The Armchair Quarterback’s Take Of The Week
This Is A History Defining Moment For Peyton Manning
When the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks take the field on Sunday it will be a game that every player on both teams will remember for the rest of their lives. There are 53 men on each roster, that’s 106 men that will tell stories about this Super Bowl. Actually, since the NFL only allows 45 men to be active for game day, that means a total of 90 men will have a chance to make an impact on this game and make a place for themselves in NFL lore. However, of those 90 men, none will have their legacy defined by this game more than Peyton Manning.
We all know the numbers:
167 regular season wins
64,964 career passing yards
97.2 career passer rating
Super Bowl Champion
What more does a quarterback need to do?
The answer, of course, is win more titles.
Joe Montana has four Super Bowl rings.
Tom Brady has three Super Bowl rings.
Peyton Manning only has one and while there are countless NFL players and former players that would give ANYTHING for that one ring, when you are stating your case to be the greatest of all time, one ring isn’t enough.
It’s not just the one ring either. It’s the fact that Manning didn’t play especially well in that Super Bowl win and only has a career postseason record of 11-11. When compared to Brady’s 18-8 postseason record you can see the difference. It’s not just Brady though. Ben Roethlisberger is 10-4, Joe Flacco is 9-4, his little brother Eli is 8-3, and the opposing QB on Sunday, Russell Wilson, is already 3-1 in only his second season in the NFL. While a Super Bowl (or any playoff game) is won and lost by the team not just the quarterback, other QBs have made winning in the postseason appear much easier than it has been for Peyton. While some may be afraid to say it out loud after all that Manning has accomplished, there is a place in the back of all of our minds that wonders if he’ll choke when the game is on the line. He’s simply lost too many times in the postseason for it to be ignored.
Peyton Manning could have been the Michael Jordan of football had he faired better in the postseason. He’s likable, marketable, incredibly intelligent, highly competitive, and has a work ethic that has become legendary. He is rewriting the record books in terms of regular season play. If he had three or four Super Bowl rings in his collection he would be THE quarterback. The one that we would forever compare future generations to. He could have been bigger than Montana, eclipsed Brady, and driven Brett Favre from our collective conscious.
But he didn’t. So as it stands right now, Peyton is really just a more likable Favre, a quarterback that has amassed an incredible amount of statistics over a long career while receiving endless media attention but only winning one Super Bowl.
However, he has a chance to move the world’s perception a little closer towards the “all time great” ideal if he wins this game. Imagine for a moment if Peyton Manning were to lead a last minute comeback in the Super Bowl against the best defense in the NFL, in New York, the media capital of the world. If the Denver Broncos win a hard fought Super Bowl against a great opponent because of Peyton Manning’s greatness, then it becomes much harder to define him as an underachiever.
He doesn’t have to look any farther than the man that brought him to Denver, John Elway, to see how winning a Super Bowl (or two) at the very end of your career shifts your legacy. John Elway was Dan Marino before those two Super Bowl wins. You can argue that Elway’s best football was already behind him when he won, but that wasn’t the issue. He was already etched in history as a great player, he needed the rings to make him an “all timer” and he got them.
So when Peyton Manning takes the field Sunday he will be one of 90 players trying to do everything in their power to win the Super Bowl, but he will be the only person trying to put a definitive stamp on their personal legacy. Will he rise to the occasion and ascend to another level of greatness? Will he once again come up short in the post season? Of all the match ups that will be fun to watch on Sunday, none may be more intriguing than Peyton Manning vs the pressure of his own legacy. How he responds to that pressure may have more to do with the outcome of this game than the actual pressure that he faces from the Seattle defense…..
and that’s saying something.
Now onto the game breakdown and final prediction……..
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