Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 1/29/13
It's always difficult compare players from different eras. The game changes over the years, in some cases with rule changes, so that it differs from one season to the next.We have 'Teams of the Decade' to categorize the eras a bit easier, and of course some teams have their own dynasty period of success.Debate will always rage on as to who is the best player at his particular position. How is that determined? The amount of Super Bowl wins, or appearances in the end of season showpiece? How about the amount of touchdowns thrown and yards passed?Statistically speaking the modern passer should always hold the upper edge over their colleagues from the early years of the Super Bowl. Of course there are exceptions, but its hard to find quarterbacks who consistently put up huge numbers in the big game.Tom Brady then has an enormous head start over the man who i claim to be better when the Lombardi Trophy was at stake. His numbers are there to see. Nine touchdown passes over his five trips to the Super Bowl, only two interceptions. Almost 1,300 yards gained through the air, with an approximately 65 percent of his passes complete. Of course he has won three and lost two title games.How then can John Elway compare to that?The numbers don't add up. Only three touchdowns to eight interceptions, the yards aren't there either, only half of his passes complete. The wins are even reversed with two championships won and three lost.The case for Elway is as follows.He had to stand and watch Phil Simms lead the New York Giants to a 39-20 win in Super Bowl XXI. He did however have his Broncos in the lead at halftime, with a short touchdown run. Late in the game when the dust had settled on Simms' great display he had enough in the tank to throw a long scoring pass. He still managed to throw for over 300 yards.One year later he had the Broncos in a great position at the end of the first quarter 10-0 up over the Washington Redskins, after another long touchdown pass. Sadly this was to be the only points Denver scored in a 42-10 loss. In this loss he threw for 257 yards.Two years later it wasn't any better, a 55-10 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. He managed another touchdown run in this game. Elway was no quitter.Would Tom Brady have faired any better against these powerhouse opponents? The NFC was so dominant in the late 1980's, early 90's that any team that came up against their representative would have been crushed. I'd go as far to say that no team now would have lived with any of those NFC teams from that time.Not only did John Elway battle through those games, and keep his wits about him enough to produce late scores, he was learning on the job. Each defeat was bigger and hurt more.Theres nothing more powerful than a hurt future Hall of Fame quarterback.Eight years later, after many near misses and hard work, Elway was back on the big stage. Nothing was going to deny him this time, not even Brett Favre and his Green Bay Packers.The Packers were going for a repeat. Elway was going for redemption.Another short touchdown run in the game. A highlight reel kamikaze run that almost broke him in two as he vaulted two defenders and was spun around. A closing score of 31-24, meant that almost a decade after his last Super Bowl he finally had his hands of the Lombardi Trophy. For good measure he backed it up a year later against the Atlanta Falcons. Elway ran for another score, one which put the game out of reach for the Falcons. A final of 34-19 was enough to ensure Elway, who retired straight after the game, would enter the Hall of Fame as his first eligible year.In contrast Tom Brady's Super Bowl career is going backwards. Having won his first three outings he is now in a slump. The New York Giants, and Eli Manning seem to have his number, and with time against him in his quest for one more ring its hard to see him actually getting back to the Super Bowl with the rest of the AFC adapting to his Patriots way of play.In summary - as stated before Brady would not have done any better than Elway in those earlier games, and as hard as it is to compare the modern game to back then, I really don't see the Brady we know, coming back the way Elway did almost ten years later to win it all. 
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