If quarterback success was measured by last names and cheese commercials, then I wouldn't even have to write this article. But that's not how it works.
Peyton Manning is truly an All-American quarterback from a family of football players. His younger brother? Quarterback of the New York Giants. His dad? Ex-quarterback of the New Orleans Saints. His older brother? A football recruit of the University of Mississippi, but doctors told him he had a congenital narrowing of the spinal canal, forcing him to quit the game.
There's no denying the fact that Peyton Manning is one of the greatest quarterbacks in the league right now. But can you really mention him in the same breath as greats like Dan Marino and Joe Montana?
It depends on how you look at it. When you discuss Peyton Manning, you can see it two ways. One way is championships, another way is stats and popularity. Either way you look at it, they both have their pros and cons.
In the entire 12-year career of Peyton Manning, he has won the Super Bowl a grand total of one time. The same number of times that nobodies like Charlie Batch and Trent Dilfer won the Super Bowl [Ed note: Batch actually has two rings, though neither came as a starter]. And when you get down to it, it doesn't matter how well or bad you play, as long as you win championships, you're okay.
But if that's how you put it, does that mean Peyton Manning is on the same level as Batch and Dilfer? Of course not! So why is Manning the exception to this?
Look at his playoff record: 9-9. That's right, he has just a .500 career playoff record. Now how about Kurt Warner's playoff record, 9-4? Or maybe Ben Roethlisberger's playoff record, 8-2? Or how about Donovan McNabb's playoff record, 9-7?
All these players do better than Peyton Manning when it actually matters, but you would never say that Roethlisberger is better than Manning. He's been to the playoffs 10 times! And he's only won the Super Bowl once.
One argument is that when he is done with his career, he will have broken every major passing record. That may be true, but in today's age and era, it isn't worth as much as it used to be.
The NFL has turned this into a pass-friendly league. When Dan Marino was around, 30-21 would be considered a high scoring game. Now that's considered your usual score for your game, and 45-30 is considered a high scoring game now. It's like the scores are juiced.
Then there's the rules. The rules on pass interference and roughing the passer are just short of ridiculous. The rule for pass interference might as well say, "you can't touch the receiver until he has caught the ball, safely has it tucked in, and is in a position where he can take a hit."
What has the NFL come to! Cornerbacks have to helplessly watch Manning throw beautiful meatballs to Reggie Wayne for 30-yard gains every Sunday.
Then there's the rule in which you can't lay a FINGER on the quarterback or else you'll be getting a heavy letter from Roger Goodell the next day.
Here we have these monster, 6'5" 300 pound linemen tearing O-lines apart. Then when they get to Manning, they are forced to awkwardly tackle him so they don't hit him too high, don't hit him too low, don't hit him to defenseless, and don't hit him too hard. Only then, you MIGHT get a sack without the zebras throwing seven yellow flags in your face.
But let's forget about playoff records, Super Bowls, and rules. Let's talk about the impact Manning has had in the world of media. Few people have dominated the market like Peyton Manning has. You cold put him up there with Jeter, Cena, Woods, Federer, and Jordan as the most marketable sports figures.
He's everywhere! Jerseys, trading cards, sportswear, TVs, advertisements, charities, posters, et cetera. His impact on the community is immeasurable. Millions and millions of fans around the world adore him.
While other football players are hosting dog fights, shooting themselves in the leg, and assaulting their wives, Manning's reputation has remaind unscratched. All he does is come to practice, work hard, go to games, throw passes, then collect his paycheck every month. C'mon Manning! We need stories to write!
Ultimately, it's an unanswerable question on Manning's legacy in the game. It's like this question: what came first, the chicken or the egg?
Should we measure Manning's success by his stats, and then criticize him for playing in a pass-happy league (which he has no control over), or should we measure Manning's success on playoff appearances, and then criticize him for not winning the big game more than once?
If you're a true sports fan, then really weigh the cases. Most casual fans won't even think that Manning doesn't deserve to be among the greatest. Because he is one of the most beloved figures in sports, because fans love a star quarterback a lot more than they love a star defensive player.
That's why Manning advertises for Gatorade, and Polamalu advertises for dandruff shampoos.