Peyton Manning has more hardware than Tom Brady, but Brady has better jewelry, so he has no complaints. Yet he'll have a justifiable one this year if the people who vote for the Most Valuable Player award don't see fit to hand him the silver platter, gold trophy, or whatever token is handed out with that designation.
Manning has won four MVP awards and one Super Bowl. Brady has won one MVP award and three Super Bowls, which says much about what we value in society these days. Brady has been MVP of the season's ultimate game twice and took his 18-0 team to a fourth Super Bowl in 2007. Add to that a supermodel wife and the highest salary in the league and Brady wants for nothing.
Still, fair is fair, and to be blunt, there is no case to be made this year that any player has been more valuable to his team than Tom Brady has been to the Patriots.
Certainly the depleted Colts would be less than what they have been this season without Manning, and the Eagles have a redemption story as well as a resurrection going on with their quarterback, Michael Vick. But let's be clear on this: No one has meant more to or done more for his team than Tom Brady has done in 2010.
Although he has the statistics to back this up (a team-record 268 consecutive passes without an interception, 29 TD passes to four interceptions after 13 games, a passer rating of 109.9 and on and on), statistics are not enough to show how clear this point is, so let his boss explain it.
"Nobody is better than him," Belichick said of Brady after he had dismantled the Jets in a humbling 45-3 beat-down.
This season, more than any other, Brady is making that case for himself because his is a team that left Chicago with an 11-2 record despite a defense rated among the worst in football in points allowed and yards allowed, and an offense that does not have a single big name save one, and he is the one who has made all the difference this season.
"You can't make mistakes on Tom Brady," said Jets All-Pro CB Darrelle Revis with clear admiration. "He's a great quarterback, and you can't do it. When you do, he's going to find your mistake and exploit you."
Yet, not even that is the end of it when it comes to Brady's importance, because what he does on the field is only half of what he does for his team, according to someone who knows him well.
"I think it's the studying we do in the classroom (that best sets Brady apart), not the things we do on the football field," said WR Deion Branch, whose flagging career has been resurrected since returning to New England this season. "The work and the time we put in, even during the offseason — the time y'all don't get to see — that's one of his best attributes.
"We're a reflection of Coach Belichick. He studies the game and knows it, inside and out. Tom is the same way with this offense, and making sure he's prepared to know our opponents."
Because he does, they are. And because he pulls the trigger on Sunday, they are on the way to another season that won't end until well after most, if not all, of his peers are on hiatus. The reason for that is simple — Tom Brady — and so is this year's choice for MVP.
Ron Borges is a columnist for the Boston Herald.
This column was taken from the PFW print edition dated Dec. 19, 2010. The issue contains a feature on Bears MLB Brian Urlacher, a profile of late-blooming Broncos WR Brandon Lloyd, a look at the jobs being turned in by second-year head coaches Todd Haley, Raheem Morris and Steve Spagnuolo, as well as fantasy and handicapping tips. You can purchase the print edition at retail outlets and PFWstore.com.