Hall of Famer Tony Dungy recently ranked Tom Brady as the sixth-toughest quarterback in NFL history to defend.
In a black-and-white world that sees only rings, this is blasphemous.
In a nuanced conversation that doesn’t value quarterback wins as the only stat (or a stat at all), there’s plenty of room to consider that other signal-callers might have been better than Brady.
Who does Dungy rank ahead of Brady?
Dungy named Aaron Rodgers, Steve Young, John Elway and, of course, Peyton Manning on his list. He defended the ranking in a recent appearance on Shannon Sharpe’s podcast.
“I’m never putting Tom Brady ahead of Peyton Manning, so the best he can be is two,” Dungy told Sharpe. “Cause Peyton was my guy. The highest he could ever get is two.
“Then I started thinking of who gave me real problems? John Elway. You could do everything right, have the perfect defense. He’s gonna move around and make something happen and kill you.
“Steve Young was the same way — those mobile quarterbacks. That’s who I put ahead of Tom. Aaron Rodgers, John Elway, Steve Young — guys who could move. Not to say Tom wasn’t great. He is great. But that extra dimension meant something to me. That’s why I would only put him at six.”
Brady and Dungy have history, of course. Dungy’s and Manning’s Indianapolis Colts frequently battled Brady’s New England Patriots, with the franchises meeting twice in the AFC championship game during Dungy’s tenure.
Brady’s Patriots prevailed in 2004 en route to Brady’s second Super Bowl ring. Dungy’s Colts won a classic in 2007 en route to a Super Bowl victory over the Chicago Bears.
The Patriots also beat the Colts in the 2015 AFC championship game following the 2014 season in a matchup that launched the deflate-gate controversy.
Brady’s not-so-perfect response to Dungy
Brady — or whomever’s running his social media — responded to Dungy’s ranking with a take of his own, posting an image on Twitter of the Colts’ “2014 AFC Finalist” banner hanging in Lucas Oil Stadium, referencing that season.
Brady’s attempted scoreboard burn has a problem. Dungy had nothing to do with that game. He was retired from NFL coaching six seasons at that point. Chuck Pagano coached the Colts in 2014. Manning was long gone too, helming the Denver Broncos while making way for the Andrew Luck era.
Overall, Brady is 15-4 against the Colts, including the playoffs. During the Dungy era, Brady is 5-3 against Indianapolis including a 2-1 edge in the postseason.
So while Brady’s broader point that the Patriots got the best of Dungy’s Colts stands true, his execution in the world of Twitter trash talk on Tuesday was far from flawless.
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