The sheriff Peyton Manning finally retires. A teary-eyed Peyton Manning held the retirement press conference every big time player knows is coming and bid adieu to the sport that is everything he knows. It was a decision most of us saw coming and with a Super Bowl title fresh out of the oven there was no better way for Manning to retire from the NFL than this. For many, the Title IX allegations at the University of Tennessee and the HGH allegations from Al Jazeera will be a big part of why he decided to call it quits now and it very well might be. However, for now, Manning followed his mother’s advice and finally decided to say Omaha one last time and save the rest of us from hearing the newscasters talk about it one more time.
1 final word.
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) March 7, 2016
So we naturally move towards the question of where does Peyton Manning rank after 18 years in the NFL?
It has been a question we have been discussing for years and especially when he first had neck surgery during his time in Indianapolis. Manning, like most great quarterbacks, found a way to stay upright in addition to some good protection from the offensive line. Peyton was cunning and a detail oriented player that truly ran the field like a chef in a kitchen or a sheriff in an old western town. As a Texans fan, I cannot detail the number of times Manning tormented us year in and year out. I never believed a lead was safe as long as number 18 was on the other sideline. As a young fan growing up, the legend of Peyton Manning first grew when I was sitting on the floor in my parents room watching Monday Night Football. It was a game between the Indianapolis Colts and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Tampa and the Bucs were having their way most of the night. Most people probably went to bed, as did my parents, and thought the game was over in the last 8 minutes of the game with the Colts trailing by 21 points. Then, as if the final scene of a movie, Peyton orchestrated his team to a surprising comeback to tie the game with the help some onside kick action and then win it in overtime. I knew then never to count out the great number 18.
As the years go on it will be interesting to see how we rank players. Right now, we have older footage but it is seemingly different because so much of the legend of former players is better expressed through the words of other former players in my opinion. Thanks to HD footage and coverage of basically everything, moving forward it will be fun to see how quickly we compare players.
What are the players that first come up when I ask you who are the greatest quarterbacks of all time?
Montana, Young, Marino, Aikman, Favre, Starr, Staubach, and Bradshaw are probably the most common. Those players laid the foundation and then built the game up to where it is today. In total, the 8 quarterbacks listed have won 17 Super Bowl titles over their respective careers and set numerous records in the process. So where do we put Peyton? Do these players always keep their place and do we just put each succeeding player behind them? How can we compare eras?
Peyton has 2 Super Bowl titles, the touchdown record for a career and single season, most MVP’s (5), and many more records. Many people believed Peyton needed a second title before he retired from the NFL to assure his status as one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. However, to me, it is more than that. The issue is whether you are judging the greatest quarterback or the greatest passer. They are totally different things to me because there are those who are just pure passers with incredible accuracy and range who can sling it and there are those who just win by leadership and do enough to win titles. Of course, Russell Wilson has a long career ahead of him and he is a very good passer, however, I would put him as a good quarterback now versus a good passer. Now that Lynch will not be coming back, I think the Seahawks will unleash a little more of what we saw towards the end of last season with Wilsons aerial attack but that is neither here nor there.
Manning needed every bit of that championship defense to win that second title and there are those who will point out how he came up short and short again during his tenure in Indianapolis and the first two years in Denver. However, at the end of the day his numbers are what his numbers are and he will be a Hall Of Fame Quarterback.
I honestly would put Peyton behind most of the players I listed above and Brady whenever Tom decides to hang up the cleats in New England. I respect the dedication Manning had to the game and how frustratingly beautiful it was to watch him do so, however, so much had to go right for him to win and the best of the best made it happen when so much was going wrong for them. It is no comment on Manning as a player but it is just the way I have to rank him based on his play on the field.