It’s Brady vs. Manning XVI in the snow at Foxborough!
This matchup has been broken down from every conceivable angle. Bill Barnwell went back and reviewed every game the two hall-of-fame quarterbacks have played against each other. Bill Simmons argued that Brady is more content to follow his coaches than Peyton because he grew up with older sisters (Simmons was an only child, forgive him for obsessing about siblings). I was going to try and break down today’s game based on each quarterback’s astrological signs (I mean, Peyton Manning is such an Aries, amirite?) but then I remembered that this has all gotten completely out of control and it was up to me to add some levity to all the somber monument constructing that’s been going on this past week. So let’s talk about Brady v. Manning in terms of their secondary careers as professional entertainers.
It’s important to remember that a large part of Peyton’s nerdy populist appeal is his incredible ease in front of the camera. Peyton is equally charming and natural whether he’s forcing a non-existent chemistry with Papa John, or he’s teaching children how to break into a car on SNL. Peyton is so relatable (to unathletic middle-aged white men) in large part because he seems like a regular guy in front of the camera, and because who hasn’t come home from work with a giant red spot on their forehead? Tom Brady has movie star looks but is painfully stilted in commercials and in his interviews he exhibits a friendlier version of Belichick’s “I’m here to talk about the Bears” approach. He’s like Joe Biden without all the gaffes.
Here’s Peyton’s best SNL skit. Notice how it is all Peyton: the camera never leaves him as he plays against type by portraying himself as a merciless sociopath. (wait, is that against type?)
Here’s Brady best SNL skit. It’s funny mostly because Tom doesn’t do much acting and serves as a pretty face. Also, he grabs Amy Poehler’s breast, which is a wonderful moment for me personally, since I love breasts, Tom Brady, and Amy Poehler. Sadly, this is the only remotely watchable clip from Tom’s lone SNL hosting gig in 2005.
Peyton is also just more at ease with himself and his body than Tom. We can see this by how stupid Peyton’s helmet looks in comparison to Tom’s.
We can also see this when they both dance.
Again, from Peyton’s SNL episode:
Peyton might have had professional dancing instruction, since he was on SNL, which presumably employs professionals who can coach Peyton how to play Will Forte’s leg so expertly.
We should probably judge Peyton by his natural dancing ability, by what he brings when the music starts and he just feels it.
Actually, they are remarkably similar. Peyton is a bad dancer, but he owns it, like a Dad intent on embarrassing his daughter while chaperoning her middle school dance.
Tom is bad, but it’s his lack of confidence that kills him. He’s confused about what to do with his hands. He has a “am I doing it right?” vibe.
A good way to judge a professional athlete’s charisma and charm is to see what happens when the questions get weird and the athlete has to turn off the auto-pilot. Tom manages to skillfully take this super weird question, chuckle at it, and still make the cliché work.
Tom remains cordial and even compliments the weird 1920’s reporter guy for the question. That’s a nice piece of improvisation. But Peyton agrees to get interviewed by Will Ferrell in character as Ron Burgundy. He steps into the ring with an improv master, and he holds his own, even when Ron says he looks like a “succulent baby lamb.”
Okay, maybe it wasn’t all improvised.
Brady is on-key, like, most of the time here. I think he did just fine. JUST FINE.
Peyton’s performance here seems better until you remember that Brady was singing LIVE and that Manning probably had Katy Perry-level post production done on his voice to make it sound acceptable.
This is no contest. Take away things like voice inflection, comedic timing, and natural delivery and make it all a looks contest and Peyton has no chance.
Tom modeled the shit out of that picture. Conversely, Papa John looks sexier than Peyton. It’s also worth noting that Peyton has Roger Goodell hair in this picture.
Peyton is better, but only because he has much better weapons than Tom. (Amy Poehler’s SNL era DVOA was actually not that great).