I’m not going to tell you how to feel about Peyton Manning, because that’s pointless.
You feel how you feel. No blog post will change that.
I will tell you, though, that I don’t understand people who dislike Peyton Manning. Makes zero sense to me. Hating Peyton Manning is like hating pizza. Or The Dark Knight.
You’re weird if you dislike The Dark Knight. I will not make any effort to be your friend if I learn of your disdain for The Dark Knight. Because there must be something “off” about you. And I have little desire to be friends with people who are “off.”
OK, now that we’ve established this, onto Manning: If Denver loses tonight, I’ll feel as bad for Peyton Manning as anyone can feel for a professional athlete.
We all know what’s at stake here in New York. Manning will either move to 2-1 in Super Bowls and have a legitimate case for best quarterback of all-time or he’ll move to 1-2 and he won’t have a case at all. Normally such matters aren’t so simple, but when it comes to Manning, the whole thing is pretty cut-and-dry.
That doesn’t make it entirely fair.
While I’m no X’s and O’s expert, I’ve watched enough football to conclude with absolute certainty that Peyton Manning can pick apart a defense unlike anyone else. That’s my criteria for calling him the best ever. And I know that the average regular season game for Manning is 270.68 yards, 2.04 touchdowns and 0.91 interceptions.
Others in the “greatest of all-time conversation”:
Tom Brady — 254.65 yards, 1.86 touchdowns, 0.69 interceptions
Dan Marino — 253.55 yards, 1.73 touchdowns, 1.04 interceptions
Brett Favre — 237.87 yards, 1.68 touchdowns, 1.11 interceptions
Joe Montana — 211.20 yards, 1.42 touchdowns, 0.72 interceptions
I know that Manning’ s postseason averages are pretty nice, too:
Peyton Manning — 286.77 yards, 1.63 touchdowns, 1 interception
Tom Brady — 247.07 yards, 1.65 touchdowns, 0.84 interceptions
Dan Marino — 250.55 yards, 1.77 touchdowns, 1.33 interceptions
Brett Favre — 243.95 yards, 1.83 touchdowns, 1.25 interceptions
Joe Montana — 250.95 yards, 1.95 touchdowns, 0.91 interceptions
Manning’s postseason yardage is significantlybetter than his peers, which tells me two things: A.) He actually plays pretty well in the playoffs and B.) He’s throwing a lot because his team is losing.
I know that Peyton Manning doesn’t play defense, and for years he had a pretty mediocre one in Indianapolis.
I know he screwed up in the 2003 AFC championship game against New England (four interceptions), but let’s examine a few other playoff losses: In 2007, Manning threw for 310 yards and a touchdown without committing a single turnover. The Chargers rushed for 167 yards, got the ball first in overtime and Manning never saw the field again.
The next year, again versus San Diego, he threw for 402 yards, three touchdowns and two picks. The Billy Volek/Michael Turner-led Chargers marched 78 yards for a game-winning touchdown with 4:50 remaining. Manning had a chance, brought his Colts to the San Diego 7-yard-line, but couldn’t punch it in.
You could say he choked, sure. You could say Brady would’ve found a way to get in the endzone. But answer this: Would Brady’s early Super Bowl teams, built largely on defense, ever allow Billy Volek to drive 78 yards for a game-winning score?
Football is a complicated game. Unfortunately for Manning, football legacy isn’t. We all know how it’s judged: Manning wins and he’s a legend. He loses and he’s a merely legendary regular season quarterback.
So what’ll happen?
Well, I’ve got Seattle in a tight one, 27-23. And I’ve still got Manning as the best quarterback I’ve ever seen.