Peyton Manning is the greatest regular season quarterback in the history of the National Football League. Manning may be able to add to his Hall-of-Fame resume before all is said and done. There has, throughout the regular season and postseason, been plenty of speculation about Manning’s future following the completion of the playoffs. While many who cover the league believe that we are seeing the final playing days of Manning’s legendary career, the veteran signal-caller who will turn 40 years old in March of 2016 has not yet officially stated his plans for the future. For all we know, Manning could be playing for a different team come September 2016.
Those of us who have been fortunate to follow Manning since his days in college are well aware of his many accomplishments. You may, however, be surprised to learn about some of the NFL records that Manning has broken since first entering the league. Those who would list somebody else – perhaps Joe Montana or Tom Brady – as the greatest overall quarterback in NFL history may mention Manning’s lackluster postseason record when doing so. One Super Bowl victory is hardly anything to ignore, and Manning’s body of work makes him at the very least a candidate to be named the best to ever play the QB position.
15. His Nickname
You probably won’t hear Peyton Manning’s nickname get mentioned during a game; unless, that is, the game is taking place on a Monday Night Football broadcast airing on ESPN. Manning was nicknamed “The Sheriff” by Jon Gruden years ago, and the story goes that Gruden used that name became Manning “lays down the law” when playing against an opponent. That explanation may be a little lame, but “The Sheriff” is, on its own, an awesome nickname for any quarterback. It goes right up there with the “Gunslinger” nickname that Brett Favre earned during his career.
14. He’s Incredibly Punctual
Fans of the New York Giants who are familiar with the rules that were installed by former head coach Tom Coughlin know that Coughlin wanted players five minutes early to meetings. It appears that Peyton Manning subscribes to that same theory. Manning has, during his career, been known to hate being late to anything team-related. While some players loathe completing their media obligations, Manning is often early for interviews. No wonder Manning has such control of the huddle and at the line of scrimmage. It would probably drive him close to crazy if he was flagged for a Delay of Game penalty.
13. He’s THE Most Valuable NFL Player
Pro Football Reference is a website that is routinely referenced in articles about the NFL and about particular players. That website has come up with the “Approximate Value” statistic to place, well, values on those who have been in the league from 1950 all the way up through current days. Peyton Manning is atop of that list, having an Approximate Value of 271 as of the posting of this piece. Second on the list is Green Bay Packers legend Brett Favre. Favre is a whole 16 points behind Manning. Those two will be linked in multiple lists and categories so long as the NFL exists.
12. His Diet
A body is not just a temple for a professional athlete. It is the tool that he uses to make his living, and thus he has to keep his body in tip-top shape. Peyton Manning may sing “chicken parm, you taste so good” in that well-known commercial, but that is not what he eats on game days. Manning, per a story on Mic.com, eats the following before a game: “Two pieces of grilled chicken, a bowl of pasta with marinara sauce, a plain baked potato, a side of broccoli and Gatorade before each game.” You have to give the guy credit, as that is a well-balanced meal; although Manning could probably ditch the Gatorade for water.
11. He Takes Care of Those Who Protect Him
There is an old adage in football that a successful quarterback should take his offensive linemen out to a nice steak dinner after a good game. Peyton Manning has done far more than that over the years. According to a post on Monster, Manning has bought “expensive watches, custom suits and various other gifts for his offensive linemen as a way to show his appreciation.” That’s nice and all, but we want to know what Manning is going to do once he is inducted into the Hall of Fame. Will he buy tickets for everybody who has protected him during his NFL career?
10. He’s A Conservative
Peyton Manning is a smart businessman, and thus he has done well to avoid alienating himself because of his beliefs and his voting habits. With that said, Manning has also been a proud supporter of the Republican Party during his life. Manning has donated thousands upon thousands of dollars to Republican candidates. He was a public backer of former United States President George W. Bush. Manning has also, in the past, talked about how he committed himself to Jesus Christ at the age of 13. Manning is known to pray before every NFL game he plays in.
9. He Was Born a Player
You know how it is said of some professional athletes that they were “born” to play sports? Peyton Manning could be the ideal definition of that description. Manning didn’t just play football as a youth. He expected perfection from himself and from those around him. One story about Manning’s early playing days comes from when he was in seventh grade. According to that tale, Manning yelled at his teammates to “Come on, line, block!” after he had been taken down by a sack. Those middle school offensive line apparently did not have the proper technique in Manning’s eyes.
8. Why He Wears No. 18
Ever wonder why Peyton Manning has worn No. 18 during his NFL career? It was not just handed to him by the Indianapolis Colts. Manning had the number in honor of his brother Cooper, who wore No. 18 when he played football. Unlike Peyton and Eli, Cooper was not able to pursue his dream of playing professional football because he was diagnosed with spinal stenosis. Being one hit away from potentially being paralyzed removed any chance of Cooper playing in the NFL. Peyton, who has mentioned his older brother as being a mentor, has served the number well.
7. He’s Beaten Everybody
Quarterbacks normally don’t beat all 32 teams in the NFL during their careers. They are either so good that they remain on one team for the majority of their careers, or their careers finish before they have an opportunity to reach that accomplishment. Only two quarterbacks in the history of the NFL have, to date, beaten all 32 existing franchises: Peyton Manning and Brett Favre. While Manning and Favre will forever share that honor, it was Manning who was the first quarterback in history to beat 31 franchises. We imagine that Manning will likely forever be humble about having that over Favre.
6. Papa John’s
Odds are that you have seen the numerous Papa John’s commercials that have featured Peyton Manning over the years. It is, of course, no secret that Manning is involved with the franchise and owns Papa John’s restaurants. The exact number of Papa John’s restaurants that Manning purchased back in 2012 is 21. One funny note about that purchase: Manning bought the Papa John’s restaurants just two weeks before marijuana was legalized in Colorado. One who has watched Manning connect with speedy wide receivers should not at all be surprised that the QB has great timing.
5. He’s An Author
It is hardly a rarity that a pro athlete who has been as successful and as famous as Manning would author a book. While you may have read multiple books that have touched upon the life and career of the Super Bowl champion quarterback, you may not know that he had a hand in a children’s book. Peyton, his father Archie and his younger brother Eli are listed as the author of the children’s book Family Huddle, which touches on how the young Manning boys played football and interacted with each other. This could be a nice Christmas gift for the Manning fan who has little ones of his/her own.
4. He’s Got A Great Memory
It has often been said throughout his career that a team having Peyton Manning at the quarterback position essentially has an offensive coordinator on the field during games. Manning is not just an extremely bright individual. He also has an incredible memory. One noteworthy story from the early days of his NFL career claims that Manning memorized the entire Indianapolis playbook a few days after the Colts selected him in the 1998 NFL Draft. That type of dedication and knowledge likely helped the Colts realize that they had something special in the rookie QB.
3. Children’s Hospital
It is no secret that Peyton Manning has been involved in numerous charitable efforts since turning pro. One, in particular, stands out. Manning began a relationship with St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis after he was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts. In 2007, that children’s hospital was officially renamed Peyton Manning’s Children’s Hospital at St. Vincent. The hospital has that name to this day, and Manning and his family have remained involved with it even though Manning signed with the Denver Broncos late in his NFL career. Manning’s involvement with the hospital behind the scenes has largely remained private, and the full amount of money he has donated to the hospital has never been disclosed.
2. He’s Not Squeaky Clean
It is somewhat unbelievable that this story has been swept under the rug as if it never happened. What exactly occurred between Manning and former University of Tennessee trainer Jamie Naughright will probably never be known by those of us who weren’t there. What is public knowledge, however, is that Naughright did settle with the university. Manning was later sued by Naughright due to comments he made in his book about the woman, and a settlement was again reached. That process played itself out again after Manning violated a gag order, and that matter was settled in January 2005. Despite all of that, Manning’s image is, today, as clean as ever.
1. He’s Friends With Brady
Peyton Manning and Tom Brady have been involved in one of the greatest on-the-field rivalries in the history of the NFL. One might think that this would lead to some bitterness between the two. It is actually the opposite. Brady and Manning are, as has been explained by New York Daily News columnist Gary Myers, close friends and have been for many years. They have called each other during seasons. The two enjoy playing golf together when they are not dealing with a grueling NFL campaign. It would be oddly fitting if the two introduced each other during their Hall of Fame ceremonies. Those could be two incredible speeches.