodell’s blood.
Basically, what I saw this past offseason in regards to “Deflategate” is there were indeed under inflated footballs during the Patriots playoff victory over the Colts. Whether Tom, or anyone else in the Patriots organization, knew about it or not is up in the air.
But I saw Roger Goodell suspend Tom Brady for the first four games of the NFL season (which I believe was an attempt to ruin the Patriots season), and I saw the judge approve Brady’s appeal. Then I saw Brady absolutely tear up the league and now is competing for yet another championship. And what I think Tom wants out of this season is far bigger than a ring.
Brady wants Goodell to have to hand him the Lombardi Trophy. Period.
In an attempt to ruin his season, nothing would give Brady more of a thrill than taking the trophy from Roger Goodell’s hands in back-to-back years.
As I have said in my previous blog, we watch sports from our sofas. We, as fans, get no benefit from our team winning the Super Bowl besides bragging rights and Super Bowl gear.
Tom Brady gets the most benefit because it’s not about us; it’s about Brady and Brady only.
So, Sofa Scribers, which quarterback do you think will benefit the most by winning the Super Bowl?
Please share your views.