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Former NFL safety Bernard Pollard thinks Peyton Manning was better than Tom Brady

Peyton Manning, Tom Brady

Tom Brady made abundantly clear last season that he’s still one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. But even the most biased New England Patriots fans would have to admit that their quarterback, nearly two decades since he was drafted and firmly into his forties, is playing at a level decidedly below his peak. That’s no slight, of course. Brady is universally considered one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history both for his incredible longevity and the height of his playing prime.

It’s the latter distinction, though, that one of the six-time Super Bowl winner’s most infamous former foes falls short of Peyton Manning in the historical hierarchy. Bernard Pollard, who ended Brady’s season in the 2008 opener with a low tackle that resulted in a torn ACL, believes the Indianapolis Colts legend is a better player than Brady in large part because he was dominant with the Denver Broncos toward the end of his career, too. The former Kansas City Chiefs safety even went so far as to suggest Brady is a “system” quarterback while reacting to NFL.com’s ranking of the top-25 quarterbacks of all time.

“Y’all crazy! Peyton is #1 no doubt! Can’t go by rings. The things he did on two different teams are mind blowing. Tom Brady is clear cut #2. Tom has played in a system that works (no doubt he’s been special), Peyton WAS the system,” he wrote on Twitter.

Pollard, a nine-year veteran, retired in 2014.

There’s no right answer to the Brady-Manning debate. Pollard’s years of competing against both in the AFC during their primes certainly adds weight to his assessment, too. But if Brady leads the Patriots to Super Bowl contention again in 2019, without Rob Gronkowski, the “system quarterback” argument will ring hollower than ever.