Manning vs Young: A More Admirable Path?

steve-young

Peyton Manning has been an athletic star since prep school. Always winning and never seeming to face any real challenges. Ok, ok, he was labeled a post season schlep for a few years, but struggling versus not yet obtaining the most-high accolades are not the same. He has had only 2 losing seasons since being in the NFL (10 years). He has won Co-MVP, MVP, and Super Bowl MVP awards. Here is a pretty good list of achievements (you don’t have to read them all):

Major high school awards*

1992, 1993 Louisiana Class 2A MVP

1993 Gatorade Circle of Champions Award

1993 Atlanta TD Club’s Bobby Dodd Award

1993 New Orleans Quarterback Club Player of the Year

1993 Columbus, Ohio Touchdown Club Offensive Player of the Year

1993 Gatorade High School Player of the Year (National)

College awards (just some…)*

1994 SEC Freshman of the Year

1995 First-Team All-SEC

1996 Second-Team All-SEC

1996 Third-Team All-American

1997 Davey O’Brien Award

1997 Johnny Unitas Award

1997 NCAA QB of the Year

NFL awards (just some…)*

NFL MVP (2003 (shared with Steve McNair), 2004, 2008)

1998 NFL All-Rookie First Team

2004 AFC Offensive Player of the Year

2005 Walter Payton Man of the Year Award

2005 Pro Bowl MVP

2007 Super Bowl MVP

Plus he married his college sweetheart. Seriously though, nothing I have read about Peyton smells of serious triumph over adversity. Not to say that talent and success is not born out of character and hard work. But again, I would never categorize Peyton as an underdog.

Steve Young on the other hand has led what reads to be a much more interesting career. Very successful in HS and college, but he was not so successful for many years after that. In 1984, he played a year in the struggling USFL. (He received a 40M annuity which is still paying him money today).

Things got so bad at one point that year that some of the players had to chip in money to pay their bus driver so they could get to a game. In 1985 he was signed into the NFL by the Tampa Bay Bucs. He started there for 2 years and each season they earned an inglorious record of 2-14. Steve was deemed a bust and was traded to the 49ers. It wasn’t until 1987, as Montana’s backup, that he first gained some professional success. He had good stats playing behind Montana and he stayed there for 3 years. He became SF’s starter in 1991, but his starting position was not solidified until 1993 (made ambiguous via the pending return of Montana, personal injuries, and exceptional play by Bono) even though he received the NFL MVP award in 1992.

In 1993 Young lead the 49ers to the playoffs. He passed for over 4,000 yards and was named to the Pro Bowl. 1994 would be his best season. Just under 4,000 yards passing, he surpassed Montana’s single season passer rating (112.8), was named NFL MVP, led his team to a Super Bowl victory, and was named that year’s Super Bowl MVP. The following 3 seasons, 1995-1998, Young lead the 49ers to the playoffs every year. In 1996 and 1997 Young lead the NFL with the highest passer rating and in 1998 with total number of touchdown passes (36).

1999 would see the culmination of many injury plagued years. Young would be on the receiving end of a crushing sack executed by Cardinal’s Aeneas Williams. Young had overcome 6 concussions, but number 7 would be his (on field) last and he would never return to the field of play.

Ok, in all fairness, it would be easy to assemble an awards list as robust as Peyton Manning’s above for Steve Young. And, Young has at least one award that Peyton cannot yet boast: membership in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But what is most impressive to me is the manner in which these achievements were obtained. 1) Through failure, 2) through injuries and pain, and 3) through perseverance and heart. Young’s professional life was a true inspiration.

(PS Young didn’t get married until the ripe old age of 39.)

*These stats obtained by piece from Wikipedia


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5 Responses to “Manning vs Young: A More Admirable Path?”

  1. Mike Pietras says:

    First if all there are some inconsistencies with your portrayal of Steve Young’s accomplishments. (See Below)

    “1994 would be his best season. Just under 4,000 yards passing, he surpassed Montana’s single season passer rating (112.8), was named NFL MVP ”
    Peyton Manning bested the above accomplishment in 2004 when he posted what is arguably the best season ever for an NFL QB when he threw 49 TD’s to only 10 Int’s resulting in a 121.1 passer rating (new record). Additionally, he was named MVP of the NFL.

    “In 1993 Young lead the 49ers to the playoffs.” “The following 3 seasons, 1995-1998, Young lead the 49ers to the playoffs every year.”
    Again, this was bested by Manning by reaching the playoffs 9 times (so far) (`99, `00, `02-`08) and 7 consecutive times (another NFL Record).

    “He passed for over 4,000 yards and was named to the Pro Bowl. 1994 would be his best season. Just under 4,000 yards passing.”
    Again, this mark was obliterated by Manning by passing for over 4000 yds nine times (so far) in the years `99, `00, `01, `02, `03, `04, `06, `07, `08. Yet another record was broken by completing this mark 6 consecutive times.

    “Young has at least one award that Peyton cannot yet boast: membership in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.”
    This is only because Manning is still in the prime of his career. If he retired tomorrow, he would be a first ballot HOF’er without doubt. He will likely end his career as the best to have ever played the position.

    “But what is most impressive to me is the manner in which these achievements were obtained. 1) Through failure, 2) through injuries and pain, and 3) through perseverance and heart. Young’s professional life was a true inspiration.”
    1)Peyton failed several times in the playoffs before capturing the Lombardy Trophy, 2)Peyton played the first 5 games of the `08 season through the pain of a surgically repaired knee that was healed, 3)Peyton was trashed by the media, labeled as a choker, and, more was expected of Manning because his father was a former NFL great.

    Nothing against Steve Young, he was an outstanding QB who broke out of Joe Montana’s shadow when given the opportunity. He was a charismatic leader, that defined a champion, but he’s no Peyton Manning. He may end his career as being the best to ever play the position.

  2. Shaun Kerr says:

    really? just think if he’d won all those high school and college accolades then wind up as a total bust in the NFL… but that’s not what happened though is it? do you hate ken griffey jr. too?

  3. MarkV says:

    I disagree with the comment above. Of course the situation that ‘really’ happened was the one discussed and not all the ones that did not happen.

    Very well written article. Kudos!

  4. Shawn says:

    This article is comparing apples to oranges. Why are you trying to devalue Mannings accomplishments because he didn’t endure a couple years of failure? Manning never let himself be on that level. After his rookie year, he reliazed that sucked and wanted to be better than anyone else.

    This article makes no sense as it seems you’re just tryin to up Young over Manning. If you want to compare Young to anyone, how about Kurt Warner who went throught the AFL.

  5. Jimbo says:

    Mike, Manning had an outstanding season, yes, but how many times has he been on top in passing efficiency? Has he won that award six times (in seven years) like Young did?

    And how many rushing yards or TDs does Manning have? Why do people always over look this part of Young’s career accomplishments?

    “Again, this was bested by Manning by reaching the playoffs 9 times (so far) (`99, `00, `02-`08) and 7 consecutive times (another NFL Record).”

    How many of those seasons also had a 1000 yard rusher to take pressure off of the passing game (all but two)? Young? A grand total of 2. Manning 7 seasons with 1000 rusher, Young 2.

    Further, Young was only a starter in SF for 8 seasons anyway, AND, Manning has enjoyed a much better offensive line. I don’t see Manning getting concussions three, four times a year or broken ribs for that matter.

    I will agree that Manning might go down as the best ever. But that depends upon the statistical categories continued. It’s hard to argue with the highest career passing rating AND the most rushing TDs/second most rushing yards in the same player.

    But then again, perhaps Young should be knocked for his durability (although clearly much of that had to do with the undersized and often injured line he had blocking for him).

    Either way, it cannot be denied that Manning has rarely had to run a one dimensional offense, like Young did almost every season.