, Salem, MA


January 17, 2014

Matt Jenkins column: The Brady-Manning debate is unnecessary

Throughout the history of professional athletics, fans have dreamed of fantasy matchups pitting the greatest of all time in head-to-head matchups — as if the debates that rage on could somehow put a definitive stamp on who, ultimately, is the best ever in one particular sport.

Currently, it’s hard to escape the Michael Jordan-LeBron James argument. Jordan, he of six rings, 10 scoring titles and an evolving game that saw him mature from a high-flying freak of nature to a cerebral assassin, never had a true match on the court. But he’s somehow found a hypothetical match in King James, a physical freak of nature in his own right who has only scratched the surface of his potential.

How awesome would it be to see a 30-year-old Jordan come back to battle James one-on-one today?

What about hockey? What die-hard hockey fan wouldn’t love to see players like Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemeiux, Bobby Orr and Gordie Howe play head-to-head in their primes? In fact, let’s empty the ice and put each one of them through a series of skill competitions and end this debate right now.

In baseball, we could tackle two topics at the same time. We could line up Tom Seaver, Bob Gibson, Sandy Koufax and Nolan Ryan and see how they handle Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio. Best pitcher and best hitter could be decided in the same afternoon.

Of course, until science intervenes and discovers a way to bring people back to their youth, these arguments are pointless, not to mention nonsensical because it’s hard to agree on the definition of greatness.

Yet, here we sit just two days before the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots meet in the AFC Championship game, again wondering which quarterback is better: the Broncos’ Peyton Manning or the Patriots’ Tom Brady.

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