Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning didn't only win his second Super Bowl trophy with this year, adding more to his already impressive collection of trophies, awards and records ...
He sealed the deal as the NFL's greatest quarterback to ever live. Gone are the days where every fan said Joe Montana and Tom Brady were the top two. If anyone wants to participate among the better between those two, you're officially arguing who is sitting right behind Manning.
All Manning ever needed was one last Lombardi Trophy to end the argument. Though it took him a while to earn it (nine years, actually) the multiple rings are huge to his legacy and overshadow any past playoff failures.
Manning now owns virtually all important NFL records and has two Super Bowls. Joe Montana and Tom Brady can brag about four titles all they want. No one is taking those away from them, except for the fact they needed Hall of Fame coaches, elite defenses and controversy to win.
On the other hand, the Sheriff delivered what may have been the worst game of his career, but it didn't matter. Though the defense stole the show, Manning and the offense barely did just enough to hold on.
And so, analysts and NFL fans will debate all they want as to who is the top of the mountain in terms of the best quarterback ever. I know this article won't change all their minds, but it sure as heck will prove why Manning is the best ever.
15 Overcoming Adversity
The best athletes are able to fight extra hard through absolutely anything. The will to play and win is what sets athletes afar from the others.
And no quarterback has been able to fight through what Manning did: Four neck surgeries that forced him to miss the entire 2011 season. All he did was come back and lead the Broncos to the top seed in the AFC.
Then he deals with foot injuries and is benched against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 10. All Manning does is rehab extra hard, knowing he's not even going to start when he returns, and takes over and leads Denver to four wins to close out the season.
Manning could have accepted defeat to his age and beat up body, but he was more than determined to put his life on the line and win a championship.
14 Playoff Choker? Think Again
The one "Kryptonite"of Manning's career was the fact that he underachieved in the postseason, but that couldn't be more wrong, actually.
Tom Brady is widely considered the most clutch playoff performer ever, but Manning's actually outplayed his rival in the big games.
With two rings and a 14-13 playoff record (that's a winning record) I think it's safe to say Manning actually hasn't been a playoff choker. If he was, he would have been throwing three interceptions against the Carolina Panthers.
Any dysfunctional team in the NFL will often lack a true leader. Manning has shown his ability to lead and inspire his team on multiple occasions:
-In their 2005 AFC Divisional loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, Manning's Indianapolis Colts trailed by 17 points in second half. With Tony Dungy opting to punt, Manning told the offense to stay on the field, and they made it a three-point game, before Mike Vanderjagt's missed field goal cost them in overtime.
-In the 2010 season, the Colts were battered with injuries. Dallas Clark, Joseph Addai, and Austin Collie were not around for Manning. With a 6-6 record late in the season, Manning takes a very average team to the playoffs, and they almost make the AFC Divisional game after losing a close one to the Jets.
-Week 17, 2015 against San Diego Chargers: The Broncos commit five turnovers. Gary Kubiak puts Manning in: Denver scores 20 points, and clinch the AFC's top seed.
You could just see how much he forced his team into playing their game. What other quarterback has done that?
12 No Cheating Scandals
Though Joe Montana was clean, his all-time great receiver, Jerry Rice, put sticky substances on his gloves to make catches easier. It doesn't ruin Montana's legacy, but something to remember.
And then there's Brady: Spygate, which allowed the Patriots to steal signals and playbooks from other teams for years that led to three Super Bowls. Then there was Deflategate, which, "more probable than not," was orchestrated by Tommy Terrific.
As for those HGH allegations against Manning? Good luck finding evidence that it's true. When the intern who makes up the story recants it, that's not evident enough.
Thanks for keeping it clean, Sheriff.
11 Most Wins
With his milestone 200th career win at the Super Bowl, Manning passed Brett Favre for the most ever. So yeah, no quarterback in the history of the NFL has won more games.
Granted, Patriots fans, and rightfully so, will talk about how Manning's had three more years in the league over Brady, but that doesn't exactly matter. Not Manning's fault he was ready to be drafted and ready to start much quicker than Brady.
Manning's the winningest quarterback in NFL history. Plain and simple.
10 Most MVP Awards
Manning has won a ridiculous five, yes, five MVPS. The 50 voters who put his name down believed that no one meant more to their teams than number 18, himself.
No one will probably ever come close to touching his five MVP awards. If you are still scoffing at the notion of how much he means to his team, remember those 2011 Colts who went 2-14 without him?
9 Most Passing Yards
Oh look, another incredibly meaningful and popular stat analysts like to use to compare all-time greats.
Manning comfortably sits at 71,940 career passing yards. For now, you can't say that the record is unbreakable. But it's going to be difficult for anyone to pass this. Keep in mind he missed all of 2011 while in his prime, and half of the 2015 season.
Yeah, that's not bad at all.
8 Most Touchdowns
Oh look, one more incredible stat to tell your friends that Manning owns.
Peyton Manning owns 539 career touchdowns, and again, this is with him missing 1.5 seasons, which means he easily could have had 40-plus more.
As of this writing, he has 31 more than the perennial superstar Brett Favre, who played till age 41, and Manning just completed his age 39 season.
7 Made Multiple Players Superstars
When you think of Montana, the only weapon you'll think of is Jerry Rice. With Tom Brady, he had all-time great Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Julian Edelman, Corey Dillon, and Rob Gronkowski, who will end up as the best tight end ever when he's finished.
Manning, on the other hands, made countless receivers superstars. Marvin Harrison, seventh all time in receiving yards, Reggie Wayne whose eighth, Dallas Clark, Austin Collie, Pierre Garcon, and Edgerrin James. All with the Colts
Then he came to Denver and made Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker superstars. Decker left, then he made Emmanuel Sanders an 1,000-yard receiver. He also took no-named Julius Thomas and made him a Pro Bowler.
Oh, and he didn't do bad with Welker, making him part of the best offense ever. Get the hint? Manning just made everyone around him good.
6 Ability to Read Defenses
You just need to sit back and monitor what the all-time great quarterbacks do or did. Brett Favre moved around in the pocket like crazy until someone got open. Brady sits in the pocket and throws short passes within seconds.
But Peyton Manning? The man has the most brilliant mind the NFL has ever seen. His ability to read defenses and pin-point throws (reading his receiver's minds) goes to show how much more special he was than anyone else.
No one will ever be as smart as he was when it comes to playing position.
5 He Was His Own Coach and Offensive Coordinator
This goes back to the last point about how incredibly smart he was when it came to studying and reading other defenses.
When Manning takes the field, he is his own offensive coordinator. That is why you have seen him arguing with coaches in the past: Because he knows better than them. It's that simple.
As you can see with Brady, Montana, Terry Bradshaw, and Troy Aikman: They needed the Hall of Fame coach and perfect system to make it all work. Manning did so much with two horrible fits as his coach (Jim Caldwell and John Fox).
4 Succeeded in Different Systems
Like we've mentioned with the other all-time greats on this list, they have or had the same coach for the bulk (or all of) their NFL careers.
Manning has had five head coaches: Jim Mora, Tony Dungy, Jim Caldwell, John Fox, and Gary Kubiak. Of those, only Dungy and Kubiak worked out for him, but even then, Manning and Kubiak won a title despite completely different football minds.
Unless we could use a time machine and see how the other greats would have worked in different systems with different receivers, there's no way you can convince me any of them are better than Manning.
Oh wait, we've seen Brady play without Gronkowski in his carer. Hint: It wasn't pretty.
3 Five Different Coaches
To sum up how some of Manning's coaches worked with him at quarterback, here is a rundown:
-Jim Mora: Rants about missing the playoffs, refuses to fire his own coordinators for the sake of the team.
-Tony Dungy: Excellent job. Too bad Manning had him for only seven years, and not a whole career.
-Jim Caldwell: Throws away perfect season, calls timeouts when the OTHER team is trying to get in field goal range to win. Isn't able to make anything work when Manning misses 2011.
-John Fox: Doesn't allow his quarterback to get team into field goal range in 2012 playoff loss to Baltimore Ravens. It costs them.
-Gary Kubiak: Hey look! Manning is able to win a ring with a coach who runs the zone-blocking, rush-first offense, the complete opposite of what Manning did in his career.
Meanwhile, Bill Walsh with Montana, Belichick with Brady, Chuck Noll with Bradshaw, and Jimmy Johnson with Aikman sure were the key reasons their signal-callers always won.
Oh, and Manning went to the Super Bowl four times with four different coaches.
2 Manning Lacked Support
How ludicrous of me to say this when Manning's had so many great wide receivers and other players on offense to win championships.
Well, defense wins championships, not offense. A nice, quick run down of how Manning lacked support in playoff losses, even though the blame has always been placed on him:
-2005 Divisional: Vanderjagt misses field goal to force overtime.
-2007 Divisional: Colts receivers drop passes, allow Chargers' backup quarterback Billy Volek to win game against Colts.
-2008 Wild Card: 8-8 Chargers beat Colts because the defense can't stop Philip Rivers' game-tying drive. In overtime, Colts take costly penalties to give Chargers the win.
-Super Bowl 44: Special teams can't recover easy onside kick, Pierre Garcon drops what would have been easy touchdown to give Colts insurmountable lead at half-time.
-2010 Divisional: Manning leads with a beat-up Colts team, but defense allows Mark Sanchez of all quarterbacks to go on game-winning field goal drive, thanks to Jim Caldwell for calling a timeout on defense.
-2012 Divisional: Jacoby Jones gets a Hail Mary touchdown thanks to worst coverage ever. Ravens win in overtime.
-Super Bowl 48: Dropped passes, horrible tackling, Fox not preparing his team for crowd noise, offensive line miscues, an all-around horrible effort even though Manning takes the heat for losing.
-2014 AFC Divisional: Manning can only do so much with a torn quad. Defense doesn't make stops, all-around ugly performance by team. But again, blame Manning.
The best quarterbacks ever are able to put up consistency. That's how Manning's been able to do it all, aside from his five MVP awards, here is proof:
-In his last 13 NFL seasons, Manning has led his teams to 13-straight double-digit win seasons. Of those, 11 of them featured wins of 12 or more.
-Manning is 3-1 all time in AFC Championship Games. Seems like a choker wouldn't let that happen.
-In eight of his last 10 seasons where he's been fully healthy, Manning has tossed 30-plus touchdowns. He's also had 12 seasons where he's completed at least 65 per cent of his passes.
-From 1998 to 2014, Manning reached over 4,000 passing yards in all but his rookie season.
-He's had 13 seasons where his rating has been 90 or more.
-14 seasons of averaging seven-plus yards per pass completed.
The best are always consistent, and that's exactly what Manning has been.
Congratulations on your second ring Peyton, and for officially being the best quarterback to ever exist.