Peyton Manning Is an All-Time Great Even If He Retires After 2013-14 Season

Tyler BrookeSenior Analyst IIJanuary 13, 2014

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 12:  Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos passes against the San Diego Chargers during the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 12, 2014 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The debate will always go on as to whether he's the greatest quarterback of all time. But even if he retires after this season, Peyton Manning will go down as an all-time great at the quarterback position.

The Denver Broncos were able to take down the San Diego Chargers 24-17 in the divisional round, setting up an AFC Championship matchup against the New England Patriots. If Manning and company can take down rival QB Tom Brady and the Patriots, then Peyton will be heading to the third Super Bowl appearance of his career.

This upcoming game will be big for the legacies of both Manning and Brady. However, even if Peyton can't pull out the win, he'll go down as one of the greatest QBs to ever play.

Just this season, Manning had one the greatest years any quarterback has ever had—doing at 37 years old. He finished with 5,477 yards, 55 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions while completing 68.3 percent of his passes. He broke single season records for both passing yards and touchdowns through the air, reclaiming his old TD record that Tom Brady broke back in 2007.

From a career standpoint, Manning is closing in on several huge titles. As you can see below, he ranks near the top in almost all major passing categories, and with a couple more seasons he could break all of them.

Manning Career Passing Ranks
CategoryCareerAll-Time RankBehind No. 1
Passing Yards64,9642nd6,874
Passing Touchdowns4912nd17

Looking at those ranks, it's realistic to believe with how he's playing, Manning is two seasons away from becoming the leader in all of those categories. However, his future appears to be up in the air, as there's a chance that this could be his last season.

According to ESPN's Chris Mortensen, there's a chance that this could be Manning's last season in the NFL. Mortensen went into more detail explaining the situation:

Despite setting NFL single-season records for passing yards and touchdowns in 2013 with the Denver Broncos, Manning will undergo the physical exam in March, as mandated by his contract, the sources told Mortensen.

If the exam reveals that his neck is stable, Manning plans to return to the Broncos in 2014, regardless of how Denver fares this postseason, according to sources.

But if there is an increased risk of injury, Manning will be forced to decide whether to retire, sources said.

The thought of an NFL without Peyton Manning is scary to some, especially Indianapolis Colts and Broncos fans. But at the same time, he's had an incredible career that few will ever forget.

He's won four MVP awards, more than any other player ever, along with 13 Pro Bowl selections, seven First-Team All-Pro selections and the 2012 Comeback Player of the Year award.

His 167-73 record in the regular season gives him an impressive 69.6 percent win percentage, but everyone will talk about his failures in the postseason.  He's gone 10-11 in the playoffs, winning only one Super Bowl ring despite all of his regular season success.

Still, Manning has played well in a lot of those losses, and he still has a Super Bowl ring, which is something that great players like Dan Marino were never able to get. 

With a win against the Patriots, Manning can take down his rival in Brady while also making it to his third Super Bowl. Even if he can't get there, there's no way that Manning won't be remembered as easily one of the greatest quarterbacks, if not overall players, to ever play the game.