For most people out there, this question can have two different answers. The older generation of football fans are easily going to vote and say that Johnny Unitas revolutionised the game, and that he is the true main man in Indianapolis.
But what about Peyton? Surely No. 18 is more than close to getting his fair share of the pie when it comes to having his name go down in the book of Colts greats.
Johnny Unitas, however, has set the bar pretty darn high, and obviously isn't willing to let go of the franchise team that he basically created.
Former Super Bowl Champion, 10 time Pro Bowl selection, 11 MVP trophies, and the 1970 Man of the Year Award, gives Unitas the upper hand in the race of Unitas vs. Manning.
With this said though, Peyton isn't far off stride. Johnny Unitas having won only one Super Bowl in his career with the Baltimore Colts, leaves Peyton Manning tied with him. Still with an arguable ten years or so left in him, Peyton Manning is more than likely to lift the Lombardi Trophy over his head once again, and give Colts fans a reason to believe that their future Hall of Famer deserves to be compared to Unitas.
Stats wise, well it is really a no contest.
Peyton Manning currently is sitting on 366 touchdowns as of Week 17 of the 2009 regular season. Johnny Unitas finished his career with 290 career touchdown passes. Yardage wise it's still a blowout in favor of Manning. 50, 128 on the career of Manning, compared to Unitas' 40, 239.
For those Colts fans out there that have just realised "Wow, Peyton Manning has actually outdone himself," you'd be right.
Although Peyton has the upper hand in stats, trophies, selections, and votes; I still feel that Unitas is the true "Sheriff" in Indianapolis.
Stats are all very nice, but what it comes down to is how the player is perceived. Watch any highlight that has to do with the Colts, and you are bound to hear the words "Just like the great one, Johnny Unitas" come up somewhere in the program.
Unitas had that cult figure status about him. Kind of like Joe Montana did in San Francisco, like Roger Staubach had in Dallas, like Otto Graham had in Cleveland, like Bart Starr had in Green Bay, and like Dan Marino had in Miami.
Has Peyton really gotten to that stage yet?
I guess he has, but a football player's career is defined after he retires. If he is remembered or not, shows whether or not he made a true impact on the game. There is no doubt Peyton Manning is going to be remembered, but if he will be remembered as the bigger and badder guy than Johnny U is the real question.
Manning is loved by, pretty much, all. However, he does have to share the stage with other great quarterbacks that are in the league at the moment. Phillip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger, Kurt Warner, Drew Brees, Carson Palmer, Aaron Rodgers, Brett Favre, the list goes on.
Peyton is a future Hall of Famer, no question. How is he going to hold up in the eyes of NFL fans, though, when it comes time to say who the greatest Colts quarterback was. For those that pay attention to stats, Manning will win hands down. For those that pay attention to ego, strength, leadership, and true heart for the game; well it may be a different story.