Football is a team game. There’s 11 guys on the field at any given time, and like no other sport in the world, they have to work together in order to achieve success. Too often quarterbacks get too much of the credit for their team’s win-loss record. Nothing irritates me more when someone argues that one quarterback is better than another because “all he does is win.” By that logic, Russell Wilson is as great a quarterback as Peyton Manning because both of their teams went 13-3 this year. All due respect to Wilson, that’s just not true.
The knock on Manning throughout his career has been that he’s a great regular season quarterback, but he can’t get it done in the playoffs. It’s nonsense. It’s rancid bologna.
Manning invariably gets compared to Tom Brady, who the Broncos beat on Sunday to advance to the Super bowl. Because Brady won three rings early in his career people have assumed this somehow means he’s superior to everyone else who plays the position. This is also nonsense. Brady played impressively in that era, but he won those Super bowls because the Patriots were the most well-rounded team in the NFL, not because he’s infallible.
Manning has been to the Super bowl twice and won once, but if you listen to a lot of causal football fans, you’d think that he’d never even so much as sniffed the big game. A whole lot can happen in a single game and one player, no matter how skilled he is, can only have so much of an impact. The last time Manning played in the Super bowl he wasn’t even on the field during the onside kick that gave the Saints such an enormous boost to start the second half. There was nothing he could have done about it, but for some reason people point to that game as if it somehow tarnished his legacy. Don’t believe it.
If we’re going to be completely honest about it, Peyton did not have a championship supporting cast during most of his seasons playing for the Indianapolis Colts. If he had the level of talent that he’s playing with today in Denver all along Manning might have more rings than he would even know what to do with.
When Richard Sherman ranked the smartest quarterbacks in the league in his recent Sports Illustrated article and Manning was at the top of his list, it wasn’t flattery. Just in case you have been living under a rock on Pluto the last three days, you should know that Sherman doesn’t do flattery. Seattle’s defense knows that they haven’t faced a challenge like this all year.
The Seahawks are lucky to be facing Manning. By that I mean they are terribly, terribly unlucky, but this team prides itself on proving doubters wrong, and they will never get a better chance than this to prove their mettle. As tough as the 49ers were, Manning’s Broncos are a whole ‘nother animal. They are the most prolific offensive unit in NFL history. If Seattle can beat them in the Super bowl they will become legendary.
It’s going to be an uphill battle, though. Take a look at Manning’s career numbers, courtesy of ESPN:
The first thing that jumps out to me here is Manning’s durability. Aside from sitting out the entire 2011 campaign with a broken neck, he has not missed a single game in his career. Consistensy is key as well. After his rookie year, Manning’s completion percent never dropped below 62 percent. Each year he has generally thrown for over 4,000 yards and his touchdown to interception ratio is rock solid for someone who throws the ball as much as he has.
What you may also notice here is he’s getting better with time. The last three seasons his average yards per pass and total scores have gone up, while his interceptions have gone down. His rating in 2013 was the highest since 2004. This year Manning also not only beat Brady’s single season touchdown record, he shattered it.
You can make decent arguments for Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, and Drew Brees, but in my mind Peyton Manning is the best quarterback of our time, and the Seahawks should consider it an honor to face him on the biggest stage.
Richard Sherman’s post-game rant isn’t the problem. All the racism surrounding it is another story.