Brady, McNabb far from being polar opposites

Super Bowl

February 06, 2005|By David Steele

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Tom Brady was asked last week whether he saw any similarities between himself and his counterpart in today's Super Bowl, the Philadelphia Eagles' Donovan McNabb.

His instinctive reaction: He laughed.

Not rudely or insultingly - humble by nature, the New England Patriots' two-time Super Bowl Most Valuable Player barely acknowledges any superiority over the rest at his position. But he couldn't miss the stylistic differences between himself and McNabb, either. "There are so many things I wish I could do that I'll never be able to do," he said.

On the other hand, McNabb wishes for something Brady has done that he hasn't done. "As a quarterback in this league," McNabb said, "he pretty much has what we want."

The presence of both here is something the NFL has to love: two unquestioned stars at the game's marquee position, both fitting the image of what a Super Bowl quarterback should be. No Trent Dilfer vs. Kerry Collins this year.

McNabb and Brady won't be managing the game, trying not to lose, letting their worthier teammates do the heavy lifting. But what they will be doing will resemble each other in more ways than is evident on the surface.

Troy Aikman - whose feat of winning three Super Bowls in four years with the 1990s Dallas Cowboys is what Brady is trying to match - also recognizes the similarities.

"To me [with] a quarterback, the main thing comes down to winning, and doing what you have to do to move your team downfield to score," said Aikman, who will analyze the game for Fox-TV. "From that standpoint, they're very much alike, but their way about doing it is somewhat different.

"With Donovan, people automatically call him a scrambler, and he really is not; he hasn't scrambled that much this year. He looks to throw the football, as does Brady.

"Now, if Brady wanted to run more than he does, he probably couldn't do it as well as Donovan does. But the way they're both playing within the offense as passers, they're very much alike."

The results are strikingly similar; Brady's career regular-season winning percentage is the best of all quarterbacks in the Super Bowl era at .774 (48-14), and McNabb's is fourth best at .709 (56-23), behind Roger Staubach and Joe Montana.

Brady is 8-0 in the playoffs, and McNabb is 7-4.

In the past four seasons, the Patriots are 56-16, including the postseason, and the Eagles are 54-19.

The difference, of course, is that this is McNabb's first Super Bowl after three straight NFC championship-game losses. If much of the football world holds that against McNabb, Brady does not.

"He was a great player when he entered the league," Brady said. "He's continued to work, he's throwing the ball well, he's very strong, he's very elusive - he can do it all."

Including stay on course despite the crushing disappointments. "Those three NFC championships had to be hard on him; he's had to think about it the whole offseason," Brady said.

Brady hasn't had many offseasons like that; he has played in three postseasons and has yet to lose a game.

"You really have to admire him. You're talking about a guy who has won two MVP trophies and two Super Bowls," McNabb said. "He could easily run off and say how great he was, but he doesn't.

"I think both of us are big-time competitors; both of us are big leaders," he continued. "We're passionate about what we do and are willing to do whatever it takes to help win a football game. ... The quarterback position, you get all the criticism as well as all of the attention. The way to handle it is to stay humble and to make sure [to explain] to the rest of the guys that we are all in this thing together."

That's why each quarterback deflects credit for his presence here to others.

Brady has had to ward off attempts to anoint him as a member of the pantheon of quarterbacks at the expense of his largely anonymous and surprisingly interchangeable teammates, a cause that was not helped by an image in Friday's Florida Times-Union, a cartoon-superhero montage of Super Bowl legends featuring Montana, Joe Namath, Terry Bradshaw, John Elway - and Brady.

McNabb, meanwhile, has been the quarterback who can't win the big one, even though there would never be big ones to lose if not for him dragging along an offense bereft of star performers the previous three seasons.

McNabb politicked for the inclusion of Terrell Owens, but that acquisition only solidified his own status, because without his powerful presence on the field and in the huddle and locker room, the Eagles could not have withstood Owens' personality.

It also signaled the shift in his reputation from runner to accurate passer. If McNabb were so one-dimensional, he would not be on this stage. If Brady were any less dimensional, he would never had made it in the first place.

"I really hate that whole concept of a `game manager," " Aikman said. "You have to have the quarterback be the one who can win or lose for you. If you don't have that kind of quarterback, then you have a problem."

Brady and McNabb are that kind of quarterback, whether they look like complete opposites or not.

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