In my mind, there’s never been a real debate over which of Archie Manning’s sons is the better NFL quarterback.
It’s Peyton Manning.
Not Eli Manning. Peyton.
“But Eli has two Super Bowl rings and Peyton has only one.”
Yeah, so does Jim Plunkett. Nothing against the former Raiders quarterback, but he pales in comparison to the Broncos quarterback.
As ridiculous as the notion is, Peyton and his Denver teammates must win Super Bowl XLVIII here in 12 days to put the Peyton-Eli comparisons to bed. Peyton is in the big game for the third time in his career, having won Super Bowl XLI and lost XLIV while with the Colts. If he drops to 1-2, detractors will continue to insist Eli is the better big-game QB and ignore all other measures.
And make no mistake, Peyton bests Eli in any other relevant way. Regular-season winning percentage: .696 to .563. Playoff wins: 11 to 8. Completion percentage: 65.5% to 58.5%. Passer rating: 97.2 to 81.2. Touchdown percentage: 5.8% to 4.6%. Interception percentage: 2.6% to 3.4%. You get the idea.
That doesn’t even factor in Peyton’s place on the all-time lists for completions (second), yards (second), touchdowns (second), passer rating (second) and completion percentage (fourth), nor his numerous accolades — five Pro Football Writers Association MVPs, seven first-team All-Pro selections, 13 Pro Bowl selections.
Peyton’s greatest work came this season, when he set single-season marks for passing yards (5,477) and touchdowns (55) en route to the Super Bowl. Incredibly, the numbers were posted just two years after many doubted he would ever play football again, stemming from multiple surgeries culminating in a spinal fusion operation.
Reports last week indicated Peyton will have his neck examined in March, which could determine whether he can continue his playing career next season as a 38-year-old. It’s not far-fetched to think his last game could be at MetLife Stadium next Sunday.
If that’s the case, imagine if Peyton can leave the game on a high note, in the same way as Broncos executive John Elway — who quarterbacked Denver to back-to-back Super Bowl wins in the late ’90s — to cap the greatest season by a passer in NFL history.
Let’s see Eli top that.
Scott Fontana, amNY’s sports editor, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.