February 4, 2007

Super Bowl Warm-Up

The storyline in the sporting press had long been that Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning was a choker while Boston Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was a clutch player … until two weeks ago when Manning engineered a last minute drive to take the lead in the AFC Championship game, and Brady responded by throwing a bad interception to seal the Patriots' fate.

Personally, I don't much believe in the popular choker vs. hero distinction for top professional athletes. You can't get to Peyton Manning's level without succeeding countless times in pressure situations going back to age 8.

Now, I've seen golfers clearly choke -- Mark Calcavecchia foozling his teeshot so badly on the 17th hole in the 1991 Ryder Cup that it didn't make it more than halfway across the lake is the most obvious example. But most other sports are less pressure-packed because the players typically are in motion and don't have to initiate the most difficult moves from a dead standstill like in golf.

The difference between Manning's and Peyton's record in playoff games before two weeks ago (5-6 for Manning, 12-1 for Brady) probably had more to do with small sample sizes than with actual differences between the men. They are both outstanding quarterbacks.

One thing, though, is that Brady is a particularly magnificent looking quarterback. The confident way he paws the turf with his right foot just before receiving the snap when in shotgun formation seems like am arrogant stallion just before the Kentucky Derby. Manning, however, is the most skittish-looking quarterback I've ever seen. In contrast to Brady's economy of motion, Manning's constantly shuffling his feet in a seemingly nervous manner, which I suspect contributes to all the second-guessing he has endured. Plus, Brady is very handsome, while Manning is a bit funny-looking for such an outstanding athlete.


By the way, Inductivist updates an analysis he did for me early in the 2005 season, which I turned into a VDARE.com article, and finds once again in the 2006 season that the more white players a team has on the bench, the more games it wins. It's not a superstrong correlation, but it seems to have been consistently there in the last four years.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer


Unknown said...


I think you're mostly right about Peyton, but he might have contributed to a "team choke" in the past. Team chemistry, while tough to quantify, plays a huge role in team success.

In past play off losses, I think the Colts have mostly been outplayed by better teams, and sometimes outcoached. They're skill players allowed them to get to the play offs, but you need the whole package to succeed at the highest level.

Peyton is a very intense competitor. He pushes--hard. When he got behind in key situations he pushed even harder and made mistakes which was demoralizing for his less talented teammates who depended on him.

I want the Colts to win today, but if I were a betting man, I'd take the Bears. I think the Chicago defense will be able to contain the Colts. Bears 17-10.

Anonymous said...

1) Yes the Colts have mostly lost to better teams in the past, although they had enough chances that they probably should have broken through once, there is not a lot of huge choking that went on. Also yes you have the small sample sizes. Interestingly enough, it was their terrible defense that killed them in the past (Brady's team generally had good or great D), and last year their defense didn't suck for the first time in his era, but they did lose to an inferior team (Steelers) at home and Manning didn't play well. If there's one real choke that was it. And then this year his defense went back to being terrible all season, and they were probably the 4th team in the AFC, but here they are in the Super Bowl.

2) There's actually a specific intentional reason that Manning does that 'nervous' thing with his feet, and it's not because of nerves. It's something his father taught him to do to protect himself from injury in the pocket. You're much more likely to be injured if you get hit when your feet are firmly planted. Hard to argue when he's got a huge consecutive games played streak going.

Thursday said...

One thing, though, is that Brady is a particularly magnificent looking quarterback.

You said it, Steve. When you're that good looking and a Super Bowl winning quarterback this is your reward. I wouldn't mind being Peyton Manning, but man, I have to admit it, I sorely wish I was Tom Brady.

Steve Sailer said...

From What Would Tyler Durden Do?:

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (29) and Bridget Moynahan (35) have broken up after dating for the past three years. A rep for Moynahan said:

“(They) amicably ended their three-year relationship several weeks ago. We ask for your respect and consideration of their privacy. No further comments will be made."

This chick might as well go gay because no dude is gonna wanna follow Tom Brady. He won the Super Bowl three times, he's richer than most countries and he looks like a damn model. I made a list of the guys who have more to offer a girl than Tom Brady:

1. Bruce Wayne

And that was pretty much it.


Anonymous said...

..............maybe second team white players play cheaper, thus allowing the franchise to splurge on superstar starting black athletes?

Just a guess.

Brady has a great throwing motion and a winning, one-of-the-boys attituted. You can tell his teammates just love the guy.

Anonymous said...


I think Bridget Moynahan will survive -- there's probably a wealthy writer-producer in her future. Too bad for her she didn't have a son by Brady though. She could have hung a tire from a tree in the backyard and had that kid throw a football through it as soon as he was old enough to stand.

Interesting comment from Tony Dungy though, after the game. The CBS sportscaster was talking about the significance of two black coaches, and Dungy instead emphasized that he and Smith were both Christian coaches. The owner of the Colts seems to be a born-again type too. Goes to what you wrote before about the role of evangelical Christianity in overcoming some of the trust issues of diversity.


Anonymous said...

i don't agree at all. i think the "statistical variation" argument is a bunch of BS. brady is clearly the better player under pressure, and manning fades in the crunch.

it's amazing how much brady can get done with backup level players. manning has had a better team, with better players at almost every position, every single year he's been in the NFL.

this year, brady was playing with probably the worst team he's ever led, and the colts had a fully loaded and healthy team and still barely beat the patriots at home. i mean, the patriots had division I scrubs at receiver and still almost won.

if you switched the teams, brady would have 4 or 5 superbowl rings and manning would have zero.

manning faded again in the superbowl, turning in yet another below average playoff performance for a player of his caliber.

Anonymous said...

manning turned in a quarterback rating of 81.7 in this game. his career rating is 94.4

rather than supporting the "statistical variation" idea, statistics themselves point in exactly the opposite direction.

i will have to check to see what the lowest rating a superbowl MVP quarterback has turned in.

i don't even want to get into how white players are discriminated against. at least dungy is one of the few coaches who admits it happens.

Anonymous said...


he went 81.7 (which is not a bad rating) against the second best defense in the NFL. I guarantee the Bears didn't give up 81.7 more than a couple times all year.

Not to mention conditions were slightly tough, at least enough to cause the other QB problems.

Your Brady comparisons will never be more than very subjective, the NFL being an 11 man team game of course.

Anonymous said...

The reason Manning got the MVP was because the two running backs split the workload. If one of them had their combined stats, he would have been MVP.

BTW, what are the chances Tank Johnson violates his parole?


Anonymous said...

81.7 is the lowest rating a superbowl quarterback MVP has ever scored. so, you're wrong. very, very wrong. 80.0 is considered the average. 80.0 is what the average NFL quarterback scores in a 17 game season.

the bears defense is overrated, and will continue to be as long as the NFC is weak. last season, the bears defense was particularly overrated.

i'll post the quarterback numbers in my next post. and, if you want, i will post numbers laters that show how the bears defense is overrated.

Anonymous said...

i got the numbers for all 21 superbowl MVP quarterbacks from wikipedia and computed their ratings at primecomputing.com

67 bart starr 116.2
68 bart starr 96.1
69 joe namath 83.3
70 len dawson 90.8
72 roger staubach 115.8
79 terry bradshaw 133.8
80 terry bradshaw 141.4
81 jim plunkett 145.0
82 joe montana 100.0
85 joe montana 127.2
87 phil simms 150.9
88 doug williams 127.8
90 joe montana 147.5
92 mark rypien 91.9
93 troy aikman 140.6
95 steve young 134.8
99 john elway 113.5
00 kurt warner 99.6
02 tom brady 86.1
04 tom brady 100.5
07 peyton manning 81.7

additionally, in 05, when brady did not win the MVP, he realistically could have with this performance:

05 tom brady 110.1

so, yeah, brady is better. some of these MVPs put up numbers so gaudy that manning looks terrible next to them.

people better start using numbers to argue, or i'll simply consider this argument 100% over.

Anonymous said...


You keep saying whites are discriminated against in the NFL. How do you explain when people kiss the ass of certain white players like Brian Urlacher? What kind of top middle linebacker lets his team get run on like that between the tackles? He was invisible last night.

Anonymous said...

I am a Patriots fan but I don't really understand Manning-hatred so intense that it won't even give him credit for having finally won.

Anonymous said...

He does seem to have not deserved the MVP in this game, but in the AFC Championship game he performed well under pressure. There was clearly a crunch in that game that he did not fade in.

Anonymous said...

1) The performance wasn't utterly dominant, but there were few other MVP candidates. Peyton's performance was still very good, if not awesome.

2) The weather was a factor, depressing offensive statistics.

3) QB Rating is a poor metric for measuring QB performance, as is whatever you're using to call the Bears D (2nd in the league to the Ravens) overrated. I have better metrics, they are at www.footballoutsiders.com. The QB DPAR metric isn't posted yet for the superbowl, but the Colts offense posted a number AHEAD of their season average. Choking indeed.

4) Brady is not better, you want numbers? Check out DPAR at footballoutsiders.com, a FAR FAR superior statistic to any conventional/old stat. Peyton crushed the league this season, as he does almost every season. His DPAR for the superbowl will likely be very very good as well, as it takes into account 3rd down conversions, the quality of the defense faced, and the fact that his interception was on 3rd and 12 around midfield (the least killer down and position to throw one).

Anonymous said...

I read that the Bears defense is the second best defense in the NFL. That is dead wrong, the result of lazy statistical analysis.

The Bears defense was the BEST in the NFL, but then they lost two of their best players to injury (Mike Brown and Tommie Harris). After that, they were nowhere near the best defense.

Anonymous said...

QB rating is in fact a decent statistical tool, though it measures the team's passing game better than individual QB play.

Peyton Manning's reputation for choking was well-earned. He has consistently played more poorly in pressure games, NFL and college. The sample size was huge, and the trend was unmistakable. It appears that he finally overcame his mental barriers at halftime of the AFC title game.

If the Colts had a featured running back, he would have easily won the MVP award. The running back by committee approach forced them to give the MVP to Manning, who had a good game.

Anonymous said...

They lost Mike Brown at the beginning of the season so that's irrelevant.

The loss of Harris was important, and knocked them down some, but they still performed will against for example the Saints.

Anonymous said...

I don't think I've met a single football fan (from the diehard Colts fan (I'm in Colts country) to the biggest Peyton-haters) that think he really deserved the MVP. I agree with the split running back vote theory.

If I'd give it to someone, it'd be Jeff Saturday. He was a monster on Sunday.

I also agree with the comments that Brady is iconic. Even his (relative) unwillingness to shill products is ideal. Manning is so awkward in the pocket that it hurts and he's kinda goofy looking.

What I believe distinguishes Manning more than any other quarterback (perhaps Brady) is the autonomy granted to him by the coaches. Assuming the conventional wisdom is correct, he really does 'run the offense' and had the wisdom to repeatedly run the ball or throw short passes. A lesser quarterback with a bigger ego may have forced more passes.

Anonymous said...


You don't consider Mickelson at the US Open to be a choke? Or was that just a monumental series of 'big-ego' errors as opposed to a case of nerves?

Steve Sailer said...

Mickelson blowing the U.S. Open on the last hole was pretty funny, although a lot of it seemed more Phil's lovable dumbness than nervousness.

Anonymous said...

I've changed my mind, based on some advanced stats, Peyton absolutely does deserve the MVP.

In this statistic he scored a 9.3, which is far above the per game average of every other QB in the league (though slightly below his own incredibly high season average). He scored very well in this statistic mostly due to excellent third down conversions.

Anonymous said...

The stat can be seen and is described here...


Anonymous said...

Having coached football I can tell you that Brady "paws the turf... just before receiving the snap" to tell the center he can snap the ball when he is ready. It is a way to handle the crowd noise in a loud stadium.

Manning's gyrations (hand signals, waving etc..) are the result of him changing the play at the line in order to take advantage of the defensive alignment.

You are right about Brady though, he looks like a GQ model, whereas Manning, well, doesn't.

Anonymous said...

I just didn't think Peyton fit it with the team that well and during the super bowl there was people posting things about him in the sports wikipedia that he didn't fit in as well.