Football is and has always been a team sport.
Which is why the incessant need among football fans to label a player as the singular best ever player, completely baffles me.
There are so many variables that it really is an impossible task.
So what do we do?
We break it down into categories.
Best regular season quarterback? Best post-season quarterback?
We then ask ourselves, what’s more important? Regular season success? Super Bowl rings?
We spit out names like Marino, Unitas, Montana, Favre and Brady.
And of course — Peyton Manning.
Manning entered the Super Bowl on Sunday night with the idea that this one game could define his entire legacy.
That wasn’t Manning’s stance, however. He didn’t care to speak about his legacy at all in the media firestorm leading up to the Super Bowl.
But given it’s position as a top Super Bowl storyline, combined with our obsession to label a quarterback as the best ever, it led us to placing a supreme importance on this game in regards to Manning’s legacy.
Somehow if Manning were to win another Super Bowl, it would erase any playoff failures he’d had in the past. If only he could have beat Seattle, then he’d have only one less ring than Brady and folks could rationalize that his supreme regular season stats placed him atop the list of the best quarterbacks ever.
But that’s not how it went for Manning. The Broncos were humiliated, in large part due to Manning’s poor performance.
What I’m struggling with, however, is that had the Broncos beat the Seahawks, folks would have no problem calling Peyton the best ever. Just because of ONE Game.
Now, because Manning and Denver lost, he’s seemingly out of the discussion?
That doesn’t make sense.
A loss in February doesn’t change the 55 touchdowns that Manning threw at the age of 37. It doesn’t change the 5,477 yards he threw for after multiple neck surgeries that left his arm a shell of it’s former self.
It doesn’t change the NFL record five MVP awards. It doesn’t change the career records that Manning will likely break. It doesn’t change any of that stuff, but for some reason this one game defines Manning’s legacy more than the Super Bowl he won in 2006, more than all of his incredible stats.
I’m not saying Manning is the best ever. I don’t believe that’s a revelation you can make. I don’t even think there should be a discussion, but this is sports and this is what we do when the games have been played and there’s a long off-season looming ahead.
But if there is going to be a discussion, than Manning has to be squarely in the middle of it, regardless of a win or loss in Super Bowl XLVIII.
Folks, Peyton Manning is ONE of the best ever.
It’s time for fans to realize that’s about as much clarity as you can get in this debate.