Peyton Manning has officially crossed the road after informing the Denver Broncos of his retirement in the NFL. Manning is set to announce his retirement on Monday, as most fans believe he was the greatest quarterback ever to play in the NFL as an Indianapolis Colt and ending his career with the Denver Broncos, according to ESPN.
Manning does bring all of those big-time NFL passing records to go with his freshly minted distinction as the first quarterback to lead two franchises to Super Bowl crowns. And if there were a Mount Rushmore for NFL quarterbacks throughout history, Peyton undoubtedly would be cast in stone alongside Montana, Tom Brady and Johnny Unitas. But that still doesn’t put him at the top of the heap.
Time makes it difficult to rank and compare the greats from the different periods. Stopping at 10 is quite a task, too. But someone has to try. My ranking of the Top 10 quarterbacks in league history:
1. Joe Montana: The San Francisco 49ers icon not only won all four of his Super Bowls he appeared in, he didn’t throw a single pick on the Super stage.
2. Tom Brady: He entered the NFL as a sixth-round draft pick, and may have passed for 14,000 fewer yards than Manning, but he’s won twice as many championships (4) in six Super Bowl appearances with the New England Patriots.
3. Peyton Manning: He can thank Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware and the rest of the Denver Broncos defense for helping him bring home a Super Bowl victory nine years after he led the Indianapolis Colts to glory. But the fact that he rode with the D — and didn’t make the game-swinging gaffe — hardly diminishes the legacy he leaves as one who elevated the craft of quarterbacking. And there was all of that production. Manning owns the NFL marks for career passing yards (71,940), touchdowns (539), MVP awards (5), 4,000-yard seasons (14) and on and on.
4. Johnny Unitas: The Manning-like quarterback model of his era in the ’50s and ’60s with the Baltimore Colts, Unitas ranks fourth as the quintessential representative of the old-school crew. He didn’t have the yards — or the liberalized rules that made passing in this age easier to achieve — but it’s pretty much a given that Unitas would have thrived in any era.
5. Otto Graham: Never saw him play. But he guided the Cleveland Browns to 10 consecutive championship game appearances during the 1940s and 1950s in the All-American Conference and NFL — and they won seven titles. That speaks volumes.
6. John Elway: Carried the Broncos for years, with the knack for winning in crunch time and repeatedly leading them to the big game. Then Terrell Davis came along as the perfect wing man.
7. Brett Favre: The three-time NFL MVP owned all the big passing records before Manning surpassed the marks — and always seemed to be having big fun.
8. Roger Staubach: The consummate leader of the ’70s Dallas Cowboys, who advanced to five Super Bowls. Played with a certain type magic that we see today with Russell Wilson. Quite the comeback artist, too.
9. Dan Marino: The first to pass for 5,000 yards in a season, he retired as the NFL’s all-time leading passer. If only he played on teams that had more balance.
10. Jim Kelly: No way that the tough-as-nails Kelly is not on the list — not after four consecutive Super Bowl appearances with the Buffalo Bills. After slinging it in the USFL, Kelly fit the K-Gun scheme to a T.
Peyton Manning has a solid record, but is ranked third on this list. Anyone can make up their own list based on football stats.