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Are Peyton Manning and Ray Lewis the best of this NFL era?

With Saturday’s clash between the Ravens and Colts in Indy looming, an interesting question by my Sun colleague Kevin Van Valkenburg was tossed to Ravens head coach John Harbaugh on Tuesday.

Are Peyton Manning and Ray Lewis the best offensive and defensive NFL players of this generation?

Harbaugh danced around it, saying he’d have to study all the great players of the past decade or so to make a comparison.

Me? Not so much. Not in this fine establishment, anyway.

I say yes and yes.

Manning gets serious competition from Brett Favre, who won three consecutive MVP trophies. But Manning has four, and my vote.

And, honestly, I think Lewis stands alone on the defensive side.

I assume you guys will have the same bias. But who knows?

There’s an occasional objective person in this place (at least before I summon the bouncer). Maybe some supporters of other teams will sneak in here – we still haven’t sprayed for Steelers fans this month.

Plus, I guess there could be a decent argument about what this “generation” or era is. For argument’s sake, I’ll say the past 15 years or so.

Daily Think Special: Are Peyton Manning and Ray Lewis the best of this generation?


Can't take Peyton over Brett. Peyton never on a bad team, like Montana. Brett makes plays those guys haven't made, (yet).

There is no doubt, they both are the best of this generation and in my estimation are the 2nd best of all time. With only Unitas and maybe Butkis or Lambert being better. Though there is the thought that because of Lewis's longevity and playing at a high level
he might be the best linebacker of all time.

Barkeep's Reply: Hey Mace, don't forget the original LT. The best for my money.

If you offered to give me any quarterback and any middle linebacker of all time (in their primes) to start a franchise, there's no one I'd rather take than Manning and Lewis. So I would say that yes, they are the best of the generation.

I remember seeing Sammy Baugh when I was very young. No one could control a game like Peyton. Johnny U was great, but I believe that even he would bow to Peyton.

Yes and yes. Not even close.

Yes and Yes. BTW Bart15, Peyton was on a bad team his first few years (remember Jim Mora?). Not sure what you were comparing. Favre is a little older so they crossed generations but for my money, I'll take Manning.

Lewis is slam dunk. Has he really had any competition at MLB the last 15 years? Don't tell me Ur-slacher, the oversized safety from New Mexico.

Geez, it's only wednesday. Good think Monday is a holiday (for most). We'll need to either 1) continue the mourning period or B) recover.

Hmm, funny thing, Tom Brady has 3 super bowl trophies, how many does Peyton have??

Yes to Manning Yes to Lewis - Honorable mention on defense to Derrick Brooks - 10 Pro Bowls, defensive player of the year, Super Bowl. Only 4 players have other had this trifecta - 52, SIngletary, Reggie White and Brooks.

Honorable mention on offense to Tom Brady.

Hey Dan Ray Lewis is still thw linebacker in the game period end of story. Also he might be the greatest ever sorry butkus , singletary and lambert, taylor. none of those guys could run down running backs the way Ray does maybe LT if he had some cocaine that game day. As for manning he might be the best of this generation but favre is right too . too close to call if one of them wins the super bowl this season it would in my mind put one above the other.

Colts fan here. Yes and yes.

Ray Lewis in my assesment is the greatest Linebacker to ever play the game. He has played at an intensity level and longer than anyone at the position.Butkus was the benchmark but he can't match up to Ray.
As far as quarterbacks Peyton has some strong competition.Unitas Montanna Brady Namath etc. Peyton has carried the Colts time and time again.just likeRay has the Ravens.Had it not been for a management decision Peyton may have held every prize available to an NFL quarterback. As far as Statues to the players Ray deserves one in Baltimore and Peyton deserves one in Indianapolis. We will see another historic contest in INDY with the two best ever.

Yes and Yes. Easily for the last decade and arguably the best ever at their respective positions. It pains me to say that as I grew up idolizing Unitas and I still see red every time I see a Mayflower moving van.

That's an unequivocal HELL YEAH! Excuse my language. I'd toss in Favre, but no one comes close to Ray Superbowl MVP, 2 Defensive Player of the year awards Lewis!

(sidenote) these verification words are getting harder & harder. I have to copy my post just incase I get them wrong. lol


Barkeep's Reply: Sorry Kevin. I didn't know there would be a test to get in here either. But the spammers have made it necessary. I was losing my shirt hiring bouncers to keep them out -- and no one wants to see me shirtless.

The late great John Steadman would have LOVED this matchup - Baltimore Ravens vs. the Indy Irsays in the playoffs. Again. It all comes down to who WANTS it more. I think the Ravens have the edge here. They want it. They can taste it. Ray Lewis is pumped up. So is Ray Rice and Willis McGahee. Drive, determination, and desire matter.
The team that wants it more will win.

Of this era? Unequivocally Yes. Probably the best of all time, when its all said and done. Montana is my personal favorite, but being only 27, admittedly I've seen more of Manning than Cool Joe. His only downfall is only having one Super Bowl, but Marino has none, and people still rank him among the best.

Now for defense, to only person that would rank with Ray is LT. They made people gameplan for them. Its hard to choose b/w the two. LT terrorized QBs, Ray Lewis negated your running back. LT was physically gifted, and blew past OLineman, while Ray Lewis studied game tape judiciously and knew what play you were running as soon as you lined up.

So all time, its harder to argue. But for the past 15-20 years, give me Manning and Lewis in a landslide.

I would definitely say yes to Ray, he has been an absolute force, might have lost a step but he is still very good and among the best LBs in the game today.

As for Peyton I hesitate to say he's the best because of Brady. I think I might have to give the edge to Brady because of his postseason success, where as Peyton's level of play drops compared to his regular season success.

Yes to both. If everyone had a work ethic and love for the game like those two they would all be fun to watch.

Nothing like a good old fashioned bar discussion about ranking players. Nice to have at least one horse in this race. Raymond did a good job of explaining the difference between Ray and LT. Since the original premise was "of this generation", defined as the past 15 years or so, that makes it easy to disqualify LT from this specific discussion, and makes it easy to give the defensive nod to Lewis. I wonder what they would say in other cities, though?

The QB question is a little dicier, with Brady and Favre the two biggest alternative choices. Brady hasn't been at it quite as long as Manning (or Brett), but does have more SB wins than than the other two combined. Being out last season and dinged up this year has taken a little of the luster off Brady but he's also not done yet, as far as we can tell. Peyton has the advantage of playing his home games indoors so that makes it a bit easier to rack up the stats, but the guy's for real. He's the one that concerns me the most with the ability to dissect a defense. Up till he won his SB the Manning-Brady-Favre debate was kind of like the Marino-Elway-Kelly discussion of two decades ago.

Bottom line: I vote yes to both. And I second Kevin's gripe about the Captcha, which you have heard me whine about before. Can you at least see if you can get it added to the preview screen, or have the preview screen accept the previous entry? I make so many typos and have to do so much editing that the back and forth can get tedious. And feel free to edit this lament out of the blog if you want.

Barkeep's Reply: I have no control over this, but I'll pass on the complaints to someone who might.

Yes to both. Should be quite a battle on Saturday.

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