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Peyton or Ray? Choose only one

Part of my job here behind this big slab of cherry wood is to dish out arguments.

Not just things that make you go, ‘Huh.’ But that also separate the bar a bit – that have several answers that could be, maybe even are, correct.

So, in that responsibility, I failed Wednesday. The question was whether Peyton Manning and Ray Lewis – two key components in Saturday’s playoff game in Indianapolis – are the best of their generation.

And pretty much everyone who stopped by to answer said yes.

\ So much for a potential barfight. I couldn’t even get WV Mike or Jim Traber to throw an elbow.

OK, so now I am going to add a twist on this particular drink, tossing in an apple and an orange.

Which player, Manning or Lewis, would you most want on your team of the late-90s/2000s if you could have only one?

Yes, comparing a defensive star to an offensive star is unfair. But that is what we are doing, so humor me.

They are both Hall of Famers, both have won a Super Bowl title and, as we established, the best of their generations at their respective positions.

But knowing what you know now about their pro careers, if you could go back to the late 1990s (Lewis was drafted in 1996 and Manning in 1998, so split the difference and say 1997) and take just one of them for your team, which one would it be?

On first blush, this seems like an easy call. Take the franchise quarterback, right? But, during Manning’s career, there have been some other pretty great quarterbacks, such as Tom Brady, Brett Favre and now Drew Brees.

As Rob K pointed out, the next best in line behind Lewis at middle linebacker in this era (the last 15 years or so) is Brian Urlacher, who is a very good player. But I think he is further behind Lewis than some of the other QBs are behind Manning.

And middle linebacker is the QB of the defense, or so the footballspeak goes.

So which one would you take to lead you through the 2000s? I still think I’d lean toward Manning, because he may be the best ever at the most important position. But I don’t think it is a slam dunk (yeah, I know, that’s from another sport).

Daily Think Special: Peyton or Ray? Choose only one.

Comments

Like you said, easy call - go with the franchise QB. I mean, it's not like Ray can win a Super Bowl with someone like Trent Dilfer at QB, right? Oh yeah, I guess he did.

The fact that it was easier to come up with guys who might challenge Peyton for best QB of his era than it was to compete with Ray should say that even if we had to "settle" for Brady, Favre, or heaven help us Roethlisberger, or even Flacco, we could put a capable QB on the other side of the ball to give us good production a whole lot easier than we could replace what Ray Lewis has brought to the Ravens for the past dozen plus years.

Ray Lewis.

Peyton Manning is good but I can name several quarterbacks who have enjoyed similar success but won MORE championships.

Unitas, Starr, Bradshaw, Montana, Aikman, Elway and Brady to name just a few.

Never has there been a linebacker who has meant as much to a defense, an organization, a city or to a fanbase as Ray Lewis does to Baltimore.

Dan, I'd go with Manning, too, and I don't think it's that close. The reason I say that is because of the nature of the two positions.

When players are equally great, then the debate has to center around what they do for their respective teams. Let's put Ray and Peyton against each other as they will be come Saturday.

All other things being equal, Manning has the advantage over Lewis for one very important reason: He's the man with the ball. He dictates the flow of the game and Ray reacts.

It's the same in some other other sports, as well. Two top tennis players, the one serving and the other returning serve: Even if the one is among the best at return of service, he's still at a disadvantage if the guy across the net is one of the best servers, because he must react.

Same thing with a baseball pitcher and hitter; the one knows where he's throwing the ball and what he's throwing, while the other must react: Edge to the pitcher, which is why a batter can fail seven out of ten at bats during his career and still go to the Hall of Fame.

As for Saturday, with the Ravens depleted secondary, I can't see how they're going to have a chance against Manning, Lewis or no Lewis. When someone with Manning's skillset, his quick release and uncanny ability to read defenses has two thousand yard receivers in Wayne and Clark, two very skilled youngsters in Garcon and Collie, and two backs who can catch the ball as well as Addai and Brown, I'd be highly surprised if the Ravens can keep within 10 points of the Colts this time.

If the Colts jump out quickly to a two-touchdown lead, forcing Flacco to go to the air, it means two healthy and well-rested elite pass rushers in Freeney and Mathis are going to turned loose on him every down and a rout could quickly ensure.

Well, I'm obviously bias on this question. I'll take 52. Both of these guys needed a lot of good players around them to have the success they had. Manning had Harrison, Wayne, Edge and one heckuva O-line. 52 had Sam Adams (the player, not the beer), Goose & Ngata in front of him and Woodson & Ed Reed behind him.

Both have won 1 super bowl and played on primarily winning teams throughout their careers. One has led teams to dominant regular seasons (PM) while the other seems to elevate the play of his team in the playoffs (52). I think your looking at two of the all-time greats, perhaps the greatest Inside/Middle linebacker and one of the top 5 QB's of all-time.

By a very narrow margin, I'll take 52. 60 hours and counting....

Drew, I can name MLBs who also enjoyed similar success to #52 and won more championships. Lambert of the Steelers, Nitschke of the Packers Buonocati of the Dolphins, Bruschi of the Pats. And none of those guys were ever implicated in sticky legal matters, best I can recall.

QB is the most important position on the field and I'd take the QBs on those teams, Bradshaw, Starr, Griese and Brady, over the MLB anyday. Peyton over Lewis is a layup.

And I'd take Johnny U over them all!

I'd take Ray Lewis over Peyton Manning any day. I hate Quarterbacks, I watch football because of Ray Lewis and defense.

Gotta go with Ray - he is a bonafide killer!

PEYTON MANNING, by the time he leaves,5-6 years ,HE should have excellent numbers,. pct. passing touch downs,comp.,mvps, super bowls . etc,. yes, there are other qbs , but not with his talents,. how many go all week studing the other team ,plays and what to do to change., none. thank you .

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