On Monday, Peyton Manning, arguably the best quarterback in NFL history, announced his retirement after an illustrious 18-year career. Manning, who turns 40 at the end of this month, spent the past four years with the Denver Broncos after spending the first 14 seasons of his career with the Indianapolis Colts. Manning, who led the Broncos to victory in Super Bowl 50, was the first starting QB in NFL history to win the Super Bowl with 2 different teams. Manning holds many NFL records, including the most career passing TDs (539), most passing yards for a career (71,940), and is the winningest QB in NFL history with 200 wins. Not to mention the fact that he is a 5-time MVP, and he was elected to the Pro Bowl 14-times. Peyton’s career is certainly not one to forget.
Manning was drafted #1 overall by the Indianapolis Colts in 1998. He was coming off of a senior season at Tennessee where he finished second in the Heisman voting, behind only 9x Pro Bowl Cornerback, Charles Woodson. Manning was a starter from day one. In his rookie year, the Colts went 3-13, the fewest wins that Manning would record in a single season for the rest of his career. In fact, Manning led his teams to winning records in all but two years that he played. He also led the Colts to the playoffs every year he was there, except for the two losing seasons that were previously mentioned. Manning was a force to be reckoned with on the field. Off the field, Manning was awarded the prestigious Walter Payton Man of the Year award in 2006 for his charitable work in the Indianapolis community. As a well-respected player in the NFL, Manning became a spokesman for the game, as well as some companies. Manning has famously appeared in advertisements for Nationwide, Papa John’s, DirecTV, Buick, ESPN, and Buick among others.
Overall, Manning was seen as one of the “good guys” of the NFL. He was never in the news for disciplinary action from the league or the team; he was never in serious altercations with teammates. In fact, Manning was quite the opposite: he has been caught dancing during practice, he has joked around with the media, and has starred in one of the funniest SNL shorts I have seen in awhile. According to his teammates, Manning was a hard worker and tough competitor, but a fun guy. Manning has been talked about as being the most studious QB in the league by far. He reinvented the position as well as the hurry up offense. He was famous for getting the offense up to the line and then making changes on the fly.
What separates Manning from the others, is that he is not a superhuman, but he achieved superhuman results. Especially in recent years, Manning has not had the strongest arm in the NFL, but somehow he has passed for more yards than anyone else in NFL history. He is not the most mobile of quarterbacks, but somehow managed to rush for 18 touchdowns in his career. I am not saying Manning was a sub-par QB who got lucky. Manning is not flashy, but he is arguably the best student of the game. So, when Manning took the stage in Englewood on Monday to announce his retirement, fans everywhere acknowledged that this was truly the end of a great era in football. For Manning, it was his time. He was coming off of a season in which, for the first time in his career, he did not start all 16 games for his team. Yes, Manning won Super Bowl 50, but the injuries and the time he missed signaled the decline and end of his career.
Personally, I admire Peyton’s decision. Too often, we see players retire too late and we, as fans, see a player who was once great reduced to being just average. Brett Favre is a perfect example. Favre was easily a Hall of Fame QB when he played with the Packers, but when he retired and then came back, Vikings fans, along with all other NFL fans, had to watch Favre suffer through his final few seasons as an old man. If anything, Favre’s comeback partially tarnished his incredible legacy. For Peyton, he knew it was time to retire, and I think he made the right call. I will miss watching Peyton Manning pick apart defenses on the field, but I am sure he will stay involved in the game, whether by becoming a commentator on TV, or as a coach, or even a front office job. A talent like Peyton is rare, and I feel lucky to have been able to watch him for pretty much all of my life.
Goodbye Peyton, you will be missed.
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