Last night, the sports world was graced with the most unsurprising breaking news in the history of history. Peyton Manning, according first to the Denver Post, called it quits in the NFL. He goes out on top, having won Super Bowl 50 and earned ownership of several career passing records.
Now, I’m not going to throw numbers at you. I’m sure every single article you read will do that. I’m not going to bring up his mysterious HGH scandal or his newest scandal with the University of Tennessee. I don’t like him as a football player, but I won’t tear him down for the sake of just tearing him down.
I want to talk legacy. It’s officially time to, anyways. This is the first full day that we can all talk about where Manning sits in the history of the game. You know, the first day that there actually isn’t a ‘next season’ for him to change his legacy one way or the other.
One thing is certain- he is one of the two best quarterbacks in this generation. He consistently was a league leader in passing yards, attempts, completions, touchdowns and wins in the regular season. He is twice the holder of the single-season passing touchdown mark (49 in 2004, 55 in 2013). 18 will be forever remembered for his accuracy, for saving Indianapolis football (ew), and for being the signal-caller on some dynamic offenses. His signature hurry-up offense and audibles at the line were revolutionary to the game. Simply put, the reason the NFL is so passer-friendly now is due to Peyton. It’s an entertaining brand of one of the greatest games out there, so I guess I owe him that much.
He’ll also be known for questionable playoff play; I’ll put my bias aside and admit he isn’t the worst playoff quarterback ever. But, he’s never been a great quarterback in January and February. He’s never been the primary cause of a team’s march through January into winning the last game (had a bad playoff run in 2006, too). He’ll always have that stereotype of not being able to play in the playoffs, in my opinion; you can’t forget the fact that he has the most playoff losses and playoff one-and-dones of any QB ever.
As far as quarterbacks who have already retired, I think he’s the second best there ever was. Save Joe Montana, I think he’s better than any other player at the position- better than Elway, Marino, Favre, and so on. When you combine the full body of work- the personal accolades, the impressive amount career wins (including the playoffs, that number is 200), and the two Super Bowl rings. I hope he enjoys that perch now, though. Once #12 retires, he’ll be sliding down to #3 on that list.
So, ride off into the sunset Peyton. Thanks for the memories. Oh, and good luck with that Tennessee sexual assault thing that no one is talking about. You probably don’t need it though, since you’re Peyton Manning.
Cover photo courts of Sports Illustrated.