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Tale of the tape: Peyton Manning vs. Archie Manning
By Alex Laracy
MondayNightFootball.com

Perhaps no young NFL player has a brighter future than Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning. In only his third year as a pro, the prodigy from Tennessee has already established himself as perhaps the best quarterback in the league. While his Colts are a disappointing 7-6 this season, Manning currently leads the NFL with 3,792 yards passing and 28 touchdown passes, and his popularity has skyrocketed to a level that has made the city of Indianapolis cool. Well, almost.

Archie Manning played on some of the worst teams in NFL history.

Peyton's father, Archie, played quarterback for the (then) lowly New Orleans Saints from 1971 to 1982, followed by a few forgettable years with the Houston Oilers and Minnesota Vikings. While an excellent quarterback in his own right, the elder Manning played on awful teams, and thus forever possesses the dubious distinction of being the best player on a franchise whose fans invented the practice of attending games with brown paper bags over their heads.

Of course, Archie's unique circumstances on top of Peyton having only three years of experience under his belt makes it silly to compare the father and son duo. But because we love to harp on useless information and senseless comparisons, that's what we did.

Arm strength
Archie: Although he didn't possess the strongest cannon of his time, the 6-foot-3, 215 pounder rarely had problems getting enough zip on the ball. In fact, less knowledgeable fans assumed Manning was simply throwing too hard after Saints routinely dropped passes that would hit them square in the chest.

Peyton: The young Colt will never be mistaken for John Elway, but he throws a powerful deep ball that's as accurate and timely as any quarterback in football.

Edge: Peyton. Both are pure passers with above average arm strength, but the young one could eventually go down as one of the best passers ever, as opposed to Archie, who's gone down as the Saints' best passer ever. Who's second? Billy Joe Tolliver? Bobby Hebert?

Supporting cast
Archie: Outside of running backs Chuck Muncie in 1979 and George Rogers in 1981, Archie's backfield mates in the '70s represent the who's who in the world of who the hell is that? Jim "Not so" Strong, Alvin Maxson "and relaxin'," someone named Bob Gresham ... You get the picture. Until Wes Chandler's arrival in 1979, the performance of wideouts like Bob Newland, John Beasley and Jack Holmes left many wondering if Manning was purposely throwing interceptions just so someone would catch his passes.

Peyton: With the best young running back in football (Edgerrin James) sharing his backfield and one of the top five receivers in the league (Marvin Harrison) flanking him, Peyton couldn't have put together a better offensive supporting cast in a rotisserie league. Second and third wideouts Jerome Pathon and Terrence Wilkins are diminutive, but explosive, and keep getting better. On top of all this, tight end Ken Dilger is among the league's best, and Manning's offensive line isn't half bad either.

Edge: Peyton. The Saints' plan of rebuilding around Archie Manning wasn't a bad concept, but seemed pointless as it took place every single year.

Big games
Archie: Over 13 years in the NFL, Archie Manning played in as many playoff games as Archie Bunker. He really didn't even come close. At least you can't call him a choker.

Peyton: After going 13-3 in 1999, Manning was less than outstanding in a 19-16 loss to the Super Bowl bound Tennessee Titans during the AFC divisional playoffs, completing 19-of-43 passes for 227 yards and no TDs.

Edge: Tie. As of now, the Mannings have really yet to ever win a big game in the pros, however, the safe bet here is that once Peyton's career is over, he'll take one or two Super Bowl MVP trophies with him to Canton.

Image
Archie: Nowadays, the quarterback of a losing team has to send his kids to school with a handful of well-armed bodyguards. But during the Saints' reign of dreadfulness, football fans in the Big Easy embraced the sympathy-evoking Manning for his loyalty and persistent effort, though it was essentially pointless.

Peyton: The golden one's image is so squeaky clean, he makes Jacksonville quarterback/super-Christian Mark Brunell look like O.D.B. The NFL's No. 1 poster boy understands his sky-high market value in a league that desperately needs him. However, the Richie Cunningham gig may only last another year or two before people start yawning.

Edge: Tie. Peyton has certainly already surpassed Archie in mass appeal, but until he starts captaining his team deep into the postseason, his image remains clean, but stale. Archie's was one of the tough-luck nice guys who never gave up.

Mobility
Archie: One of the most mobile quarterbacks during an era where mobility was not a highly valued attribute in quarterbacks, Archie's improvisational style would probably suit him better in today's game.

Peyton: Although he shows a unique ability to elude pass rushers, Peyton only leaves the pocket when he has to, and the Colts are just fine with that.

Edge: Archie. He had little choice but to move well, as a good portion of the offensive lines he played behind generally used the famed matador style of pass blocking, since adopted by both the Patriots and the Chargers.

Final score:
Peyton 2, Archie 1, 2 ties: Time will tell whether or not Peyton will overcome the bittersweet career of his father's, but it did take him only two seasons to accomplish what Archie never did -- lead his team to a winning season and trip to the playoffs. This tale of the tape isn't as close as the score -- Peyton's place will likely be Canton if he continues to put up numbers that are even comparable to those of his first three years in the league.



 
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