Peyton Manning's Place In NFL History
Career Crossroads For The Great Manning
Peyton Manning was sorely missed this year: not just by the Indianapolis Colts but by all of his fantasy football owners as well. As you all probably know by now Peyton Manning’s future, not just as a Colt, but as an NFL player has come into serious doubt over the last 6 months. Fans of the NFL have become spoiled by Manning’s greatness. Manning is the current leader in career passing yards, passing touchdowns, and completions.
Although statistics far from define the legacy of Manning. Manning re- defined the position of quarterback in the NFL acting as an on-field offensive coordinator being able to predict accurately at a freakishly high rate what the defense is trying to do to stop him.
The NFL’s only for time NFL MVP made star players out of ordinary players and made star players into canton bound future hall of famers. His ability to facilitate the offense for his teammates is unparalleled to any other quarterback currently in the league. Manning may not be the greatest quarterback of all time or even currently in NFL right now, but I can guarantee you one thing Manning is the most valuable quarterback to his team’s success in league history.
The Colts went from a regular Super Bowl contender to the team with worst record in the league. To put in perspective on how bad the Colts were this year without Manning; the routinely lowly Cleveland Browns were favored to beat the Colts at home. The Colts fell behind early and often this year and regularly looked confused on offense without Manning behind as they went through three starting quarterbacks before finding their first win of the season. Where Manning was at his best when it seemed like his team had no shot of winning the game, never losing his competitive edge he had over his opponents.
Those Colt teams never believed they were out of a game. Every great athlete is defined by great moments. From Joe Montana’s “The Catch” to Dwight Clark and Elway’s “Drive” against the Browns all great quarterbacks have career defining moments. Manning’s career moment came on one of the biggest stages; the AFC Championship game at home against arch rivals Bill Belicheck and Tom Brady. Manning coming into that game had never defeated Belicheck and Brady in the playoffs going 0-2.
The hype surrounding the game was intense as many so called experts thought Manning would follow in the footsteps of Dan Marino the former great quarterback who never was able to win a Super Bowl. The game at the start looked like a typical Manning debacle against the Patriots, still frustrated and confused by Belicheck’s defensive schemes. The rest of the game as we know it is NFL history as Manning and the Colts charged back from 18 down to beat the Patriots. Proving that not only could he beat the best competition but he could do it when the whole football world is watching.
As for Manning circa de 2012 that 2006 championship season seems like eons ago. Manning who has been rehabbing his injured neck at the Colts training facility is due a roster bonus of 28 million dollars in early march, which the Colts may not pick up leaving the 36 year old injured quarterback a free agent for the first time in his career.
It’s quite obvious that Manning has never had to deal with this kind of pressure as Manning recently stated, “everyone seems to be walking on eggshells right now.”
It’s clear that manning is not used to this situation. Manning has always been the guy that was wanted by everyone from high school, (National High School Gatorade Player of the Year) to college (first overall pick in the NFL Draft) to the NFL with the Colts. This is the first time in Manning’s life that he no idea what his fate will be. Colts owner Jim Irsay recently compared manning to a “politician” obviously upset with Manning’s comments about the atmosphere around the team’s training facility right now.
Some of this uncertainty was erased for Manning, as the Colts hired Ravens defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano.
New General Manager Ryan Grigson, Irsay, and Pagano having several decisions to make over the next several months. Will they draft likely sure fire 1st overall pick Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck and start him right away or will they keep Manning and have Manning teach the young rookie Luck how to excel as an NFL quarterback? Will the Colts keep aging receiver Reggie Wayne who becomes a free agent this offseason and is a longtime favorite target of Manning’s? With the Polians gone along with former head coach Jim Caldwell how will the philosophy of the team change? Keep in mind Pagano is a former NFL safety and was the defensive coordinator of the defensive minded Baltimore Ravens. It’s certainly the end of an era in Indianapolis but is it the end for Manning as well?