While Peyton Manning’s retirement may not have come as a surprise to some, I’m still somehow feel as though I am at a loss.
I realize that I am not going to watch Manning play in NFL game again. I’m still thinking about how weird it would be to not see him start a regular season game this fall. I mean, who else would we compare Tom Brady to?
So now, as the case with other great players who retire, how do we assess Manning’s legacy?
A lot has been written about how Manning is a “meticulous manic” whose attention to detail is legendary. In fact, he was so thorough in his preparation that he knew when a player screwed something up, regardless of his position. How he used off days (typically Tuesdays) to arrive at the facilities – with the other QBs on the roster – and study tape with the offensive coaching staff.
Former Colts teammate Dominic Rhodes would say Manning was such a stickler for details, that if a mistake was made on the practice field, “you could hear a pin drop”. Pierre Garcon talked about how nervous he was the first time he took the practice field with Manning. (By the way, if you want more details on how meticulous Manning was with the Colts, click here.)
That said, once you take a look at Manning’s career stats and accomplishments, you will easily see the fruits of his labor:
- 2× Super Bowl champion (XLI, 50)
- Super Bowl MVP (XLI)
- 4× AFC champion (2006, 2009, 2013, 2015)
- 5× AP NFL MVP (2003, 2004, 2008, 2009, 2013)
- 14× Pro Bowl (1999, 2000, 2002–2010, 2012–2014)
- 7× First-team All-Pro (2003–2005, 2008, 2009, 2012, 2013)
- 3× Second-team All-Pro (1999, 2000, 2006)
- 2× AP NFL Offensive Player of the Year (2004, 2013)
- AP NFL Comeback Player of the Year (2012)
- 4× NFL passing touchdown leader (2000, 2004, 2006, 2013)
- 3x NFL passing yards leader (2000, 2003, 2013)
- Pro Bowl MVP (2005)
- Indianapolis Colts career leader in wins, passing touchdowns, pass attempts, pass completions and passing yards
- NFL all-time leader in career touchdown passes, passing yards and wins
- Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year (2013)
Not bad for a dude who was once considered to be not as good as legendary draft bust Ryan Leaf.
Now that we have listed Manning’s accomplishments, it is time to go where too many people have gone: ranking him among the all-time great QBs.
If you had paid attention to the title of this rant, you already know that I do not consider Manning to be the greatest QB who ever lived. In fact, I have (and always will) believe that Joe Montana is the greatest QB in NFL history.
He played during a time when it was not against NFL rules to play defense. Defenders could rough up a receiver before a pass was thrown. Those same defenders could also take a receiver’s head off and not have a penalty flag thrown. Because of that, receivers were afraid to go over the middle.
Now, even a subpar QB (Matthew Stafford, Jay Cutler, and the like) could put up huge numbers. Hell, a “Boo-Boo the Fool” can catch lightning in a bottle and have a career year thanks to the rule changes.
But I digress…
This is not to poo-poo Manning’s accomplishments. I do think he is the best REGULAR SEASON QB in NFL history. His numbers speak for themselves. It’s just that he is not THE best QB.
Here is how I would rank Manning among the all-time great QBs:
- Joe Montana
- Tom Brady
- John Elway
- Terry Bradshaw
- Peyton Manning
- Bart Starr
- Roger Staubach
- Ben Roethlisberger
- Troy Aikman
- Steve Young
(All of those QBs on my list won at least one Super Bowl (sorry Dan Marino and Dan Fouts))
While I’m sure all of y’all are going to hate on where I placed Manning (and my list in general), just know that this means that I still consider him to be one of the all-time great QBs.
Besides, top-five ain’t bad, right?