Before it’s over, the critics and wannabe-know-it-alls are going to say that Peyton Manning has to win 14 Super Bowls, eight MVP trophies, and throw for 200,000 yards to be named the greatest quarterback of all time. Seriously, what hasn’t the man done yet in his 12 seasons as the league’s most dominant quarterback?
I’m not even going to bring up the stats because anyone can Google those. The bottom line is year in and year out Peyton takes whatever cast and crew is available and delivers at least 12 wins, a playoff appearance, and an occasional championship. No other quarterback in the league has consistently dominated in the manner that Manning does.
This season served the perfect testament to number 18’s case for Greatest QB of all time. Tony Dungy, one of the sharpest coaching minds in the game, exited as head coach of Manning’s Indianapolis Colts. Marvin Harrison asked for his release following last season, leaving only one long-tenured receiver (Reggie Wayne) for Manning to throw to. Remember, the other starter this year was supposed to be Anthony Gonzalez, who injured his right knee in the season opener against Jacksonville and was eventually placed on the injured reserve.
All this change normally calls for a rebuilding season or two. However, Peyton worked his normally rigorous schedule and spent hours in the sun with young receivers Pierre Garcon, Austin Collie and veteran tight end Dallas Clark.
The downside of all this turnover? None. The Colts fired off 14 straight wins to start the season, rested starters in the last two games of the season and trounced the Ravens and Jets in the playoffs to get to the Super Bowl.
That’s the difference between great and the greatest. Sure, Bradshaw, Montana and Young have more Super Bowl rings. But, so does Ben Roethlisberger at this point. Is there any one out there foolish enough to say that Big Ben is a better QB at this point than Peyton? I believe it’s safe to say that it takes more than just the rings to name the Greatest QB of All Time.
I think a good common ground right now may be to say that Manning is arguably the greatest of all time. The only reason I’d consider a debate is because his career isn’t over yet. If he plays another seven years or so, it’s safe to say not many people will have much of an argument left.
Until then, we can leave it to those who have nothing better to do than criticize a man who does nothing but excel.