There is no doubt that Peyton Manning is having a great season. In fact, he probably just had the greatest season for a quarterback in NFL history. Not only did Peyton Manning break Tom Brady's single season touchdown record in Week 16 against the Houston Texans, but he added four more touchdown passes in Week 17 and broke Drew Brees' two-year old single season passing record of 5,476 passing yards against the Oakland Raiders.
So Manning's final numbers for 2013? 5,477 passing yards, 55 touchdown passes, 10 interceptions, 450 completions, 68.3 completion percentage, 82.9 QBR and 115.1 passer rating. All of this coming at the age of 37 and two years removed from undergoing four neck surgeries putting his already stellar career in question. He is the clear favorite to win the MVP this year and that is much deserved.
Is Manning a Hall-of-Famer? Absolutely! Is he among the greatest quarterbacks of all time? Yes. But can anyone unequivocally call Manning the greatest quarterback of all-time? Absolutely not!
Manning's numbers are great. He is second all-time in passing yards with 64,964, which is less than 7,000 yards fewer than Brett Favre for most passing yards all time. He is second in all-time passing touchdowns with 491 touchdowns, just 17 touchdowns shy of tying Brett Favre's all-time record of 508 career passing touchdowns. Manning should easily break that record next year.
Despite all the great individual numbers and statistics that he has accumulated over his 16-year career, it still doesn't justify the national media love fest or being called the greatest quarterback of all-time.
Sports Illustrated just named Manning their Sportsman of the Year in 2013. It is a relatively meaningless award, but it just goes to show the love affair that the mainstream media has with Manning.
Let me explain. Last season, Manning won the NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award after leading the Broncos to a first-round bye and home field advantage just a year removed from undergoing four neck surgeries and missing all of the 2011 season.
What did Peyton Manning not do that season? He failed to win the Broncos' first playoff game in the Divisional Round, losing 38-35 in double overtime to eventual Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens. That loss marked the eighth time in his career that Manning has been one and done in the playoffs.
Despite all the great regular season numbers that Manning has, it's his performance in the playoffs that should prevent him from being titled the greatest quarterback ever. Manning is 10-11 in his career in the playoffs and has a touchdown-to-interception ratio of just over 3:2 throwing for 34 touchdowns and 22 interceptions. He has had a passer rating under 80 seven times with his lowest passer rating coming in at 31.2 against the Jets in 2002.
He is also just 4-6 in playoff games played outdoors and 1-2 in the playoffs against his rival Tom Brady. Brady, on the other hand, is 18-7 in the playoffs with three Super Bowl victories and two Super Bowl MVP's under his belt, as opposed to Manning's one. Manning is also 4-10 against Brady in his career, including the playoffs.
Take it a step further and add Joe Montana into the mix. Montana, who is widely considered to be the greatest quarterback of all time, is a perfect 4-0 in the Super Bowl. His career playoff record is 16-7 with a passer rating of 95.6, compared to Brady and Manning's similar career playoff passer ratings of 87.2 and 88.6, respectively.
You also have to take into consideration the different eras that Manning, Brady, and Montana played in. Both Manning and Brady play in a much more pass-happy and offense-oriented era than Montana did in the 80's and early 90's. So passing yards, touchdown records, and statistics in general are not as essential when comparing Manning and Brady to Montana.
In fact, that makes Dan Marino's then record of 48 touchdown passes and 5,084 passing yards in 1984 even more amazing. But despite that, what has kept Marino out of the "greatest of all time" discussion is the fact that he hasn't won the big one.
Manning has a Super Bowl victory under his belt. But until he has won multiple Super Bowls and significantly improves his playoff record and playoff statistics, he cannot be considered the best quarterback of all time.