Peyton Manning is the definition of what an NFL quarterback should be. He is a team leader. He personifies toughness, having never missed a game. And he is the ultimate student of the game, never missing the opportunity to learn something new.
His career statistics are mind boggling. Through 12 seasons, he has amassed 366 touchdown passes to only 181 interceptions. (Better than 2:1 TD to INT ratio). He has over 50,000 passing yards (averaging over 4,000 per season). He has the fourth highest QB rating in history at 95.2, and he has never missed a game.
A four time NFL MVP, a nine time pro bowler, and a five time NFL All first teamer, Manning has lead the Colts to the playoffs in 10 of his 12 seasons at the helm. All 10 of those seasons he provided the franchise with double digit victories.
Some people would argue that statistics don't measure a players greatness as much as winning games, and winning championships does. Manning has answered this call as well. While he doesn't have as many Super Bowl titles as Montana or Brady, he has more than Marino, and the same number as Favre.
It is not a far cry to think that when his career comes to its conclusion, Peyton Manning could very well hold every major statistical record for the quarterback position. The thing that makes that all the more impressive, is that he would be doing it while for the most part having a very successful running game behind him.
Between Marshall Faulk, Edgerrin James, and Joseph Addai, 8 out of Manning's 12 seasons (67%) have provided him with a running back who gained at least 900 yards rushing. Favre has been given that same support in 67% of his seasons as well, while Marino only had that running productivity in 24% of his seasons.
On top of his gaudy personal statistics and the championship ring that he owns, is the leadership ability. Watching Manning at the line of scrimmage is like watching a maestro conduct a symphony. He has such command over everyone on the field, and knows the exact spot that he wants everyone to line up in before he is ready to snap the ball.
There is no other player in the league that is given as much creative freedom to run the play that he chooses as Peyton Manning. And that was a responsibility that was earned, not given.
On and off the field Peyton Manning is a winner. While the critics will argue that he has only one Super Bowl, the numbers speak for themselves. Peyton Manning could retire today, and he could still very easily go down as the greatest to ever play his position. But there is no need to talk about retirement at this point, because I have a hunch that Peyton isn't done hoisting the Lombardi trophy just yet.