If you had an opportunity to make a list of qualities you want in a quarterback, one that would become the face of a franchise and one day lead your squad to championship glory…chances are you would describe Peyton Manning in some way, shape or form.
High IQ: Proper Preparation prevents poor performance. There hasn’t been a quarterback built like Peyton when it comes to preparation. The endless hours of film, playbook analysis and ability to identify weaknesses in a defense on the fly were undoubtedly what separated Peyton from his peers. We all joke about his audibles at the line of the scrimmage as he yells “Omaha! Omaha!” but defenses all over the NFL have to come to fear the mind of Peyton even more so than his arm.
“There were other players that were more talented than me but there was no one that could out prepare me.”
Arm Strength / Precision: That Manning arm runs deep in his family of quarterbacks (father Archie played for the Saints and his younger brother Eli being 2-time Super Bowl champ himself) but Peyton was a man of his own. Developing textbook skill over his stellar 18 year career landing eventually placing him number one all-time in passing TDs (539), number one all-time in passing yards (71,940) and the most victories all-time as a quarterback (200).
Confidence / Perseverance: As a rookie coming out of Tennessee, Manning impressed scouts beyond his performance on the field and in the film room. That “it” factor was embedded in his system and everyone noticed from day one at the Scouting combine. There are some things players just can’t be taught…those intangibles are normally what separate the good players from the great ones and the great ones from Hall of Famers. If there was ever a question about his confidence just ask Colts GM at the time about their discussion prior to Indianapolis making him their #1 pick in 1998 – “If you pick me, I guarantee you that we will win a championship and we’ll have a great program here. If you don’t, I’ll come back and I’ll kick your a**.”
That confidence was put to the test as his first season was far from the Peyton numbers we have grown accustomed to seeing as the Colts went 3-13 and he still holds the record for throwing the most interceptions as a rookie. Did he shake him? Not any more than a hard hit from Brian Urlacher or JJ Watt would. Manning took it in stride using that season as a wake up call to better himself, eventually making good on his promise to the Colts front office winning a Super Bowl in 2007.
That same perseverance and confidence would be necessary once again late in his career as father time began to creep up on Peyton following a neck surgery that jeopardized his football dreams. Many questioned whether or not he would be the “same” ever again, others wrote him off but fellow Hall of Fame caliber quarterback John Elway saw a fit in his Denver Broncos organization and gave Manning a second chance at football greatness. With a first to arrive/last to leave work ethic, ability to prepare and sheer will to win – Manning went on to become the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year in 2013 before ending his career as a Super Bowl champion this past season.
Looking back on Peyton Manning’s career there is much to take away – whether you focus on his love the game, team first approach in every aspect, or even that ironic fact of the NFL’s rookie record for most interceptions thrown in a season is held by the same player who is a 14-time Pro Bowler, 1st all time in Career TD passes, yards AND victories. That speaks volumes in itself.
In case you missed it…
— NFL (@NFL) March 7, 2016
“Every moment, every drop of sweat, every bleary eyed night of preparation…every note I took, every frame of film I watched..was about ONE thing. Reverence for this game. You don’t have to wonder if I’ll miss it, absolutely. Absolutely I will. I have finished my football race.”