Over the weekend New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter had a special guest pay him a visit at Yankee Stadium. Five-time NFL Most Valuable Player Peyton Manning showed up to pay his respects to Jeter, who announced recently this would be his last season. There were many pictures snapped of the two mega-athletes standing around the batting cage, which immediately prompted a lively debate; who is the greatest….Manning or Jeter?
I really see no reason to have this debate at all. They have both achieved more than they ever dreamed possible; even more than most any other athlete has ever achieved. Plus, they each play different sports. So why have this debate? Because we are sports fans, that’s why. It gives us a subject to show how little or how much we know. It makes for interesting conversation, but it still means absolutely nothing.
Derek Jeter and Peyton Manning are my two favorite athletes from their era. Peyton is 37 years old, while Jeter is a couple of years older at 39. Manning has been called the “greatest regular season quarterback in NFL history” He is a five-time league MVP, with one Super Bowl MVP honor and one Super Bowl Championship ring. His most recent regular season (2013) ended in the greatest season for a quarterback in NFL history. We all remember that meltdown his Denver Broncos had in losing the Super Bowl to the Seattle Seahawks in February, but great players are not judged by one game.
Jeter on the other hand has been a special player for almost twenty years with the same Major League Club. He has five World Series Championship rings making him one of the winningest players ever. He has more than 3,000 career hits placing him seventh on the all-time list. He is sure to be a first ballot Hall of Famer five years after his retirement, and he is being called the greatest shortstop to ever play the game of baseball. As far as individual records are concerned, Manning has a big edge.
Don’t you know that this subject about their greatness is the absolute last thing either one of them had on their minds this weekend? If they have gotten wind of the discussion, they are probably laughing out loud as to how totally insane sports fans can be. Peyton showed up at Yankee Stadium to honor his good friend Derek Jeter and to see him play one more time, before he hangs his cleats up for good. That’s it; that’s all it was about. Jeter said he plans to also see Peyton play again as soon as he can. It’s a mutual respect thing between two of the most amazing professional athletes of our generation.
As many have said on internet sites as they debated who is the greatest, Peyton or Jeter, it seems to be about winning in the post season. If that’s the only real criteria for this discussion…number of World Championship rings…then both Peyton and Jeter would have to take a back seat to Yogi Berra who has nine rings. That’s right, count ‘em: nine World Series rings, all with the Yankees. However, there is one more Hall of Famer who would scoot Yogi to the passenger side of the car, and demand to drive. Bill Russell, the former all-time great center for the Boston Celtics has eleven rings for his 11 NBA World Championships. Russell is called the greatest champion in American sports history. So when sports fans begin to debate about who is greater, maybe they should narrow the criteria a bit. Or, maybe just leave things alone.
Randy Smith has been covering sports on radio, television and print for the past 45 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has written two books, and has continued to free-lance as a play-by-play announcer. He is currently teaching Broadcasting at Coahulla Creek High School near Dalton, Ga.
His career has included a 17-year stretch as host of the Kickoff Call In Show on the University of Tennessee’s prestigious Vol Network. He has been a member of the Vol Network staff for thirty years.
He has done play-by-play on ESPN, ESPN II, CSS, and Fox SportSouth, totaling more than 500 games, and served as a well-known sports anchor on Chattanooga Television for more than a quarter-century.
In 2003, he became the first television broadcaster to be inducted into the Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame. Randy and his wife Shelia reside in Hixson. They have two married children, (Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith.) They have three grandchildren, Coleman, Boone and DellaMae.
To contact Randy: email@example.com