Manning legacy takes another hit

Feb 7, 2014 by

The Denver Broncos stunning and humiliating 43-8 loss to the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII highlights another lost opportunity for Peyton Manning.   At 37, his prospects for winning a second championship are dwindling and one has to wonder if he will ever get a chance to play in the Super Bowl again.  The five-time league MVP is still playing at an elite level, but time is running out for him and there isn’t a prolific history of quarterbacks in their late 30’s winning Super Bowls.   As a result of this grim reality, the natural discussion following the debacle of Super Bowl XLVIII is the question of Manning’s legacy and how he will be remembered among the all-time greats.

Statistically, as quarterbacks go, Peyton Manning might have the most impressive regular season resume in the history of the game, but his inability to win the “big game” has muddied how history will regard him.  Manning is simply not the same player in the playoffs as he is in the regular season and several key statistics bear it out. After losing to Seattle he now has the most career losses in the playoffs for a quarterback.  His underwhelming 11-12 playoff record, (1-2 in the Super bowl), juxtaposed with his dominant 167-73 regular season record reveals a telling contrast.   Additionally, Manning ranks second all-time only to Aaron Rodgers in the regular season with 103.1 passing rating, but in the playoffs he ranks 10th with a passing rating of 89.2, one behind his brother, and two-time Super Bowl champion, Eli Manning.   For whatever reason, Peyton has dramatically underperformed in the playoffs and it will tarnish an otherwise outstanding career.

It’s strange and fascinating to consistently witness such a great player unable to overcome his playoff bogeyman.  Of course football is a team game and one might argue that hanging wins and losses on the shoulder of the quarterback is an unjust way of assigning success or failure – the same can be said for baseball pitchers or hockey goalies.   Fair or not, we do so because these positions are the strongest individual determinants for a team’s success and when it matters most Manning has been unable to lead his teams to victory.  For this reason alone he can never be considered the best of all time, nor should he be.  Where he sits among the pantheon of all-time great quarterbacks is somewhere behind the likes of Joe Montana, John Elway, and Tom Brady. Despite Manning’s regular season statistical feats he fails the litmus test of being a champion.   This is how we measure true greatness and Manning is certain to be aware of this cruel reality.

History will not care that Seattle played great defence in Super Bowl XLVIII, rightly or wrongly this game will be remembered for Manning’s failure to win in the clutch yet again.  Yes Manning has won a Super Bowl, but based on the quality of his play he should have won three or four by now.  As a result, he cannot be considered among the top few quarterbacks to play the game unless he finds a way to win at least as many as his younger brother.  He has time to do so, but history is not on his side.



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