Peyton Manning was recognized as the 2014 NFL Offensive Player of the Year. The Denver Broncos’ quarterback obtained that award and broke the record of most touchdowns previously held by legend Brett Favre. Manning has won all awards an NFL player can get. And he can still break other records in professional football, like being the first quarterback to win Super Bowls with two different teams. Manning almost quit the sport in 2011; when the Denver Broncos gave him the opportunity he needed to show that his arm remains the most powerful and effective in the NFL.
Peyton Manning’s life has always been linked to football. He was born in New Orleans in 1976, while his father, Archie, was the quarterback for the New Orleans Saints. Archie went on to play with the Houston Oilers and the Minnesota Vikings. Also Eli, Peyton’s younger brother, is currently the quarterback of the New York Giants. With that team, Eli won the Super Bowl in 2008, a year after Peyton had won it with the Indianapolis Colts in 2007.
The Manning brothers are the only ones in history to win two consecutive Super Bowls. But Peyton possesses all the individual awards an NFL player might dream of, including five times AP Most Valuable Player and the championship ring for the 2007 Super Bowl. In 2014, Manning broke the record of the 508 touchdowns previously held by the legendary Brett Favre.
Times of crisis
Few could imagine –including Manning himself– that he could become the quarterback with the most touchdown passes in the history of the NFL. In 2011, Manning was on the verge of retirement due to a neck injury that took him to the operating room four times. He was released by the Indianapolis Colts, after spending 13 seasons of his professional career with them. “To tell the truth, I doubted I could come back, because the doctor didn’t have a definite answer. I think it was a matter of faith and trust,” Manning said.
The Colts replaced Manning with the rookie Andrew Luck. “Being 35 years old and given the doctor’s hesitation, what the team did was understandable,” said Manning. However, Manning had offered to stay as a backup and as a mentor to Luck, in exchange for keeping his 28 million contract. But his luck changed with a phone call from his friend John Elway.
A call from a friend
Elway, as general manager of the Denver Broncos, offered Manning a 96 million dollar contract for five years. The Broncos took a chance and signed an injured player. That was the boost Manning needed to go from almost being retired, to the beginning of a careful recovery program that allowed him his triumphant comeback on September 2012.
With his performance and leadership, Manning has made the Broncos into the team with the best offense in the NFL. Also, he conquered historical records of 55 touchdowns and 5,477 yards in one season, in 2013. These achievements earned him the Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year Award.
“All these stats just make me feel grateful for my teammates and the coaches that helped me grow and improve as a professional player who is always looking to win on the field,” said Manning after the game against the San Francisco 49ers where he punished them with four touchdowns, including his number 509, scored by wide receiver Demaryius Thomas.
Manning feels honored with his new title, for giving even more prestige to the position of quarterback and for joining the list of legends such as John Unitas, Terry Bradshaw, Joe Montana, John Elway, Dan Marino and Favre, among others. “It is great to see my name next to those who helped guide me and inspired me as a player when I was a kid. They were my idols,” said Manning.
“This mark is even more special than any others, because these passes helped us win many games and we worked really hard for it,” said the athlete. None of the current NFL quarterbacks, including sure bets to the Hall of Fame like Tom Brady, Drew Brees and promising Russell Wilson, question that Manning is the best quarterback currently in the league.
It is true that Manning is enjoying a good time on the offense that other legends did not enjoy. But Brady and Brees, who are contemporaneous, have not been able to match Manning’s touchdown conversions.
Manning was best defined by Favre, who valued the fact that he broke his record, and said that nothing surprised him about Manning. “His only ambition is excellence and that makes him even more special,” said Favre.
So much so, that if he completes his five year contract with the Broncos, other records, previously untouchable in football, might be broken by the new king of touchdown passes, including most total yards, which is also on Favre’s hands with 71,838. Manning, who at the end of this last season, finished with 69,691 yards, 2,147 less than Favre, could easily break that mark during the 2015 season, if he keeps the average of almost 5,000 total yards he has achieved in his three years since he joined the Broncos back in 2012.
Everything seems to indicate that it will happen, because in the current season he finished with 4,727 total yards. And, like Favre said, nothing Manning achieves will be a surprise, including being the first quarterback to get two Super Bowl titles with two different teams, which is now Manning’s greatest sporting dream.
Louis Vasquez and Manny Ramirez are the two Bronco players that guard Peyton Manning on the field. These two men, who attended Texas Tech, were born in the United States, and their families are from Mexico. They spoke with CASA Magazine and told us what it means to them to play and guard this giant of the American football.
Louis Vasquez, No. 65
“It is an honor to play with one of the greatest in the NFL. It’s an unbelievable blessing to be able to play alongside him and to protect him.”
Manny Ramirez, No. 66
“I’ve never played with anyone who takes leadership of a team like he does. He has a way of making you raise your standard of play and want to be better. He doesn’t have to say anything. Just his presence is enough to make you want to perform at a higher level.”