You don’t need to tell me Manning was great, I’m convinced already. :)
While I stand by the popularity, my arguments stands even if that is conceded. The problem is that you misunderstood what “stat padding” means in the context of my argument. I wasn’t saying that Manning intentionally accumulated unnecessary stats, I’m saying that having superior weapons and playing in a dome is going to organically inflate production.
As an example, did Brady suddenly become a great QB in 2007? Or is the contrast between that season and his 2006 production primarily due to going from having some of the worst weaponry of his career to some of the best? The fact of the matter is, there is no purely QB-centric statistic.
That’s why it is important to look deeper to see more context. If simply correcting for domes — even with Brady at a disadvantage of being only on the road — moves Tom ahead, that is seriously compelling. It means Manning’s surface edge in production is negated, as is anything derived from it, like all pro designations. If you want to maintain the argument, you have to look elsewhere. (I’ll give you a couple, Brady’s coaching has been superior and he typically had the benefit of better OL play.)
EDIT: This negation also allows us to bring in other factors, like Brady’s otherworldly record when throwing 50+ times, or the fact that only once in the past 8 playoff games has NE’s leading rusher cracked 50 yards. Three times the rusher fail to reach 20! And in that time, NE has gone 7–1 with the only loss on the road by 2 points against the eventual champion. It’s not like the defense was carrying the team, either, they allowed 20+ points in 5 of the 8 games. Or, again, the fact that Brady has a higher winning percentage in high scoring games when the defense fails… something you would expect Manning to have the lead in based on the narrative.
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To summarize and hopefully clarify, I don’t contend that Manning deserved being named all pro in those seasons, I contend that the designation doesn’t carry the weight that your initial argument implied.