Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning has been the main focal point of Super Bowl week, and deservedly so. Manning is approaching the end of an incredible career that will undoubtedly put him in the Hall of Fame one day. He’s also going for his second Super Bowl championship, which many critics believe he needs in order to make a strong argument for being the best quarterback in NFL history, and with the uncertainty around his health and his future in football beyond this season, this could be Manning’s last chance to win a second Super Bowl. However, win or lose, Manning has already stated his case for being the best quarterback of all time, and it’s a strong case.
First, there are the numbers. For his career, Manning has thrown for nearly 65,000 yards; not including the postseason, and nearly 500 touchdown passes, again not including the postseason. He holds the record for the most touchdown passes, passing yards, and completions a quarterback has made in a single decade. He has the largest differential between touchdowns and interceptions of any quarterback in NFL history. His career passer rating is 97, good for second all time behind Aaron Rodgers. Manning has more 300-yard passing games than any other quarterback in NFL history. Just this season, he set the single-season record for both passing yards and touchdown passes. Also, Manning is one of three quarterbacks that has thrown seven touchdowns in a single game without also throwing an interception, doing so in this year’s season opener against the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens.
Next, there are the accolades. He is a five-time MVP, which is more than any other player. He is a 13-time Pro Bowler, and seven times he’s been named the All-Pro first-team quarterback. Manning has been the AFC Offensive Player of the Year seven times. He has been a Pro-Bowl MVP, a Super-Bowl MVP, and won the 2012 NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award.
The statistics Manning has put up and the awards he’s won over the course of his career are nothing short of astonishing. But Manning is even better than his credentials would indicate. His intellectual mastery of the position is unmatched by any other quarterback in the history of the NFL, and is a unique trait that will be nearly impossible for any other quarterback to replicate, ever. Not only has Manning thrown a countless number of passes with pinpoint accuracy, but throughout his career he has shown an uncanny ability to outsmart opposing defenses win the play for his team before the ball is even snapped. No other quarterback has combined the physical talents of an elite quarterback with the brilliant mental acuity of the position the way Manning has.
Even if all the stats and awards didn’t exist, no quarterback has been more impressive to watch operate than Manning. No other quarterback has mastered the game of football the way Manning has. It’s nothing short of insane to think that Manning needs to win a second Super Bowl to be considered the greatest of all time; after all, teams win Super Bowls not individuals, which is why none of the accolades mentioned have anything to do with his team winning or losing. Whether or not the Broncos beat the Seahawks Sunday night should have little bearing on Manning’s legacy; it’s just one of hundreds of games Manning has played throughout his career. Win or lose, he’s already stated his case as the best quarterback of all time, and it’s a case that’s going to be tough to beat.