One of the best things about sports is getting to witness greatness. Greatness is hard to describe, but you know it when you see it.
What’s a shame is I’m not sure we truly appreciate greatness until it’s over. We watch in awe, but don’t grasp the magnitude of an athlete’s accomplishments until they are gone and retired.
Don’t make that mistake with Peyton Manning.
We are watching the greatest quarterback of all-time and probably the start of the greatest season of all-time.
Forget Joe Montana, John Elway, Brett Favre and Tom Brady. Manning is the best to ever play the position. Heck, I’d argue he’s the best to ever play football, period.
Haters will point to the fact that Manning only has one Super Bowl ring. Need I remind you that football has 22 starters? It’s the ultimate team game. This isn’t basketball where only five players are on the floor at once and one player can carry a team.
Sure, Manning has had plenty of playoff disappointments. He has struggled in big games going all the way back to college. He never beat Florida while at Tennessee and struggled all those years against the Patriots.
But put all that aside and look at what Manning has accomplished. He is second all-time in touchdown passes and should break Favre’s record next season. He is third all-time in passing yards. He is second in game-winning drives. He is first in fourth quarter comebacks.
When it’s all said and done, Manning will hold almost every quarterbacking record there is.
What he is doing this season at 37-years-old defies logic. Through four games, Manning has thrown for 1,470 yards, 16 touchdowns, zero interceptions and has a completion percentage of 75 percent. He’s on pace to throw for more than 5,800 yards and 64 touchdowns. Both would shatter the NFL single-season records.
Did I mentioned he is 37-years-old and just two years removed from four neck surgeries? Incredible.
But with Manning, it has always been about more than his gaudy statistics. He is one of the most cerebral players to ever put on a NFL jersey. He can read a defense and audible to the perfect play to beat the coverage. Most importantly, he makes everyone around him better. That is a sign of a truly great player.
Now the question becomes how long can Manning play? I think he still has at least three to four great seasons left in him. With Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker and Eric Decker, he’ll certainly have plenty of weapons to throw to.
Barring something unforeseen, Manning is going to continue his assault on the record book and may put up untouchable numbers. I would be willing to bet he adds a Super Bowl ring or two to his collection.
Just a couple years ago, Broncos fans had to watch Tim Tebow at quarterback, who is probably one of the worst starters of all-time. Now, they have the best ever.
Appreciate Manning’s greatness while he’s still around because once he’s gone, we’ll only have highlights and the record books to show for it.
Alex Ross is a senior sports communication major from Fishers, Ind. He is the Scout sports editor.
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