Brownback Praises Manning in Wisconsin, Gets Booed

Sam Brownback got into a bit of hot water with a Wisconsin crowd Friday by implying Payton Manning wasn’t as good as Brett Favre.

The GOP presidential hopeful drew boos and groans Friday at the Wisconsin Republican Party convention when he used a football analogy to talk about the need to focus on families. “This is fundamental blocking and tackling,” he said. “This is your line in football. If you don’t have a line, how many passes can Peyton Manning complete? Greatest quarterback, maybe, in NFL history.”

Oops, wrong team to mention in Wisconsin, once described by Gov. Tommy Thompson as the place “where eagles soar, Harleys roar and Packers score.” Realizing what he had said, the Kansas Republican slumped at the podium and put his head in his hands. “That’s really bad,” he said. “That will go down in history. I apologize.”

His apology brought a smattering of applause and laughter. He tried to recover, saying former Packer Bart Starr may be the greatest of all time, but the crowd was still restless. “Let’s take Favre then,” Brownback said. “The Packers are great. I’m sorry. How many passes does he complete without a line?” “All of them!” more than one person yelled from the back. “I’m not sure how I recover from this,” Brownback said. “My point is we’ve got to rebuild the family. I’ll get off this.”

Pretty amusing.

From a political angle, this is probably a wash for Brownback, since his recovery was handled well enough. Not to mention the fact Starr and Favre both have far more chance of getting elected president in 2008 than he does; Manning would, too, were he old enough to be eligible.

In a football context, comparing quarterbacks from three eras is tough. Starr is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Starr and Manning will surely join him the first year they’re eligible. Starr led the Packers to five NFL championships, including the first two Super Bowls. That’s an unmatched achievement. That was in a much smaller league in an era long before free agency, though, so a great team could stay on top much more easily than today.

Favre is a three-time NFL MVP, the only man with that distinction. He led the Packers to two Super Bowls, winning the first. He has been famous in recent years not so much for his excellence, though, but his endurance and tenacity. He’s started more consecutive games, by far, than any quarterback in history, a streak that looks like it’ll only be broken in retirement. That streak is all the more impressive because of the personal tragedies he’s endured in recent years.

Manning is fresh off his first Super Bowl win and is statistically the best passer of the three. He may, indeed, be the best pure quarterback ever to play the game from a technical standpoint. He’s got a ways to go, however, to move ahead of the likes of Starr, Favre, Terry Bradshaw, Roger Staubach, Joe Montana, and Troy Aikman on the accomplishments scale.

Crosspost to OTB Sports

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2008, Sports
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Triumph says:

    Pretty amusing.

    Pretty pathetic that Wisconsin Republicans would get all worked up about an analogy.

    These people need to lighten up. This is an example of “political correctness” at its worse.

  2. John Gibson says:

    He’s got a ways to go, however, to move ahead of the likes of Starr, Favre, Terry Bradshaw, Roger Staubach, Joe Montana, and Troy Aikman on the accomplishments scale.

    Noone, not Starr, not Favre, not Bradshaw, not Staubach, not Montana and not Aikman have won a championship with less surrounding talent than Peyton had.

    When it’s all said and done, Peyton goes down as the second greatest QB (behind Unitas) to ever live.

  3. James Joyner says:

    Noone … won a championship with less surrounding talent than Peyton had.

    That’s only true in the sense that Manning is playing in an era with no great teams. That’s just the nature of expansion, free agency, and the salary cap. Probably none of them ever won a Super Bowl against a team as bad as the 2006-7 Bears, either.

  4. Pretty pathetic that Wisconsin Republicans would get all worked up about an analogy.

    These people need to lighten up. This is an example of “political correctness” at its worse.

    Part of it is a lack of respect. Second, we Wisconsinites love and are obsessed about our Packers. It’s like an entire state of Cubs fans. It would be like going to Edmonton and claiming Mario Lemuix was the greatest hockey player ever. It’s not that big a deal, but it showed Brownback failed to understand his audience.

  5. G.A. Phillips says:

    John Gibson, give Farve the great Marvin Harrison for half as long as Manning has had him and what do you think would have happened? and if you think Unitas and Manning are the No.1 and No.2 Quaterbacks of all time, man, you are as crazy as a liberal. Go Pack Go!!!!!

  6. Rick DeMent says:

    What I find amusing is this tripe about focusing on families. Truth is that without an abundance of good paying jobs for people without collage degrees there will never be the kind of nuclear family structure like we saw in the 50’s and 60’s again (rather without a complete return to agrarian economy). Fact is that the “traditional family” was a very short lived phenomena that lasted about 30 years tops when you could get a job that would support a family without a collage degree.

    Not only are those days long gone but even a collage degree is not any kind of guarantee of a decent paying job and as we go forward it will be lass and lass so. I wonder what Brownback’s solution is?

    What is amusing to me is that his football gaff drew more criticism then his phony pandering platitudes about focusing on families.

  7. James Joyner says:

    It never occurred to me that collages figured so prominently in skewing our economy.

    I’m a bit dubious of the idea that the ’50s and ’60’s were a halcyon era for semi-skilled laborers. It’s true that there was a highly paid manufacturing sector but that was limited to a handful of major cities. Otherwise, the service economy has surely provided more decent jobs for the masses.

    We’re certainly living in bigger houses, driving nicer cars, and otherwise consuming luxury items at a rater that would astonish our 1950s forebears.

  8. John Gibson says:

    G.A.,

    Favre has had some pretty good receivers but I’m talking more about no defense than anything else. No other Super Bowl winning quarterback has ever had to score more points on fewer possessions then what was required of Manning this past season. The litany of great QBs had nowhere near that pressure on their backs as they had competent defenses giving them plenty of opportunities to work their magic.

    Unitas is at the top of my list for defining what it means to be a quarterback in a way that transcends eras.