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By Drew Markol, TSN Contributor - Archive - Email
Nobody asked me, but...
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Why do I keep going back and forth in my head about who is the better quarterback, Peyton or Eli Manning?

It has to be Peyton, right? He passes the sight test. By that, I mean if you watch both of them play, Peyton looks better.

He's running up and down the line of scrimmage, barking out something and patting his helmet like it doesn't fit right.

And when he does it, it looks cool. And he wins.

You don't get much, if any of that, from Eli. But he wins, too. Bigger games even.

Now, Peyton is a free agent. And the mania surrounding where he'll wind up is never ending. He's being called one of the most-sought-after free agents ever. One of? Who has ever been more sought after? Nobody. Maybe Babe Ruth, I guess, but he wasn't a free agent. He was just sold to the Yankees because the Red Sox were broke.

What would it be like if Eli was the free agent and Peyton was still an Indianapolis Colt? Would it be anywhere close mania-wise to the whole Peyton deal? I don't think so.

The career numbers are not that far off.

In 208 games over 14 seasons, Peyton has thrown for nearly 55,000 yards and 399 touchdowns.

Eli, in 121 games (eight seasons), has 27,579 passing yards and 185 touchdowns.

Peyton - 198 interceptions. Eli - 129.

Of course, Peyton has won four MVP awards. Nobody else has ever done that. Eli doesn't have any.

But the one stat that truly matters belongs to Eli and that's how many rings. Eli has won two Super Bowls and played really well in both of them.

Peyton has one Super Bowl and he did it in the pouring rain in Miami, a game he couldn't really even strut his stuff because of the weather.

Now, Eli has had better defenses than Peyton ever did and that never hurts. Still, though, Eli's team twice beat the iconic New England Patriots, the first time when the Patriots were going for a perfect season. And Eli will have many more chances to complete the hat trick.

As for Peyton, even if his neck holds up, he may only two or three more seasons.

In the end, maybe we just need to go to the source, who was the proud big brother then and still seems to be now.

I'll never forget talking with Peyton just a few weeks before the 1998 NFL Draft when he was in Philadelphia to receive the Maxwell Award for being the best player in college football.

When the inevitable question arose about being compared to his father, Archie, the son gave a very telling answer.

"My dad was really good on some teams that didn't have that much success. And I hope wherever I end up, we can win," Peyton said.

"But wait until you see my little brother plays. His name is Eli and he's going to be the best one out of all of us."

Eli was a high school sophomore at the time.

"He's way further along than I was at the same age," Peyton added. "It's going to be fun to watch him get older and better and better."

Hard to argue that. But I keep coming back to what my eyes tell me. It will always be Peyton.

For further proof, and for what is perhaps the ultimate litmus test, I turn to family.

My dear mother can name one NFL player, Peyton Manning. If Eli lived next door to her, she wouldn't know what he did for a living unless he told her.

It might always be that way regardless of what Eli does. And you have to feel a little bad for him because of it.



Drew Markol has been a sportswriter and columnist for several newspapers in the Philadelphia area for more than 25 years.

Copyright 2012