Now that The Sheriff has officially handed in his badge and rode off into the sunset, what should we make of the career of Peyton Williams Manning? The Colts and Broncos quarterback defied injury, doubters and haters on his way to ending his career in the best way possible – with a Super Bowl win at the hands of the hottest team in the league. The NFL will rarely see his type again and, since his introduction in 1998, there have been many highs and lows to reflect on.
The stats speak for themselves when you talk about the legendary quarterbacks. five MVPs, two Super Bowl championships, four-time AFC champion, 14 Pro Bowl appearances, record passing yards and record touchdown passes. His appearances on Saturday Night Live and multiple Papa John commercials transitioned him from big-foreheaded footballer to lovable pop culture icon and over the course of his career there haven't been many inside the game who have much of a bad word to say about Peyton.
The son of Archie and brother to Eli has the game in his blood. The Colts snapped up the Tennessee College product as the number one overall pick in the 1998 Draft and not a day goes by that they regret that decision. Combine his passing prowess, leadership qualities, public speaking persona, ambassador as an NFL athlete and philanthropic ventures and people would be right to conclude that the sport has been richer for his involvement.
However, like all individuals of high profile, he had skeletons in his closet that remain a scandal even post retirement. The sexual harassment and HGH sagas are ongoing and given his reputation, the possibility of litigation could provide an ugly outcome for Manning. Throw in a last season that was less-than-spectacular on a personal level and shameless beer plugs for his glorious moment and all of a sudden the overall picture doesn’t look as rosy as it should have been.
Peyton’s 18 years in the sport gave us a lot to love, a lot to cringe over and a lot to consider. These are the 10 best and 10 worst moments of the NFL career of Peyton Manning.
21 1998 Draft
20 2003 Tampa Bay Comeback
19 2004 Playoffs Broncos Win
18 2006 AFC Championship Game
17 2007 Super Bowl XLI Win
16 2013 Single-Season NFL QB Record
15 Surpassing Brett Favre in 2014
14 2016 AFC Championship Game
10 1998 Jets Trouncing
9 2000 Titans Playoff Loss
8 2001 Patriots Loss
When 9/11 hit, the last thing people were really thinking about was football. But the show had to go on and fortunately for the people of Boston, Tom Brady was thrown in for his first career start at Foxboro Stadium. The 44-13 win for the Patriots over the Colts was a sign of things to come and while Brady didn’t win the game off his own 168 passing yards, the power axis was tilting as Peyton was limited to 196 yards and three interceptions, two of which ended in touchdowns.
7 2004 Patriots Loss
6 Tracy Porter’s Pick 6
5 Seahawks Super Bowl Smashing
Super Bowl XLVIII was supposed to be the moment where Peyton would entrench himself in Broncos folklore, but ended up running into a Seattle Seahawks-sized steam train. The 43-8 belting at MetLife Stadium was visibly heading one way with a convincing 22-0 lead at halftime. Manning went 34 of 49 passes with just one touchdown and two picks, one of which was a pick six straight to Malcolm Smith. The defensive dominance allowed Russell Wilson to score two TDs himself and take complete control of the game . It felt like a changing of the guard and somehow made Super Bowl 50 all the more remarkable.
4 2015 Kansas City Loss
3 Budweiser Plugs
2 Sexual Harassment Scandal
1 HGH Scandal
Rarely will a documentary aired on a Middle Eastern television news station open a scandal involving an NFL star, but these are different times. The infamous Al Jazeera program The Dark Side alleged that Peyton had a human growth hormone (HGH) shipped to his house using his wife’s name as cover in 2011. Manning continues to deny any wrongdoing and now that he’s retired he has removed the possibility of having to cooperate with the NFL because he is no longer an employee of a franchise under their banner. It is not often a legend will hang up the helmet after a stunning Super Bowl upset win and still retire amid a cloud of controversy.
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