When Peyton Manning broke the NFL’s all-time passing touchdown record last week with the 509th of his illustrious career, many wondered if the former Colt and current Bronco is now officially the greatest quarterback in the NFL’s history.
He very well could be, but, in my opinion, breaking that record does not change a single thing.
The man whose record Manning just topped? Brett Favre.
Favre — even while he held the record — was rarely in the conversation surrounding who the best quarterback ever is.
And the man Favre grabbed the record from back in 2007? Dan Marino. Marino, again, a great quarterback, but not easily classified as the greatest.
The reason for those two not being the top quarterbacks of all time, even while each holding the career passing touchdowns and yardage records, is simple — championships.
And it is the same reason why I believe Manning — for now, at least — stacks up a rung short of the top.
Between Manning, Favre and Marino — the three greatest quarterbacks ever if you go by their individual passing yards and touchdowns — there are only two championship rings. Favre won one in a 20-year career, Manning has won one in a 17-year career and Marino never won a Super Bowl in 17 seasons.
Manning is 11-12 in the playoffs. He has won 70 percent of his regular season games, but holds a losing record when it really counts.
That is something that cannot be overlooked.
Now, of course, wins and losses are team accomplishments and it is not fair to put it all on the quarterback. But Manning’s game has taken a step down in the postseason, beyond losing more games.
In his career in the regular season, Manning has thrown 0.43 interceptions for every touchdown pass. Come playoff time, that number soars up to 0.65.
In Super Bowls, Manning has thrown more picks than touchdowns. He averages more than two passing touchdowns per game in his career in the regular season, but has never thrown more than one in each of his three Super Bowl appearances.
Heck, even in 2006 — the year Manning won his only ring — he threw seven interceptions compared to three touchdowns in the playoffs. That’s not simply just a step down for a great, that’s downright lousy.
Karl Malone might have more points than Michael Jordan, but no one will ever mistake the Mailman for being in the discussion for the greatest basketball player ever.
That is for the most part because Malone never won a championship, while Jordan elevated his already-phenomenal regular season play in the playoffs. By the end of Jordan’s career, he was six-for-six in the NBA Finals.
Similarly, Joe Montana, a great regular season quarterback in his own right, stepped it up to another level when it really mattered. In four Super Bowl appearances, Montana never lost — and never threw an interception.
Regular season statistics are great, but, at the end of the day, teams are after the pursuit of the gold. If Manning can add another championship before his career ends — which is rapidly approaching — the book can certainly be reopened.
But for now, Manning’s accolades are not enough to lift him into the greatest ever until he can prove to have something different than the regular season wonders before him.