Denver Broncos: How Peyton Ranks Among Past Broncos' Quarterbacks

Joe Rapolla Jr.Featured ColumnistOctober 19, 2012

SAN DIEGO, CA - OCTOBER 15:  Quarterback Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos drops back to pass against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium on October 15, 2012 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Peyton Manning has, without question, invigorated Denver. 

The Mile High City is head-over-heels in love with their new quarterback, and they have good reason to be so. Sure, Denver sits at only 3-3 after six games, but Broncos' fans have not seen their team this relevant and competitive since the John Elway days.

Denver's three losses have come at the hands of three of the league's best teams, (Houston Texans, Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots), and to the Broncos' credit, they played all of those games extremely closely. 

If Manning never picked up a football again after today, he would still be a first-ballot Hall of Famer and in the discussion of best quarterback ever, so his agenda has nothing to do with padding his resume. (56,636 yards and 413 touchdowns is more padding than Michael Vick wears on game days.)

Peyton is playing to win, and because of that, the Broncos have new hope. 

While Manning's resume is stacked beyond belief, it's time to wonder how Peyton will be remembered exclusively as a Bronco. He already has more yards and touchdowns as Denver-great John Elway, but Elway achieved all of his statistics in a blue and orange uniform.

Peyton has done wonders for the Colts, but he's just starting to give to the Broncos. Peyton, despite being a phenom of his generation, still has to earn in spot in Denver's history books. 

Since Denver became a franchise in 1960, 44 quarterbacks have started games for the Broncos. The majority of these were career backups who got their small handful of starts as injury replacements, such as Gary Kubiak, who now is the head coach for the Houston Texans.

Only a few of the 44 quarterbacks deserve mention, and one of these men is Frank Tripucka, who was the first quarterback to ever start for the Denver Broncos

Tripucka's name is probably only familiar to the most well-read NFL historians, yet his impact in Denver was significant. He got the franchise on the map, and was the first quarterback to throw for 3,000 yards in a season. His number, 18, was also the first retired by the Denver Broncos, and interestingly enough, Tripucka granted Manning permission to wear this number when he was signed by the team.

Statistically, Manning should trump Tripucka's Broncos' figures. Historically, Tripucka still holds more relevance for the franchise. 

Then you have Marlin Briscoe, who was a jack of all trades. Briscoe was a wide receiver, a defensive back and a quarterback, and while he only spent one year with the Broncos, he holds the honor of being the first black quarterback to start in the AFL, which was very groundbreaking at the time.

Briscoe doesn't come close to being in the same discussion with Manning in terms of greatness, yet his stint with Denver is one that should be remembered. 

Finally, there was Craig Morton, who joined the Broncos in 1977 after a successful career with the Dallas Cowboys and a forgettable stint with the New York Giants. Morton's case is similar to Manning's, yet on a lesser scale. He was already a star in the league, yet had experienced a down period in his career. He revived his name in Denver, however, and led the Broncos to their first Super Bowl, which they lost to the Dallas Cowboys.

With this achievement, Morton was named the 1977 Comeback Player of the Year and became the first quarterback to start in two Super Bowls for two different teams. He is a member of the Denver Broncos Ring of Fame and is regarded very highly among the Denver fanbase. 

While Manning is without question a more dominant quarterback than all of these men, he still has to put in some more time and gain a few more achievements before his he'll be remembered as a Bronco great.

For Manning, he undoubtedly loves this; he has a clean slate and is reviving his career in a new city that is endlessly passionate about their football team. 

So where does Peyton Manning rank among past Denver quarterbacks? Second, after John Elway, of course.