Brett Favre vs. Peyton Manning

I am a student of NFL history. Longtime readers may remember my analysis of every great dynasty the league has seen, or a column on the NFL's greatest records, or my repeated assertions that Art Monk belongs in the Hall of Fame. A decent portion of my free time is spent researching — or at least thinking about — the NFL.

A week or two ago, I was doing just that, mentally going over a list of the greatest quarterbacks the league has seen. To make sure I keep things in historical perspective, I go by decade, starting with 1946 (the beginning of the NFL's modern era). 1946-55, Otto Graham. 1956-65, John Unitas. Then Fran Tarkenton, and so on. When I got to the current period, starting in 1996, I almost automatically said Brett Favre, but thought to myself, "You know, I bet Peyton Manning is getting pretty close."

And it turns out, Manning is really close.


Let's start with stats, and we'll go from there. Obviously, Favre — who has played 16 seasons to Manning's nine — is way ahead in gross numbers.

	Att	Comp	Yds	TD	INT
Favre	8,223	5,021	57,500	414	273
Manning	4,890	3,131	37,586	275	139

In average production per season, the tables are turned. All the numbers below are per-season averages, rounded to the nearest whole number.

	Att	Comp	Yds	TD	INT
Favre	514	314	3,594	26	17
Manning	543	348	4,176	31	15

Okay, so Manning leads in every category. But he's not just a guy who throws a lot. Manning leads Favre in every major efficiency stat, too.

	Cmp%	Yds/Att	TD%	INT%	Rating
Favre	61.1	6.99	5.0	3.3	85.1
Manning	64.0	7.69	5.6	2.8	94.4

Manning also leads in yards per completion (12.00-11.45) and adjusted yards per pass (6.97-6.00), an efficiency rating originally published in The Hidden Game of Football, by Carroll, Palmer, and Thorn. There's a very reasonable argument to be made in Favre's defense here. In fact, there are several. But the first one is that Favre is old. His play has declined sharply in the past two seasons, and that's hurting his averages. So the charts below present only Favre's first nine years as a starter (1992-2000), the same number of seasons Manning has played in the NFL.

	Att	Comp	Yds	TD	INT
Favre	4,927	2,997	34,706	255	155
Manning	4,890	3,131	37,586	275	139
	Cmp%	Yds/Att	TD%	INT%	Rating
Favre	60.8	7.04	5.2	3.1	86.3
Manning	64.0	7.69	5.6	2.8	94.4

Favre's averages get better (except completion percentage, which drops slightly), but Manning remains ahead in every category — now including the gross numbers. But Favre had several good seasons after 2000, so let's present his averages from 1991-2004, which includes everything except these last two years.

	Cmp%	Yds/Att	TD%	INT%	Rating
Favre	61.5	7.10	5.4	3.2	87.4
Manning	64.0	7.69	5.6	2.8	94.4

Again, better, but Favre is still far behind, and there can be little doubt that Manning has been a much more efficient quarterback. But Favre has been doing this for a long time, and there's no guarantee that Manning can keep this up for that long. So presented below are Favre's statistics from only his nine best seasons: 1994-98 and 2001-04.

	Att	Comp	Yds	TD	INT
Favre	4,831	3,007	35,301	297	148
Manning	4,890	3,131	37,586	275	139
	Cmp%	Yds/Att	TD%	INT%	Rating
Favre	62.2	7.31	6.1	3.1	92.1
Manning	64.0	7.69	5.6	2.8	94.4

Now this is close. Favre has gone ahead in touchdowns and TD percentage. But Manning leads in completions, completion percentage, yards, yards per attempt, yards per completion, fewer interceptions, interception percentage, passer rating, and adjusted yards per pass. These are the nine best seasons of Favre's career. If Manning goes on to play six years (Favre didn't play as a rookie, which is why it's not seven years) the way Favre did in 2006, or when his thumb was injured around 1999-2000 — which is to say, six pretty average seasons — he'll still finish with better stats.

I haven't included rushing statistics yet, but they don't change much. I'll also show the number of sacks taken. These are career numbers.

	Rush	Yds	Avg	TD	Sacks
Favre	526	1,774	3.4	13	424
Manning	269	701	2.6	13	170

One potential defense for Favre is historical perspective. The majority of Favre's career overlaps with Manning's, but he also played six seasons, 1992-97, before Manning was in the league, and the game has changed. Passer ratings have gone up over time. Presented below are the average passer ratings of the league's top 10 in passing yards, for every year since Favre became a full-time starter.

1992	83.7		2000	86.3
1993	84.6		2001	84.6
1994	85.8		2002	86.2
1995	88.6		2003	87.6
1996	83.2		2004	96.0
1997	84.3		2005	87.4
1998	85.7		2006	87.4
1999	85.5

Favre was in the top 10 every year except 2003, and Manning is in for every year starting in 1998, his rookie season, so their statistics affect the averages. This is especially noteworthy for 2004, when Manning's was 121.1, easily the NFL record for a season.

What these averages show is that passer ratings are higher than they were when Favre's career began. The averages have risen from (mostly) the 83-86 range toward (mostly) the 86-88 range. The main reason is that interception percentages have dropped. Favre's, though, have risen. He still throws for 3,800 yards every year, but now he's throwing 20 picks a season.

Manning, statistically, is the better quarterback. Right now. Not projecting, or at least not much. Right now, nine seasons into his career, Manning has better stats than Favre.


Four words help explain why Manning's stats might be better than Favre's: Marvin Harrison, Antonio Freeman. Favre hasn't played with a great receiver since Sterling Sharpe retired. Harrison will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Let's examine the company kept by these two great quarterbacks, and see who comes out ahead.


The most important category, obviously, and Manning definitely has more help. Besides Harrison, he has Reggie Wayne, who has been a really special player the last few years, and he's always had a good tight end (Marcus Pollard or Dallas Clark). Manning's wide receivers and tight ends have made a combined nine Pro Bowls, eight of them by Harrison.

Favre's best receivers were Sharpe and Freeman, plus Robert Brooks, Javon Walker, and Donald Driver — who does look really good right now. Favre also played with tight ends Jackie Harris, Mark Chmura, Keith Jackson, and Bubba Franks. Favre's wide receivers and tight ends have made a combined 14 Pro Bowls, not including two by Sterling Sharpe before Favre's career began. Manning gets the edge here, but not by as much as you might think.

Running Backs

Before this year's tag team of Joseph Addai and Dominic Rhodes, Manning had Edgerrin James, plus one season with Marshall Faulk (1998) and another with Rhodes (2001, when James was injured). Favre's primary RBs have been Dorsey Levens and Ahman Green.

I'll give Manning a very slight edge here, but Green isn't far behind James, and Levens was better than you probably think.

Offensive Line

I'll call this equal. Favre has always had a great line, including standouts like Mike Flanagan, Marco Rivera, Mike Wahle, and Frank Winters. Indianapolis has one of the best o-lines in the NFL, led by center Jeff Saturday and left tackle Tarik Glenn.


This doesn't have much direct impact on a quarterback, so I'm lumping the entire defense together. This area is a huge edge for Favre. This year's postseason run notwithstanding, the Colts have never backed Manning with a good defense, while the 1990s Packers had exceptional defenses: the 1996 Super Bowl team led the NFL in both yards allowed and points allowed. Suffice to say Dwight Freeney is no Reggie White.


Both quarterbacks had high-quality head coaches. Mike Holmgren and Tony Dungy have similar coaching records, and both are borderline Hall of Famers. Holmgren's talented offensive assistants included Jon Gruden, Steve Mariucci, and Andy Reid. Dungy has Jim Caldwell and Tom Moore working with Manning. I'll call this equal, too.

But consider that Favre has never been the same player without Holmgren. The physical ability is still there, but his decision-making is not. Favre's yards per attempt and interception percentage have gotten dramatically worse in Holmgren's absence. And while Manning has flourished with Dungy and his staff, he also succeeded with Jim Mora, winning two all-pro spots with Mora as his coach.


I believe Manning has gotten more help from his offensive coaches and teammates than Favre has, which helps to account for some of his huge statistical advantage. But Favre has gotten more help from the team as a whole, impacting wins and championships.

In the Clutch

Peyton Manning is a better winner than Brett Favre. The Packers have gone 148-92, a .617 winning percentage. That does not include an 11-9 record in the postseason (.550). Manning's Colts are 92-52, a .639 winning percentage. That doesn't include their 7-6 record in the postseason (.538). Those numbers are pretty equal, but remember, the Colts don't have a defense.

Both players were on a Super Bowl-winning team. Favre's Packers won Super Bowl XXXI on the strength of Desmond Howard's returning and Drew Bledsoe's four interceptions. The Colts won Super Bowl XLI on the strength of everything except special teams, and Manning was named the game's MVP.

Manning is the game's best clutch quarterback (yes, he's better than Tom Brady), just as Favre was in his prime. Both have led a ton of fourth-quarter comebacks, including a pair of record-breakers by Manning: last month's AFC Championship Game against New England, and 2003's 21-point comeback in the final four minutes of a Monday night game against the defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

What about the Patriots? Manning's Colts are 3-6 against the Pats in the Tom Brady Era, including 1-2 in the postseason. Favre's biggest nemesis in his prime was the Cowboys. From the beginning of Favre's career until the end of Troy Aikman's career, the Packers went 1-8 against Dallas, including 0-3 in the playoffs and with all eight losses by double-digits. If you think Manning struggled against New England, the Cowboys owned Brett Favre.

All that said, this is at least close, so I'll call it a tie.


Stats are fine, but how about an objective — or at least ostensibly objective — look at these two great quarterbacks?

Favre has been named to eight Pro Bowls and five Associated Press all-pro teams, including three first-team selections. He was also NFL MVP three times, counting his 1997 co-MVP shared with Barry Sanders. Few players can boast a more impressive résumé.

Manning has been named to seven Pro Bowls and six AP all-pro teams, including three first-team selections. He has also been NFL MVP twice, counting his 2003 co-MVP shared with Steve McNair. Few players can boast a more impressive résumé, and Manning is only halfway through his career.

I'll call this a tie, also, but if you project at all, Manning goes way ahead.

The Streak

Part of Favre's legend is his incredible, record-breaking streak of consecutive starts by a quarterback. Actually, scratch "record-breaking" — let's go with record-shattering. Favre, at 237 games, is way ahead of second place on the list, a position held by ... Peyton Manning, who has played in 144 consecutive games and has never missed a start. Favre has the edge in this category, but it is conceivable that Manning could break his record.


There can be no argument that Favre and Manning are both among the greatest quarterbacks ever to play. Both make my list of the 10 best QBs in the history of the game. It should be interpreted as no slight to Favre that I now believe Manning has had the better career.

In the modern era of professional football, seven quarterbacks stand out as statistically dominant over their peers, outdistancing their contemporaries to the point that there is almost no comparison: Graham, Unitas, Tarkenton, Joe Montana, Dan Marino, Favre, and Manning. This is not to say that those are the seven greatest quarterbacks in history, or even in the modern era. But for Manning to have joined that group this early in his career is remarkable, and leads me to believe that Manning has a very real chance at retiring as the greatest quarterback ever to play.

Comments and Conversation

February 13, 2007

vishy anand:

Great article! Very objective and well-researched.

I’m a big football fan and I thank you for digging up these stats! Although I’m a huge Favre supporter, I too think that Peyton has a real shot at going down as the best ever.

I’d very much appreciate it if you can tell me where you got the stats so next time I have a question or am curious about football related stuff, I can readily look it up.

February 14, 2007


Peyton Manning has played his entire career with Marvin Harrison; that is an extreme advantage over Favre who has had decent wide receivers constantly changing through his career. The point of the relationship a quarterback is able to establish with a receiver of Harrison’s level over time has to be made. I strongly believe that when one factors in the weapons Peyton has had opposed to Favre, Brett Favre comes out a better quarterback. In addition, the consecutive games streaks are decieving, although Peyton has never missed nay games, he has never had to batle through the types of injuries Brett did.

February 14, 2007


Maybe it’s me or that I just missed something BUT………as great as Peyton is…..he plays is a DOME……….on a carpet. For more than HALF his career (including road game domes), he hasn’t had to deal with the elements like Favre has. It’s not Peyton’s fault he plays where he does but venue play a HUGE role in counting numbers. Favre has played in some of the worst weather conditions possible. That’s why I give Favre the edge over Manning as I do Elway and even Tom Brady.

February 14, 2007


Great Article! I agree that the “the elements” should be considered. While we are adding variables for consideration, let’s compare the overall strength of the NFC, which is not equal at this time, to the AFC. Plus Manning “runs” the offense from the line of scrimmage, Tom Moore is the offensive coordinator but it is Manning that gets them in the right play at the line. When all of these things get lumped in I believe Manning should be included on this list.

February 14, 2007

Big Ron:

Favre’s in a category almost all by himself. I’m a Giants fan and I can say that Favre is the best I’ve ever seen play the position. That includes guys like Tittle, Baugh, Starr, Unitas and more moderns like Montana, Marino and Elway (Elway is in Favre’s elite club, not Favre though).

February 14, 2007


As said before in the article, peyton manning for his entire nine year career has had some of the worst defenses in the league. He has carried the entire franchise on his back from day one. This year Peyton manning carried the worst run defense in the history of the NFL to the superbowl and won it. That has not ever been done before and will never be done again. The special teams were also ranked dead last this year, giving up return touchdowns at an alraming rate. While farve is great, nobody has had to overcome more as a individual quaterback as manning. Nobody.As far as harrison being a great wide reciever, the real truth is as real colts fans know, is that Marvin is more a product of peyton manning, not the orther way around. Put marvin on another team his career touchdowns are cut in half. This year Peyton manning broke the record for third down conversions at a outstanding 57 %…Know matter how you cut it, Manning has a the the best start to a nine year carrer as any quaterback ever.

February 14, 2007


You make a valid point but if we go the “coulda, woulda, shoulda” route, he still plays indoors. I am inclined to wonder if:
“Know matter how you cut it, Manning has a the the best start to a nine year carrer as any quaterback ever.” would still ring true if he played outdoors, in Lambeau, Soldier Field or Gillette Stadium. I’m not debating Manning’s greatness, it’s just that for the most part, he plays in a “climate-controlled” environment on a fast track. Favre plays outdoors and NEVER had a Marvin Harrison caliber guy.

February 14, 2007


Bottom line, Peyton Manning a a great cerebral quarterback, very smart, accurate precise. But…. I have been watching pro football for over 40 years, and to be honest, Brett Favre in his hey day 1994-1997 was the most dominant player in pro football period. I just don’t mean quarterbacks, but best player period. That is a huge point. There was Favre, then there was everyone else. Manning is good, but isn’t necessarily better than Brady and there are other players today at other positions that are as dominant as Peyton is at their positions. Favre did not have the best talent around him, he had good players, not great. The outside element comparison is also a huge factor. That’s another reason why Favre beats out Peyton, he was a consistent winner outdoors in the snow and wind and rain. Peyton never had to continuously deal with any outside elements. Favre had nagging injuries, but always played. An easy comparison is this: Favre had to overcome the dramatics of playing outdoors with good talent, opposed to Peyton playing indoors with better talent. Favre gets my nod.

February 14, 2007


I remember when there used to be a debate about whether Manning was better than McNair (man, that seems like a long time ago, doesn’t it?), one point that many of McNair supporters would bring up (including many in the media that voted for the MVP) was that McNair was much tougher than Manning because he often battled through nagging injuries, while Manning was rarely, if ever injured. I thought it was a dubious arguement then, and I think it still is, even though Farve is a much higher caliber of a QB than McNair. Why is Manning penalized for being incredibly durable? Shouldn’t that be part of what makes him great, that he almost never gets hurt?

The fact that Manning plays many of his games indoors (although not for much longer) is a much more valid point. However, I think it would be interesting if someone compared Manning’s stats for games played indoors and games played outdoors. I think he would hold up better than most would assume.

February 15, 2007

vishy anand:

Bill said: “the most dominant player in pro football period. I just don’t mean quarterbacks, but best player period”

You must be joking, Bill. Some would argue that Brett Favre isn’t even the best player in his team, let alone the most dominant in all of NFL. Have we forgotten Reggie White already?

All this talk about Marvin Harrison is nonsense. Peyton shattered records in high school, college and in NFL. Also, if you look at the stats for Marvin before Peyton came, they look pretty average. What, 700, 800 yds per year?

February 15, 2007


Well, how many times has each been sacked, hurried, etc.?

Pro football is entertainment and, while I believe P. Manning will be one of the all-time greats, he has never had to do the number of scrambles, step-ups into the pocket, throws from precarious positions Favre has.

Offensive lines, not receivers, are what folks must compare first when comparing QB’s. Manning has never had to scramble as much as Favre.

Manning is a great player. Favre is a great and EXCITING player. A lot of people use the old adage “If you had one QB to play the most important game, who would you choose?”

But that’s not a good question because who are the offensive linemen, who are the defensive players, what is the situation?

In the end, even though I think Peyton Manning will end up with way better stats than Favre, I would rather watch Favre than Manning. Manning makes plays; Favre creates plays.

February 15, 2007


Two great QB’s as I’ve said……But I’d agree….with Jeepers Favre is amazing to watch. Manning, while terrific is the creation of a great system, terrific offensive talent , a dome and a fast track. As for Favre and Reggie White. Favre at that point was THE most dominant player at least on GB (maybe in the NFL). I’m a Packers fan since way back when and even I’ll admitt that Reggie White’s best days may’ve been in Philly.

February 15, 2007


To the comment by “Vishy anand”, I said Favre was the most dominant player in pro football from 1994 to 1997, and during that time he was, period. Manning as of 2007 today, has compariable quarterbacks around him, Brady. I also totally agree that Favre has always had to run around and make plays happen, where as Manning always seems to have more time to make plays. Favre could make things happen out of nothing, that is why he is so great, he took blown plays and blown assignments and turned them many times into receptions or first downs. Favre has that “unpredictible” factor, that as a defender, you sometimes can’t defend against.
I do believe Manning, though still a great decision maker and player, is a more system quarterback, and that if the play he is running, isn’t run perfectly, and he has to ad lib, or compromise, and I don’t mean what he does at the line of schrimage when he changes a play due to something he sees in the defense, I mean when the play actually begins. Once the play breaks down, Peyton doesn’t quite often, have the ability to make something out of nothing, where that is one of the great traits that defines Favre, Making something out of nothing. Favre still gets my nod, bottom line,

February 15, 2007


As per Jeepers comment that “Peyton will end up with way better stats than Favre”, How so? Favre basically has the best all time stats out there in many of the important categories, he is 7 td’s away from Marino, 421 td’s all time, the holy grail of records.. Many said this stat would never be broken. He needs two wins to be the winningest QB EVER, in the history of the NFL! Granted the pace Peyton is on, Favre’s all time numbers would be in sight, but Peyton has years to go to catch them, but as “JEEPERS” said “that Peyton will end up with way better stats”, I DONTthink way better but close. Right now, as of the 2007 NFL season, Favre will have most of the major benchmrk Quarterback all tiime records. Peyton has a ways to go yet to even catch Favre, yet blow past him!

February 15, 2007

vishy anand:

You guys crack me up. Peyton is a great “system quarterback”? He was a system QB in high school and college when he was breaking all the records?

If he is a system QB, then he’s doing that job better than anyone in the NFL history. I don’t know any other system QB who had 49 TDs and 121.4 QB rating in a single year. If you say Tom Brady is a system QB, you’ll have a better case because all his numbers are average and he never won the MVP award which Montana, Manning, Favre won multiple times.

Favre is great and when he’s on, he’s more exciting to watch than Peyton. Peyton in his first 9 years has better numbers than any QB in history. He doesn’t do it with style, but his numbers are mindbogglingly efficient.

February 16, 2007


“Favre is the best I ever seen you know. He got that arm with a bunch of no-name guys catchin’ balls over there. He blocks hard and clean when he has to and that’s why defense guys like myself really respect him. That’s kinda what separates him from Manning, Warner, Donovan and everybody else.”
~Warren Sapp

February 16, 2007

Brad Oremland:

Hey everyone,

Thanks for the thoughtful comments on my column; everyone has made some good points. The dome/Lambeau point is an especially good one, though Favre hasn’t been any better indoors than Manning has been outdoors.

Regarding statistics, while it is true that next season Favre will almost certainly break some of Elway’s and especially Marino’s records in hallowed stats, it is inconceivable — barring a major injury in the next year or two — that Manning will not finish his career with better raw statistics than Favre. Furthermore, if Manning plays anywhere near as long as Favre — and he’s said recently that he’s only halfway through his career — he will eclipse all of the records set by Favre and Marino.

As far as the Harrison Factor, I don’t think Favre’s receivers are getting enough credit. During the three seasons he played with Favre, Sterling Sharpe might have been the best wide receiver in the NFL, and Donald Driver has also become a very good receiver. Manning has never had a Pro Bowl tight end, but Favre has had a Pro Bowl TE seven times. I believe that Manning has had better receivers, but not by all that much.

It also seems like people are undervaluing Favre’s offensive line, which until the last season or two has always been very good. Favre’s playmaking has always been spectacular because he moves around and throws on the run, but Manning’s playmaking is less obvious because he just forces the ball into his receivers before he gets hit. Manning’s quick release and ability to avoid sacks even when there is pressure are part of what has made him great.

Lastly, I would dispute that Favre was more dominant in his prime than Manning has been. Those who claim that Favre had no competition at the QB position have obviously forgotten Steve Young, who was a better rival than Tom Brady has been to this point in his career. It’s also noteworthy that Manning already has more all-pro honors than Favre.

I won’t argue with those who believe Favre has had the better career, but I think some of the arguments in his favor have been overstated.

Thanks again, everyone, both for reading and for the good points you’ve raised in your comments.

Brad Oremland
Sports Central

February 18, 2007



BOTTOM line is……baseball is just a filler till opening day kickoff! Great column that was thought provoking.


February 19, 2007


Unfortunately, you are wrong about the offensive talent surrounding Favre vs. Manning. Sterling Sharpe may have been a good receiver but that is the only hall of fame type wide receiver Favre has ever played with. (And Sharpe isn’t even a hall of fame receiver.) Manning just won his first Superbowl playing with Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne. Two very good receivers on the same team. Did Favre ever have two wide-outs this good playing on the same team? Never.

As far as Tight Ends, only one Favre played with, Keith Jackson, could be considered as prime time.

As far as offensive linemen, if the Packers had not replaced Jon Michels, they would have never reached the Superbowl. No offensive lineman Favre has ever played with will EVER be considered hall of fame material and most weren’t even pro bowl material.

As a starter, Favre has had only one losing season yet it is doubtful that any other offensive player Favre has played with would even be considered for the hall of fame.

I love Peyton Manning. But, no matter how you spin it, Brett Favre is basically the reason we watch football.

Put it this way: if it was Brett Favre quarterbacking the Bears in the Superbowl, would you ever give up watching?

If winning is everything, then consider Brett Favre. One losing season in 15 years???? Playing with no offensive player who will ever even be considered for hall of fame status?

March 13, 2007

Phil Abramoff:

Great analysis. Love it. As a lifetime Packer
and Favre fan (I have the same birthday as
Brett), my biasses go with Brett. It is really
hard to name the greatest players of all-time
at any position, even lifetime records aside.
You have to look at the complete package.
What did the player add to the game.
Peyton’s great, I like him. But, have you
ever seen Peyton actually THROW A BLOCK?
How does Peyton do in zero degrees and
a foot of snow?
My pitch is that Brett could be considered
the “funnest to watch” quarterback of
all-time, in his gunslinging style, his gutsy
sacrifice-his-body play, his iron-man record, and how he jawjacks the 300 pound
lineman that just sacked him. He helps make
football what it is meant to be…a hell of a
lot of fun.
Then, after Peyton picks up a few more
Super Bowls, and breaks all the records
that Brett will borrow for a few years,
we’ll call Peyton the greatest “winning”
quarterback of all time.

April 27, 2007

Average Guy Joe:

All comments about both can be made and can be very comparable and incomparable. One out weighting the other in one catagory, era, support and whatnot but one thing is for sure, both quaterbacks have a legend of its own. Its a never ending issue, that the winner is the one whoever favorite the most…. Micheal Jordan is to Basketball, Tiger Woods is to Golf, Wayne Gretzky is to Hockey, dale earhart is to Nascar, Tony Hawk is to skate boarding, Mike Tyson is to Boxing and finally.. Brett Favre is to Football =)

September 18, 2007


Nice stats Brad. Did notice though you never compared their television endorsements, both have had good ones. And who can forget the “There’s Something About Mary” role, Brett should have won an Emmy to put along side his 3 MVP’s.

October 23, 2007


Basically see if Manning can survive. Who cares where he is now. Will he make it as far as Favre, Elway, Marino and glass Joe? If he can’t his early carreer stats are a could have….

December 17, 2007


Basically, I agree with you over everything in terms of numbers. What I don’t see why the important subjective category is excluded. What I mean by that is the ability or gift to connect to fans. If the sport is an entertainment ( and it is) and when the difference between a statistics are virtually the same (i.e. 27 td’s vs 31… and remember you can’t use statistics without variables such as the fact that for at least 8 games each year, farve is throwing into harsher environments in green bay than manning has) but back to the point when Manning and Brady are compared or when Favre is thrown into the same debate and they all have legendary statistics year in and year out, than you must also look at the ability to connect to fans. Favre has a shrine in Green Bay devoted to him: either read the sportsillustrated cover magazine where he won the sports illustrated sportsman of the year award in 2007 or read the article written by espn’s sports analyist doug ward

I respect manning a lot. But when compared to the legendary favre and his ability to connect to fans ( plus indicative stats) than
I think you need to look past the primary use of objective numbers since the subjective is also signficantly important. And what I mean by that is not to just take one fan’s subjective account but rather many people all over the country’s account. People respect Manning but on the same hand, people would kill for Brett Favre. He makes his teammates whether young or old believe in themselves more than great and talented players ( marvin harrison) need to in order to achieve similiar statistics as manning.

February 3, 2008


i never really thought about bringing in the fact that Manning has played in a dome and Favre has endured the elements more at Lambeau.

I think once you get to the level of Favre and Manning, its hard to say which one is better because they play for different teams, in different conditions, for different coaches.

They’re obviously both incredible, but Favre is definitely more fun to watch, actually the most exciting athlete I’ve ever seen.

February 21, 2008


Very impressive article. I am a big fan of Favre’s, but Manning is there. If Manning give’s five more years as he is playing today, he will be the man. Where is Elway in this mix?

March 9, 2008


During Favre’s career they scored 30+ points a game routinely. They NEVER had great defensive teams but rather had one great defensive player in Reggie White towards the end of his career. If they had Favre’s teams would have won half a dozen Super Bowls.

Sterling Sharpe WAS a Hall of Fame caliber player who’s career was cut short. If he had played out an extended career in Green Bay perhaps it would have meant more Super Bowls and Sharpe would have been a first ballot inductee. Fact is he was not and Favre had only a few “good” receivers for the remainder of his career. Manning has been blessed with great offensive talent his entire career.

Too many media types make way too much out of Super Bowl wins in judging a quarterbacks success. This is still the ultimate team game and the overall talent is what determines the greatness of those teams, not one player. Does anyone really think Terry Bradshaw would have succeeded anywhere else, without the immense talent surrounding those great Steelers teams?

A small market ($$) team playing outdoors has a huge disadvantage when making such comparisons. I seem to recall Manning having difficulty against New England in road playoff games when the weather was marginal. I can’t imagine putting Manning or any other quarterback in Farve’s situation over 17 years and performing at a higher level than did Favre. The same can not be said of having Favre play on many of the other great teams of the past.

It’s a no brainer, they are both great but Farve is the best.

June 5, 2008


Still even though peyton may seem beter, the real trick is what happens when harrison retires? Will payton still have a go to reciever? And i f u talk about clutch i would have to be Tom Brady. Do u remember when Colts were leading by Ten in the 4th, and pats came back to win, where was Peyton then. This happened because the team was miising harrrison and once he leaves for could, so will peytons carrer. Plus dont forget favre has 3mvp’s how much does peyton have?

November 27, 2008

Jared F:

A lot of people a while back were making comments about how Manning has always had bad defenses and has had to carry the team and then they turn around and talk about his great stats.

It seems to me that if the Colts defense has been so bad, of course he’ll have great stats because you have to pass the ball and score a lot if you have a defense that gives up a lot of points.

They are both great QB’s and it is difficult to compare them because they are in different situations. Fact is, we don’t know how Favre would have done if he played indoors for his entire career or likewise how Manning would have fared if he had to play in the elements.

Right now, I would say Favre has had a much better career than Manning. You can project all you want, but until Manning proves he can continue his pace, nothing is for certain.

April 2, 2009


Farve, Manning, it is always popular to argue that current quarterbacks are the “best of all time.” I’m sure everyone would agree when talking “Best of” categories in the NFL, it is wrong to limit to just one person.

That being said, stats have never determined the best quarterback, and we have Dan Marino to prove it. All stats aside Joe Montana is the best quarterback I’ve ever seen play. (Vikings Fan)

Whenever the Vikes play Farve, and they did twice a year. I would watch not knowing the outcome. The the chance that Farve chokes the game is just as likely as him having a highlight reel.

Joe Montana, however, was friggin’ scary. I knew unless every player on the Vikes had one of the best games of their lives, we would lose.
Nobody, I mean nobody, handled Montana.

Manning has also had many a choke year against the Pats.

Almost any piece of Unitas film I’ve seen also sets him a bar above Manning and Farve.

OL’s, Coaches, Systems, etc. I say these two have benefitted from the Media more than anything else. Before the mid-nineties NFL was hardly even covered. You would have to read transactions next to the box scores you never heard about OTA’s and Mini-camps.

A very important point. Consecutive Starts records, although manly, are PURE LUCK!!! Longevity does not necessarily mean that you are better than anyone else. If that were true the oldest person on the planet would be better than us at most aspects of life. The stats would probably prove it but would it mean that it is true.

Thanks for the article and all the comments, it is good to know that there are good NFL fans out there and not just the people I have to sit next to at the games.

October 21, 2009


Impressive article and I do like how you went into just about every statistic when it comes to a QB in the NFL. I do agree with the comments as to venue, throwing a frozen football on a frozen field on in Wisconsin is much different than throwing in a dome with perfect conditions and no wind. That said however, Peyton has had not one, but two HOF receivers and a TE that is sure to be a first ballot HOF. Even his longtime center in Saturday will be there…continuity has led Manning to his success as much as anyone in the league.

If losing Marvin Harrison has proven anything, its that Reggie Wayne has been largely ignored in Harrison’s shadow over the years and that Peyton still has someone that he is familiar with and can throw to. Favre has seen very little continuity in his career outside of their Superbowl runs at the WR position. He has also played with injuries that would have sidelined other QB’s for months. Looking at the defenses is subjective as well, given the Colts play in the hurry up offense which handicaps the defense most nights and the time of possession is almost always in favor of their opponent. That puts a tremendous amount of pressure on the defense when they need to be on the field twice as long as most of the other defenses in the league.

I am constantly amazed that statistics determines whether a QB is in fact great. Marino isn’t even in my top 15 and never will be due in part to his never having led the Dolphins to a Superbowl and won. Let us remember why the game is played and it is not wins or loses or number of yards, not even pass completion, it is to win Championships and Marino was unable to overcome his teams weaknesses and carry them to a Championship. As stated above, Manning was able to win in spite of his defense; Favre was able to win under extraordinary circumstances in the playoffs battling freezing cold temperatures, snow and even injuries to some of their key defensive personnel.

October 24, 2009

Manning all the way:

Bunch of Favre bandwagoner’s here… Brett Favre is top 3 QB all time but…how can you guys say that Elway isn’t even at favre’s level? Elway played in 5 super bowls….That’s besides the point…Peyton HAS never had the Defense that favre has had…and he calls the friggin plays at the line of scrimmage….Peyton has had Marvin Harrison true that…but he’s also spreaded the ball around equally…Look at Harrison’s numbers after Wayne got there..and None of his WR’s have ever been a physical receiver such as Donald Driver or Sterling Sharpe…. the only reason you guys love Bret Favre is because he’s played in the league forever!!! and don’t tell me he’s the greatest to ever play the position, should i remember you of the playoff game against philadelphia in 04?! Favre tossed the ball up fools!! he’s always been that way he will always throw it up(which is the best part i love about him) But its not the smart way to play!!! Peyton WILL GO DOWN IN HISTORY BETTER THAN FAVRE GET OVER IT FAVRE BANDWAGONERS..

January 21, 2010

Stephany Hernandez:

Hey to the guy who said Manning all the way, I agree with you 100%. and yes Manning all the way. GO COLTS!!!

April 5, 2010


This was a great article with tons of info. I am and always will be a Green Bay Packers fan. So I say that Brett Favre is better than Peyton Manning. For example Brett is 40 years old and is still taking his team to the NFC championship. The Vikings would have been nothing without him. I hope he stays because the way he played,,,WHY NOT. Peyton has Reggie, Clark, and Addia. Who did Favre had? Don’t you dare say Petterson, he is overrated and id the reason why they didn’t make it to the superbowl. Overall Brett is better and always will be. Peyton will retire, as Brett will die on the football field.

August 18, 2010


Who’s better: Favre or Manning? Hello? BRADY!!

August 18, 2010


Brees. He beat them both when it counted!

April 25, 2011


Nice article, but a lot of aspects of your statement are completely wrong.

You make the claim that the 96 Packers won by Desmond Howards special teams game and Bledsoes 4 Interceptions, however if you stake that, then you should say that the Chicago Bears lost because Grossman couldn’t produce any legitimate offensive push which allowed the Colts to stay and win.

Favre although playing poorly in the Post-Season, he’s actually played BETTER then Manning in the Post-Season. There’s never been One Time during the Post-Season in which Favre had a QB rating below 40…yet Manning has done this…three times!

In their Only Super Bowl Winning Season…Brett Favre dominated in the Post-Season, with a 5 TD/I INT only. How did Manning fair in his SB run? 2 TD/6 INT..hmm?

In their Super Bowl game? Brett Favre was 2 TD and 1 TD Run (You think it really was just Howard all alone? Please). How about Peyton Manning? 1 TD and 1 Int…yeah, he won MvP, but had it not of been for Howards 117 yards of return, Brett Favre would be MvP.

Favre never Ever Had the talent on the offensive side that Manning had. Manning has had arguably the best overall Offensive Unit for the decade of the 2000+ era.

Mannings numbers are that great due to the fact he had that unit. Favre has never had any true consistency through out his tenure on the offensive side, especially during his Prime Years in which he dominated the league.

Look to Favre back in 1996, he was on pace for nearly 60 TD’s, and within the first 3 games they averaged 38 ppg, and Favre had 10 TD’s to only 1 Int. Favre’s numbers only dropped due to the fact that Brooks was lost for the season, Freeman out for a few weeks with a broken arm, Chmura getting injured.

Thats like losing Harrison for the season, having Wayne gone for a few weeks, and having Clark injured and out for a few games. Yet Favre still amassed 39 TD’s relying upon 3rd and 4th stringers for a time during the 1996 tenure.

In my opinion, this is very close, but I lean more towards Favre because he’s achieved great stats with less offensive talent, and the fact that during their Super Bowl run, Favre dominated in the Regular Season and also the Post-Season, and as well in the Super Bowl too.


September 19, 2011


I wonder how this article would be written now, post-Manning’s neck injury. It really puts perspective on what Favre was able to achieve at the age of 40. One wonders how much more time Manning has. Manning’s 227 consecutive starts pales in comparison to Favre’s 321. That’s almost six full seasons!

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