Peyton Manning is the greatest quarterback of all-time. Being a great athlete in his case means having millions of fans and many haters. It's as simple as that.
The Sheriff is widely recognized as one of the most beloved and classiest players in league history. This is a man who has always displayed remarkable sportsmanship, has done so much charity work and built a children's hospital in Indianapolis. You're always hearing great stories of Manning reaching out to fans and their families in need. Without a doubt, he is one of the most lovable athletes of all-time.
But on the other side, some people haven't seen the good in Manning. From accused stories of sexual assaults to verbal encounters with other high-profile names, Manning is another athlete that you either love or hate. Though we'd say more people certainly love him than hate him, there are seven people who could tell you all the bad about him.
Here are eight of Manning's biggest lovers and seven of his biggest haters.
15 Love: Richard Sherman
The best cornerback in the game is known for having a big mouth. Prior to Richard Sherman's Seattle Seahawks facing the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVII, Sherman claimed that "Manning throws ducks." But after Seattle crushed Denver 43-8, Sherman had nothing but praise for Number 18.
Sherman had to leave the game with a high ankle sprain, but Manning had enough gracefulness to check in on Sherman after the game. That led to a series of classy tweets from the Seahawks star:
Peyton is the Classiest person/player I have ever met! I could learn so much from him! Thank you for being a great Competitor and person— Richard Sherman (@RSherman_25) February 3, 2014
There is no reason to bash him on here please Seattle let's just enjoy this one!!!! He is still a Future HOF player— Richard Sherman (@RSherman_25) February 3, 2014
This shows the true colours of both players. Sherman definitely has a big mouth and an even bigger ego, but his inner personality really shined through here. Manning had every right to be disappointed after the loss and ignore a player who took shots at him, but he didn't let the competition bring out his worst. Rather, his best.
14 Hate: His Sexual Assault Accuser
In a case that has more bizarre questions than answers, Manning's former trainer at the University of Tennessee, Jamie Naughright, accused The Sheriff of sexually assaulting her in a way we would rather not discuss.
The other side of the story is that he was simply mooning in the locker room as a prank many U of T players did, but Naughright apparently referred to that as sexual assault. Naughright also has a history of trying to sue other high-profile names. Obviously, we don't know the full story and we never will.
Did Manning sexually assault his trainer? Possibly. Could it be made up? Also possibly. Nobody knows for sure, other than this is a major scandal and giant controversy. No matter what happened, Naughright certainly will never feel any good feelings towards Manning.
13 Love: Jim Irsay
The Indianapolis Colts had to choose between drafting Peyton Manning or Ryan Leaf with the first-overall pick. Manning told the Colts front office that if they drafted him, they'd win a championship. If they didn't draft them, he would kick their ass.
Well, the Colts took him by his word and drafted him first-overall. Colts owner Jim Irsay saw a very frustrating product on the field for many years, but Manning turned Indianapolis into a juggernaut in the snap of a finger. He guided them to double-digit wins every year from 2002-2010. Indianapolis won Super Bowl XLI and reached Super Bowl 44 while Manning set countless records and took home four league MVPs.
Though Manning and Irsay had an odd falling out in 2012 that led to his release (leading the Colts to drafting Andrew Luck), there's no denying the impact he had on the Colts. There's a reason Lucas Oil Stadium is referred to as "The House that Manning Built."
12 Hate: Mike Sando
When Manning won Super Bowl 50 with the Denver Broncos, he had an emotional post-game speech and said he was planning to drink a ton of beer and mentioned Budweiser. That didn't sit well with Mike Sando from ESPN.com:
It obviously takes a lot of hatred to post something like that. Sando hasn't learned what it's like to play on teams that constantly melt down in the playoffs, only to retire from a legendary career on top of the football world. We're pretty sure a large amount of athletes drink alcohol when they win the championship.
But this didn't stop Sando from delivering an unnecessary shot. Manning was just in the moment of winning Super Bowl 50 and was ready to celebrate with his team. I don't think most people see anything wrong with that, but don't tell it to Sando.
11 Love: Ray Lewis
Manning is the best quarterback of all-time, and Ray Lewis is one of the greatest defensive players of all-time. Any time these two legends faced off, it was epic. You had two icons staring each other down. What more could you ask for?
The final chapter in this story came in the 2012 AFC Divisional Round. Lewis' Baltimore Ravens faced Peyton's Denver Broncos with a trip to the AFC Championship on the line. Lewis announced he was retiring at the end of the season, and Baltimore pulled out an emotional 38-35 win in overtime.
After the loss, Manning went to Lewis to congratulate him on the win. Peyton's wife, Ashley, told Lewis that she was "so happy for him." Nothing but mutual respect between two future Hall of Famers. What a moment.
10 Hate: Robert Kraft
The New England Patriots owner has a lot to be happy about. Besides being worth billions, he has been the head man of a model NFL organization for many years. Robert Kraft bought and saved a franchise that was close to possibly relocating. Mr. Kraft (rightfully so) has spoken a ton about his love for Tom Brady. He's called him the best quarterback of all-time, too.
Big surprise. But after the Broncos won Super Bowl 50, Kraft came off as incredibly bitter, perhaps following the Patriots' AFC Championship loss to Denver. According to ESPN.com's Mike Reiss, here's what Kraft had to say about seeing Manning's father, Archie.
“I happened to see Archie [Manning] there. He has two sons who have won two Super Bowls [each]. But with all due respect, we have one son who has won four.”
Someone sounds rather bitter. We'd also like to point out to Mr. Kraft that the Manning brothers are 5-2 against Brady in the playoffs. No wonder he wasn't able to show any class after the Broncos won Super Bowl 50.
9 Love: Tom Brady
Even though Peyton Manning and Tom Brady's rivalry and fierce competition changed the landscape of the NFL, the two could not actually be any closer in real life. These two met in the playoffs five times and squared off 17 times between the 2001-2015 NFL seasons. They combined for 10 trips to the Super Bowl, with Brady winning four and Manning winning two during this rivalry.
Manning and Brady actually have spent plenty of time together during NFL offseasons. They've had each other over for dinner and have always shown nothing but great respect for one another. Manning defended Brady after DeflateGate, saying "Tom is my friend." When leaked texts came out of Brady saying Manning was almost finished, Manning simply laughed it off.
Brady even called Manning the greatest quarterback of all-time. So there's that, too. It may be hard for some to believe, but the two don't let competition get in the way of friendship.
8 Hate: DeAngelo Williams
Like Richard Sherman, DeAngelo Williams is one of the most outspoken players in the NFL. With Manning announcing his retirement back in March, it was a popular time for NFL fans and players to celebrate the remarkable career of a legend. Williams chose to take the high road, instead:
Look Peyton is a hall of fame qb who couldn't play dead in a western last year but career over all is astonishing but last year was 💩😷— DeAngelo Williams (@DeAngeloRB) March 7, 2016
👀ing and he had a mountain of picks and break ups but u find the 6plays all season that looked good https://t.co/HqDZnEICVJ— DeAngelo Williams (@DeAngeloRB) March 7, 2016
😂u are kidding me right last year Peyton manning without the name would never have been in the NFL anywhere Pete😡😡 https://t.co/C4PvxGztIh— DeAngelo Williams (@DeAngeloRB) March 7, 2016
This prompted Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin to step in and embarrass his own player:
For what it's worth, Manning's Broncos did beat Williams' Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2015 AFC Divisional Round. Most people put everything aside and showed their love and admiration for an epic 18-year career. But Williams had no desire to show his respect and had to go off on Manning.
It's safe to say that Manning won't be having him over for dinner any time soon, right?
7 Love: His Endorsers
We wanted to narrow it down to one, but we really can't. Manning is the greatest athlete ever when it comes to starring in commercials. When he joined the Broncos, he bought 21 Papa John's stores across the state of Colorado. It made me go to Papa John's when I was in Denver to watch them win the 2015 AFC Championship Game, too.
Manning also starred in many hilarious MasterCard commercials during his career. Also, that DirecTV commercial with brother Eli Manning is top-notch.
Even though Saturday Night Live may not count as an endorsement for Manning, he did make several appearances on the show that made him a fan favorite. The Sheriff's hilarious personality really helped out the likes of Papa John's, MasterCard, DirecTV and SNL, among others.
There's a reason he got so much television time outside of football: The people love him.
6 Hate: Jay Glazer
The Fox Sports journalist is also known for a rather big-mouth personality. Jay Glazer is employed in an industry where people are taught to always act and behave in a professional matter. Well, Glazer and Manning did have one ugly showdown a number of years ago that almost led to a fistfight.
Glazer has a background in MMA fighting, so he had the guts to stand up to a 6-feet-5 quarterback. According to Glazer, Manning made a joke about Michael Strahan going through a divorce at the 2007 Pro Bowl. Glazer, a close friend of Strahan's, defended his buddy and told Manning to stop acting better than everyone.
Suddenly, Chuck Liddell stepped in to defend Glazer as Manning had a number of his friends by his side. Nobody threw any punches, and Glazer claimed they've been "good ever since." But part of me thinks the bitter emotions will always remain between these two.
5 Love: John Elway
Manning became the most-sought after free agent in NFL history when the Colts released him - having plans to draft can't-miss prospect Andrew Luck with the first-overall pick. With the great No. 18 a free agent, plenty of teams came calling.
The Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, Arizona Cardinals, Tennessee Titans, Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers, Washington Redskins, and Denver Broncos were among the many teams who wanted Manning. He basically got to choose his team, but the rumors were that he wanted to stay in the AFC so that he didn't have to face brother Eli.
Well, John Elway's masterful tactics convinced Manning to join the Broncos, even though he wasn't thrilled about joining a cold-weather team. Elway was able to sell an 8-8 Broncos team previously led by Tim Tebow as the place for Manning to finish his career. With Manning, the Broncos became a force in the AFC, winning Super Bowl 50.
Both men finished their careers in Denver. In their late 30s. As Super Bowl champions. No doubt these two shall always maintain a close relationship.
4 Hate: Mike Vanderjagt
Mike Vanderjagt was one of the NFL's premier kickers, but he always seemed to miss the important ones. His miss in the 2005 AFC Divisional Round against the Pittsburgh Steelers ended a remarkable 14-2 season put together by Manning and the Colts.
Back in 2004, Vanderjagt called out Colts' head coach Tony Dungy and called out Manning's leadership towards the team. That was only part of it, as Manning went off on his kicker, saying he's an "idiot who got liquored up and ran his mouth."
It's hard to disagree with Manning in some ways, as Vanderjagt did cost The Sheriff a championship opportunity or two with his untimely misses. But most people who have played for Manning simply love the guy, but it didn't seem to be a luxury for Vanerjagt, who wasted no time feuding with No. 18.
3 Love: Marvin Harrison
Peyton Manning has had a number of star tight ends and receivers to throw to throughout his career. Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon, Dallas Clark, Julius Thomas, Wes Welker, Emmanuel Sanders, Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas are among his best. But none of them will ever stand out the way Marvin Harrison did.
Manning and Harrison are the greatest quarterback and receiving tandem of all-time. They combined for 118 touchdowns together from 1998-2008. From 1999-2006, Harrison posted double-digit touchdowns in each of those seasons. The Colts won Super Bowl 41 thanks to this lethal tandem.
There's no doubting how much these two love each other. Both men will be enshrined in Indianapolis sports lore for all of their accomplishments together. Neither would be the same man without the other.
2 Hate: Patriots Fans
In my many years of watching and following sports, you won't find a lot of people who attack and hate on The Sheriff like New England Patriots fans. It's all fair, though. You think Peyton Manning fans (Indianapolis or Denver especially) will have a lot of nice stuff to say about Brady?
Patriots fans want to think Tom Brady is the best quarterback of this generation, and perhaps ever. But Manning's talents cannot be ignored, either. He did go 3-2 against Brady in the playoffs, won five MVPs and two Super Bowls. If there wasn't a Peyton Manning, Brady could have had seven Super Bowls. Seriously.
Manning and Brady were rivals on the field, and it was hard for fans on either side to recognize the greatness of the other. While most people will say great things about Manning, go to New England and see how many will say lovable stuff compared to how overrated he was.
It's just the nature of being on one side of an epic rivalry.
1 Love: Eli Manning
No surprise here.
These two grew up playing football together in their backyard and going to New Orleans Saints games to watch their father, Archie play. Peyton and Eli Manning supported each other all the way up to their NFL debuts. You just need to see Peyton's reaction to Eli winning Super Bowl 42 with the New York Giants over his arch rivals, the New England Patriots.
You also should see Eli's reaction to Denver putting away the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50. These two brothers care so much about the other winning, and the press box reactions have shown it.
Just how close are they? During the third Manning Bowl, Peyton talked about how he didn't like playing Eli and was thankful it was probably the last one. He simply doesn't like competing against his brother, because they're too close.
And again, there's that whole DirecTV commercial they did together...
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