Column: Peyton Manning leaves the game a winner

Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning speaks during his retirement announcement at team headquarters Monday, March 7, 2016, in Englewood, Colo. Manning, who has been in the NFL for the past 18 years, is retiring after winning five MVP trophies and two Super Bowl championships, the most recent last month against the Carolina Panthers. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning officially called it quits yesterday in front of a jam-packed media pressroom in Denver, Colorado, after 18 historic seasons in the National Football League.

The five-time league MVP will ride off into the sunset the same way his now former general manager, John Elway, did 17 seasons ago. 

Statistically, Manning is one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever step on the gridiron. The Sherriff has set numerous NFL records including career passing yards (71,940), passing yards in a season (5,477), career passing touchdowns (539), passing touchdowns in a season (55), regular season wins by quarterback, which he is tied with Brett Favre (186) and the most MVP awards in NFL history (5). 

Manning’s stats and records cannot be refuted. He is also the only quarterback in NFL history to win Super Bowls with two different teams. The main criticism of Manning has been his postseason success. Manning has a career mark of 14-13 in the post season. However, the future Hall of Famer would have retired with a losing record in the playoffs if his team did not make the Super Bowl run this season.

Manning’s performance in the postseason has been his biggest demon when it comes to comparing him to Tom Brady (22-9) and Joe Montana’s (16-7) postseason records. However a second Super Bowl is capable of changing some of these views. 

Only 11 other quarterbacks in NFL history have won multiple Super Bowls. Manning’s second piece of jewelry has undeniably placed him in an elite group of quarterbacks. However, the fact that Manning was carried by an all-time defense during his injury-riddled final season does not help his case too much. He was simply a shadow of himself. He was managing the game rather than changing it. 

So if Manning holds almost every record, and he has two Super Bowl titles under his belt, does that makes him the best ever?  The honest answer is no. 

The former Tennessee standout is on the Mount Rushmore of quarterbacks, but he is not going to be on the one-dollar bill. That spot is reserved for Brady or Montana, depending on your outlook of the two Patriots cheating scandals. These two men have four Super Bowl rings, and they were the most dominant players of their generation. They have the stats, wins, and Super Bowls. They are the only quarterbacks with all three.

In my book, Manning falls at either the third or fourth spot, neck and neck with another Bronco great, John Elway. Elway had a very similar career to Manning. They both experienced heartache and struggle when it came to winning on the big stage early on in their careers. 

All the talk about legacy has not seemed to faze Manning. Frankly, it never has bothered him. He has always been a team-oriented player that always puts the organization first. He has continued to do this even after retirement.  

"Grateful is the word that comes to my mind when it comes to the Denver Broncos," Manning said Monday.

Elway was outspoken about Manning Sunday after the retirement news officially surfaced. Troy Renck quoted Elway saying the following in the Denver Post:

"When you look at everything Peyton has accomplished as a player and person, it's easy to see how fortunate we've been to have him on our team," Elway said. "Peyton was everything that we thought he was and even more – not only for the football team, but in the community. I'm very thankful Peyton chose to play for the Denver Broncos, and I congratulate him on his Hall of Fame career."

Manning has certainly lived up to every expectation that was put on his shoulders as a student back at the University of Tennessee. He has shattered almost NFL record, earned the respect of teammates and opponents and most of all; he is leaving a winner.


Eddie Leonard is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He tweets @EddieLeonard23.