NEW YORK » Peyton Manning is the most accomplished quarterback in NFL history.
He has won an unprecedented five MVP awards, adding the fifth to his mantel Saturday night, along with the Offensive Player of the Year Award from the Associated Press. He set records for passing yards (5,477) and touchdowns (55) this year, at age 37, in what was the greatest single season in NFL history. And today, when his Denver Broncos play the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII, he’ll become the third quarterback ever to start the game for two different teams.
But for all his achievements, Manning has watched one part of his Hall of Fame-bound career come into question this week — his legacy.
With an ordinary 11-11 career postseason record and "just" one Super Bowl title to his name, critics argue that Manning needs another title to distinguish himself as one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time.
Manning did his best to downplay the legacy talk this week, but the topic was unavoidable in almost every media scrum he was a part of.
1:30 p.m. today, KHON (Ch. 3)
"I’ve been asked about my legacy since I was about 25 years old, which I’m not sure you can have a legacy when you’re 25 years old, or even 37," Manning said. "I thought you had to be like 70 to have a legacy. So I’m not 100 percent sure what the word even means. I’m still in the middle of my career. Let me rephrase that, I’m down the homestretch of my career, but I’m still in it. It’s not over yet and so it’s still playing out."
If the Broncos win today, Manning will join an exclusive group of signal-callers with multiple championships and become the only quarterback to win titles as the starter for two teams.
He still has a ways to go to catch Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana (four Super Bowl wins each) atop that list, but Broncos executive vice president John Elway, a two-time Super Bowl winner, said talk of Manning needing a win today to cement his legacy is silly.
"I mean, what else are you going to talk about Peyton Manning that’s negative other than, ‘OK, we’ve got to go to his legacy,’ " Elway said. "So I don’t think this game, one way or the other, affects his legacy the way that he has played. He’s going to be one of the all-time greats no matter what."