If you know me well at all, you know I was going to respond to this statement by Tiki:
“The expectation was that he was never going to be Peyton. I remember having these conversations with people who watched Eli in college, saying, ‘He’s good, but he’s never going to be Peyton, he’s not Peyton.’ Guess what? I think he’s better than Peyton,” Barber said. “Because of clutch. What matters in sports? It’s winning and losing. You get to the stage and what do you do? Eli’s gotten there and he’s won.”
First of all, I’ll get this off my chest: I love each of the Mannings. I know some Colts fans who hate Eli and vice-versa, but I have learned to love all of them including Archie and Cooper. But growing up as a Colts fan gave me the opportunity to be a fan of possibly the greatest quarterback of all-time. With that luxury comes the responsibility of defending him whenever someone tries to diminish his achievements. Honestly, I do get tired writing this argument over and over.
Peyton Manning falls into a similar category as LeBron James for this sports generation in that they make the players around them statistically better. LeBron’s assists and ability to draw the defense in allows his teammates to score points or find assists themselves. In a similar light, Peyton is able to coerce the defense into opening up for his receivers by looking off, head fakes, pump fakes, and all the other moves a quarterback has in his arsenal. Over the years, he has broken a multitude of records. Not only does he break records, but he does them within the confines of sportsmanship. Peyton broke the single season passing touchdown record in 2004. There were plenty of opportunities for Peyton to pad his statistics (the Thanksgiving game against the Lions where he was pulled with 12:49 in the 3rd quarter comes to mind), but Peyton Manning and Tony Dungy decided that being up 41-9 was good enough as any to put the backups in. Tom Brady broke the record a few years later by one touchdown. En route to that record, Brady threw fifty more passing attempts and consistently ran up the score when the game was well over (this game is a fine example). Peyton v. Brady is a hot button topic for me, but I digress.
Peyton has four Most Valuable Player awards, a record. True, Peyton only has one Super Bowl ring compared to Eli’s two, but the Colts were never vaunted for their defense. If you recall the 2007-2008 Super Bowl, it was less of Eli’s slicing and dicing and more of Strahan, Umenyiora, and Tuck regulating the Patriots offensive line and sitting Brady on the ground seemingly every other play. The 2011-2012 Super Bowl against the Patriots was more of the same with a new crew of defensive linemen.
Peyton is on track to break the passing yards and passing touchdowns career mark. He is about 11,500 yards short of the passing yards mark and 72 touchdowns short. Using an average of the trailing three seasons (excluding 2011-2012 due to his injury), it will take him two seasons and four games to break the mark for touchdowns while it will take two seasons and eight games to break the yardage mark. Considering he won MVP last year throwing 37 touchdowns on 4,659 yards, he may well play for five more years if his body can handle it.
Again, Eli is an exceptional quarterback, but Peyton is a once in a generation type player.