Around the SPOT: PFS Panel on Peyton Manning
Peyton Manning. The very name conjures up shudders in defenders everywhere. He is accurate, talented and knows how to read a defense.
Most of the PFS panel agrees that Manning is one of the greatest quarterbacks to play the game. He is certainly one of the best currently playing. Manning has had 12 Pro Bowls and four NFL MVPs (both records). He was the fastest to reach 50,000 yards, 4,000 completions and 400 passing touchdowns.
After being drafted first overall in 1998, Manning earned two Super Bowl berths and one ring with the Indianapolis Colts. Shortly after his release in 2012, Manning signed with the Denver Broncos. He led them to a 13-3 record and a No. 1 playoff seed, throwing for 4,659 yards and 37 touchdowns along the way.
The Broncos are the Super Bowl favorites from the AFC. With Manning, their future seems bright. What do our panelists think?
PFS Patriots Team Journalist Charles Toomajian III
I'm too young to have vivid memories of watching Johnny Unitas, Dan Marino, Steve Young, Joe Montana or any of the previous greats play quarterback. With that caveat aside, I've never seen a better quarterback than Peyton Manning. That's as good of a compliment as you'll get from a New England Patriots fan.
What holds a little more weight than my opinion is the compliment that Bill Belichick gave to Manning in 2009. Not one of those meaningless compliments that all opposing coaches toss out in interviews (i.e. "We really gotta keep an eye on John Skelton or he's capable of picking a secondary apart"), but one that had actual repercussions.
A nation derided Belichick's decision to go for it on 4th-and-2 from his own 28-yard-line with just over two minutes remaining and a six-point lead. To me, it made perfect sense. Manning was and is that good, especially at that point in his career. Failing to get a first down would obviously mean a loss, but the risk was still worth it because punting it to Manning's offense virtually guaranteed a loss anyway.
I'm unconvinced that having only one Super Bowl title means that Manning isn’t on the same plane as the other greats. For much of his time with the Colts, his offense was dragging that team into the playoffs. Taking a team whose coach refused to even talk about playoffs and turning it into a perennial title contender is all that you can ask from an elite quarterback. Anyone who thinks otherwise should look at what Tom Brady has done (and not done) in the playoffs since the Patriots defense stopped being a force.
In the ultimate team sport, Peyton Manning has done as much as one man can do.
PFS Vikings Team Journalist Chris Schad
There are plenty of words that can describe Peyton Manning.
He's a leader who took the Colts from perennial doormats to Super Bowl contenders. He's a field general who spins around and waves his hands like a kid in a ball pit at Chuck E. Cheese's while making adjustments prior to every play. Plus, he's one of the game's greatest quarterbacks of the modern era and perhaps the entire history of the National Football League.
While a lot of people see what Manning is on the field, I also see what he is off of it: an incredible marketing machine.
Manning has become the perfect spokesperson for anybody trying to sell their product with a touch of humor. He comes off as a likeable guy who's willing to do anything to get a good laugh out of the public. Whether it's screaming audibles at little kids in a Saturday Night Live skit or dressing up like a rapper to sell NFL Sunday Ticket, the guy gets that the game has an entertainment element to it off the field.
That's something that even the league's commissioner has trouble understanding, which is saying something about Manning's personality and marketability.
I can't wait to see Manning retire for the sole fact he's going to be one of the NFL’s greatest commentators if he chooses to do so. For now, I'll settle for the fact that he's a 6-5, 230-pound quarterback with a laser rocket arm who's really good at football.
PFS Chiefs Team Journalist Seth Keysor
Peyton Manning is probably a really, really nice guy. His commercials are pretty funny and he clearly works harder at his craft than anyone else. But I still hold him at a level of disdain that is somewhere between Chris Johnson and John Elway.
The man ROBBED one of the best Kansas City Chiefs teams in recent memory of the chance at a Super Bowl. In 2003, the Chiefs had a terrific offense. They had the best offensive line in history (I will not argue about this), a solid quarterback, a great running back, Tony Gonzalez...we were stacked. Defensively, we were iffy, especially after losing our heart and soul Mike Maslowski for the year (don't laugh! He could play!). We figured our offense had enough firepower to at least get us to the AFC Championship.
Then we met Manning in the playoffs. Sixty minutes of football with NO PUNTS later, we were sent packing 38-31. It was one of the best played offensive games of all time. That wasn't much comfort. To this day, I believe that only a Peyton Manning-led team could've outgunned us that year. Blech.
Manning helped send us packing from the playoffs several years later as well. I don't want to talk about that.
Fast forward to two years ago. Manning is heading for free agency. The Chiefs have a gaping hole at quarterback (nicknamed "Matt Cassel"). Some feelers are sent Manning's way. And not only did he spurn us but he chose the Broncos. The (dry heaves)... Broncos?
That sealed it. Manning went from a player Chiefs fans disliked (but respected) to one of the most reviled players in the NFL. I can think of maybe one or two other players I dislike more than Manning—they actually deserve it (unlike Manning, who does seem like a good dude).
Right now, the Broncos are staggering from multiple blows. It seems half their defensive starters are injured, their offensive line is a mess and the Seattle Seahawks just hammered them. But let's face it: As long as Manning plays quarterback for the Broncos, they're going to win 10 games at least. Why? Because he's that good.
I hate that guy.
PFS Patriots Team Journalist Mark Ahern Jr.
Growing up in New England, there was no bigger thorn in the side of Patriots fans than Peyton Manning.
Brady or Manning? Stats or Rings? The robot or the poster boy? Who's the greatest? That's always been the debate.
Patriots fans stood behind the rings. Colts fans gushed about the numbers. Truth is, neither fan base was wrong. These two guys have provided us with some of the most memorable quarterback duels in NFL history, easily placing themselves in the conversation of the best to ever suit up.
Things have certainly changed since then, yet the Manning vs. Brady debate endures. Manning has moved on from Indy and enters his second year with Denver while Brady remains in New England for his 14th season. Neither of these quarterbacks are quite what they used to be, but with two minutes left on the clock, I'd still take either one over most any other current signal-caller.
Let’s look ahead to the Denver vs. New England matchup in Week 12 of this season on Sunday Night Football at Gillette Stadium. Both teams are fighting for AFC supremacy. Wes Welker returns to Foxborough for the first time. I look for this to be one of the best games of the 2013 regular season with the all the makings of a classic as each player enters the twilight of their careers.
At the end of the day, I'd still take Brady—all day and everyday—over Manning. Period.
There used to be a time when I genuinely couldn't stand the thought of Peyton Manning. Now I can say that I truly respect the man. His body of work speaks for itself. In a day and age where so many NFL players are in trouble with the law, Manning continues to be the ultimate role model. Even as his skills decline, he remains a pleasure to watch play as one of the game’s elite quarterbacks.
One day, I'll no doubt look back on all of the Brady vs. Manning battles and realize just how fortunate I was to be able to watch them. Regardless of position, Manning is one of the best football players ever. He brought the quarterback position to new heights during his tenure, ultimately forever changing the way the game is played.
NFL fans need to appreciate him and what he's done for the game while he's still around.
PFS Commander-in-Chief and Titans Team Journalist JHutch
Peyton Manning is an interesting one for the home-town Tennessee Titans fan.
Going back to Peyton's college days, he was an incredible talent. I remember watching every game he played and attending many of them. I saw one of the college greatest quarterbacks to ever play. I then remember the Heisman Trophy being awarded to Charles Woodson, an undeserving candidate from the University of Michigan. I saw ESPN (Extra Sucky Pisspoor Network) signs being posted around campus everywhere you'd look.
I was so excited to see Manning selected first overall (take that ESPN!). I bought a Colts jersey and watched him play a miserable rookie season. It was only a couple years later when Manning became a star while the Titans and Colts both realigned into the AFC South.
Manning went from one of my favorite players to the most hated. Seeing Colts jerseys at Tennessee Volunteers games only made things worse. For 10 years, you saw more Colts jerseys than Titans jerseys in Chattanooga, TN. Not to mention an entire generation of kids (girls and boys) named Peyton. Peyton was to blame for the Titans having no fans in Tennessee. And Peyton was to blame for the division rival being as good as they were.
As Peyton went on to dominate the AFC South, he then had an opportunity to join the Titans after his season-ending injury in Indianapolis. My once-hero to my long-time hated rival, to a high possibility of him being the leader of my team. It was a tough situation. But I wanted him. I wanted him for his talent. I wanted him to make the Titans known nationally and locally. I never wanted to see a Colts jersey in Knoxville again.
The Titans then threw out their plan to strengthen the defensive side of the ball. They go all out for Manning. So what happens next? Peyton decides to take less money to go play for the Broncos.
Ouch. That one hurt.
Peyton Manning has put Tennesseans on more of an emotional roller coaster than any player in NFL history. But he has also continued to be the best player to ever come out of Tennessee and quite possibly the best quarterback to ever play. He knows the game better than any quarterback out there and is consistent as they come.
He's an incredible talent, one that I wish was back home in Tennessee.
PFS Bengals Team Journalist Vance Meek
As a Cincinnati Bengals fan, it’s bittersweet when Peyton Manning comes to town. Manning has dominated the Bengals, going 7-0 in his career. I love to watch him play but it's hard to face him knowing he's probably going to beat my team. Luckily, the Bengals won't face him in 2013.
Manning is one of the top five quarterbacks of all-time. He doesn't have the greatest arm or the prettiest deep ball, but his intelligence is unmatched. His ability to seemingly know what the defense is going to do and make the proper adjustments is superhuman. His career is legendary.
His latest feat, coming back from a serious neck injury, shows just how tough he really is and just further cements his place in history. As his career winds down, he may get just a few more shots at a championship.
I wouldn't bet against him.
PFS Titans Team Journalist Kenneth Gomez
I'm with Seth. I respect the heck out of Peyton Manning—he's probably a nice, funny guy with a fantastic work ethic. And he is from the University of Tennessee! Makes up for a great guy. I really don't hold the fact that he played for the Titans division rival, the Colts, for over a decade against him either; however, there is one thing about Peyton that has cause me to dislike him a bit: his free-agency period.
Manning danced around the nation for what seemed like a year as he chose a team. He led a lot of teams on, especially the Titans. I wouldn't be angry if he had not held out on his decision for so long because the team could have moved on and focused on other free-agent acquisitions.
That's not what happened. The team missed out on signing some big name players because they focused so much on bringing the giant forehead back to Tennessee.
Whatever. It's water under the bridge now and I'm happy that he's succeeding in Denver.
PFS Colts Team Journalist Jake Arthur
Over the last 10-15 years, my city of Indianapolis has transformed into one of the best entertainment/event hosting cities in the United States. We have hosted a Super Bowl, NCAA Basketball Tournaments (including Final Fours), NCAA Football and Basketball Big Ten Tournaments, national conventions and much more. We have a very nice downtown area highlighted by the canal, the zoo, the convention center, Victory Field, Bankers Life Fieldhouse and Lucas Oil Stadium (many of which are among the best of their kind in the country).
Most of the city's success during this time frame is traced back to one man: Peyton Manning.
Peyton has meant so much more than just being an All-Pro quarterback to Indianapolis. Sure he has led the Colts to two Super Bowl appearances and multiple playoff wins. But in Indianapolis, Manning also has a children's hospital that bears his name. He has the PeyBack Foundation as well as an annual high school football series: the PeyBack Classic. He has done countless things for charity.
Most importantly, the attention he brought the Colts through his success led to attention to the city he played so many years in. Many people either had misconceptions or didn't know about Indianapolis. But the money he has brought into the city has put it on the map. Believe me, Indianapolis before Peyton was nothing compared to what it is now.
That's why when Colts owner Jim Irsay and Peyton made the very difficult decision to part ways after the 2011 season, it hit residents of the state of Indiana very hard. Even with the next big thing at quarterback, Andrew Luck, there are many Colts fans who will resent Jim Irsay for the rest of their days because they miss Peyton.
I remember my mom and I literally shed tears during Peyton's farewell news conference—we weren't the only ones. It was one of the most heartbreaking things that I have ever watched.
Thank you, Peyton Manning. My city has much more life and promise. It goes way beyond football. Manning will always be a Colt and always be a Hoosier.
PFS Broncos Team Journalist Chad Jensen
As a Broncos fan, up until 2012, I hated Peyton Manning. After all, he was the Bronco killer. You can even argue that Peyton is the reason that the Broncos traded back-to-back 1,500-yard rusher Clinton Portis to the Washington Redskins in exchange for Champ Bailey.
In 2003, the Broncos suffered a humiliating 41-10 loss to the Colts. It was in Indianapolis. Peyton Manning shredded the Broncos defense for 394 passing yards and five touchdowns. In my 33 years as a Broncos fan, it was in my top three most humiliating losses ever. The secondary just got absolutely destroyed. It was a harsh wakeup call.
So in the offseason, Mike Shanahan trades our third-year Pro Bowl running back to Washington. Bailey becomes a Bronco. Shanahan orchestrated this trade in response to the beatdown that Peyton administered just a couple of months before in the playoffs.
Then what happens? Bailey goes on to have an All-Pro 2004 season and the Broncos make it to the AFC Wild Card—again. Guess who they must face? None other than Peyton Manning.
Mike Shanahan had the opportunity to completely validate the headline-grabbing offseason trade he'd made, IF they could beat the Colts in Indy. What happened? Another vicious beatdown. 49-24. Peyton had 454 yards passing with four touchdowns.
What's the moral to this story? Well, as much as I hated those two playoff losses, without Peyton Manning, we wouldn't have Bailey. As we all know, Champ went on to build a Hall-of-Fame career in Denver. Portis faded away. Sure he had a couple of good seasons with the Redskins, but nothing compared to what Champ achieved in Denver.
With Manning coming to Denver last year, Broncos fans get the best of both worlds. Portis is gone from the NFL. We still have Bailey and now we have Peyton "The Sheriff" Manning.
Thank you for joining Pro Football Spot in this discussion of Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning. Everyone has done a great job giving their two cents on The Sheriff. Love him or hate him, Manning is one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game. He has contributed mightily to how modern-day NFL offenses view the quarterback position.
Check out this video of Manning's highlights as a Bronco
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