Peyton Manning is the greatest regular season quarterback in NFL history. Key words: “regular season.” Few would disagree with that statement.The only thing that is preventing him from being the greatest ever is a poor playoff record (9-10) and one Super Bowl ring.
Manning has been neck-and-neck with rival quarterback Tom Brady. Although Manning is far more superior in career stats but Tom Brady has three Super Bowl rings—compared to Manning’s one.
Not only is Brady standing in his way, other greats such as Joe Montana (4), Troy Aikman (3), John Elway (2), and Roger Staubach (2) have won multiple Super Bowl titles. Brett Favre also has just one ring—which overshadows the fact he is the all time leader in practically every meaningful quarterback stat.
However, Peyton Manning is on pace to break most, if not, all of those records. Even though most people will disagree with me here, you can’t compare athletes by JUST championships. Football is a team game, with 11 men on the field. The harsh reality is that a quarterback’s legacy is always going to be determined by championships, even if the previously mentioned quarterbacks had plenty of help and talent on their respective teams (which they did).
Peyton Manning has only made it to two Super Bowls, which is an absolute crime for a quarterback of his caliber. I just want to ask: If championships is the way of measuring a quarterback’s success, does that mean a mediocre quarterback like former Raven Trent Dilfer is better than Dan Marino? Marino would be the greatest all-time without a doubt if he could win two rings—but he had no help. He proved that football is a team sport.
While Peyton Manning only has one ring with the likes of Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark, and Marvin Harrison for almost his entire career—he rarely had a solid defense, and had the misfortunes of a choke artist kicker in Mike Vanderjagt.
Joe Montana had Jerry Rice—the greatest wide receiver of all time, Terry Bradshaw had an elite defense, much like Troy Aikman, and same goes for Tom Brady, as well as the most clutch kicker of all time in Adam Vinatieri and an amazing defense that shut down top notch quarterbacks (that includes Manning).
Enough of the quarterback comparisons—we’re talking about what a second Super Bowl championship would mean for Peyton Manning’s legacy.
Peyton Manning could have very well made a serious case had he not thrown that errant pick six in Super Bowl XLIV against New Orleans. It cost him. It has shattered Manning’s clutch gene. No one will remember his all time leading career game winning drives (assuming he gets three more to shatter Dan Marino’s record of 51) unless he wins one more Super Bowl. Again, it’s not fair, but it’s the reality of being an NFL quarterback.
Peyton Manning winning a second championship, and he’s got the best chance in years to win another, would not solidify his case as the best ever quite yet. It would surely convince more people, not including myself. It would probably but an end to the Manning/Brady debate for many people.
I believe this season proved Manning was always better than Brady as he turned a mediocre, fluky, run-first team to the second best offense in the league while making Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker amongst the NFL’s elite receivers. Not only that, Peyton Manning turned this team into the best in the AFC—despite a slow start and having to come back from four neck surgeries in his mid-thirties.
What he has done is remarkable; and he doesn’t even have Wayne, Harrison, or Clark on his side this year. He had to take a bunch of young guys by himself and turn them into a pass-first team. Brady is still benefiting from the likes of Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd, Rob Gronkowski, and Aaron Hernandez. Call Decker and Thomas better than Welker and Lloyd all you want, Jacob Tamme and Joel Dreesen are miles from achieving Gronk and Hernandez’ talent.
So a second title, in my opinion, would put Manning as the second greatest quarterback of all time, behind: Joe Montana.
Joe Cool has four Super Bowl titles to his credit, and it appears he is miles ahead of Manning in the greatest ever discussion.
Peyton Manning would need a third ring to solidify it. While most people would agree with me there—it’s hard to predict that. He’s going to turn 37 in March and it’s hard to tell how much time he has left. Peyton Manning needs to win another ring this season to move his name higher in the rankings—because if he doesn’t win his second, he won’t win his third. Without a third ring, Peyton Manning will see himself behind other Quarterbacks for all-time greats. But he has proven time-and-time again that you can never count him out.
He is just three wins away from moving himself up higher amongst the rankings, but other elite quarterbacks are going to try and prevent that.