While watching the Colts win a great game today, I pulled up an additional gamecast on my computer. I already had the Colts gamecast, twitter, a stats page, and my email up - that's what I usually do every Sunday. Today, I added another gamecast. It was the Broncos vs. Texans game. I always monitor other games around the league, but today I was paying extra close attention to that one particular game. Why? My favorite player ever was playing with a pretty significant milestone possible.
For pretty much the whole season since Peyton Manning's 7 touchdown opener, I have put out a simple tweet for every one of his touchdown throws - just the number and then the hashtag "PFM." That's it. I did the same thing today, and that was all I tweeted about that game. Read through my twitter page and it's clear I was more than covering the Colts game. But I still had fans telling me that they didn't care because the Colts were on, or that I should focus more on the Colts. And I just couldn't help but feel sorry for those people.
Why? Because they can't enjoy greatness, especially from a person that was the most important player in the history of the Colts franchise. They've become so (wrongly) determined that rooting for the Colts means rooting against Peyton that they can't enjoy it when the greatest player of our (and quite possibly any) generation who spent 14 years in Indianapolis sets the single-season touchdown record - again.
Several will ask why this appears on a Colts site. My answer? If the Colts can put Eric Dickerson and Marshall Faulk into their Ring of Honor (which they did last week), then I can at least write this article on a site that covers all things Colts football.
But seriously, those fans that can't understand or appreciate what Peyton Manning is doing and why we're paying attention are spoiled and I honestly feel bad for them. This is something we'll never see again. And quite honestly, we might never see this level of play again - for an entire season, maybe, and for an entire career, probably.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Your grandkid's grandkid's grandkid will tell his grandkid stories about the legend of Peyton Manning.</p>— ESPN (@espn) <a href="https://twitter.com/espn/statuses/414868571475697664">December 22, 2013</a></blockquote>
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If you're a fan of football at all, you can't help but appreciate what Manning is doing. And if you have been a Colts fan for longer than 3-4 years, then it means a lot more.
51 touchdowns in 15 games. Nobody had done it in 16 games until Tom Brady did so in the fourth quarter of the final game in 2007. But Peyton Manning? It took him until the fourth quarter of the 15th game. That's no different than the first time he broke the touchdown record - in 2004 with 49, breaking it in the fourth quarter of the 15th game. The Colts rested him the following week.
In his brilliant career, Manning has topped 4,000 passing yards in 13 of his 15 seasons actually playing. For the first time in his career, he went over 5,000 yards on a season today, bringing his season total to 5,211 yards. If he throws for 266 yards next week, he sets the all-time single-season passing yards record too. Manning is now one of only six quarterbacks to ever top 5,000 passing yards and his is the seventh 5,000 yard passing season in NFL history.
But Manning's season goes beyond that, and on Sunday he threw 4 more touchdown passes to bring his season total to 51, an NFL record. He became only the second player of all time to throw 50 touchdowns in a season, and he now holds two of the top three spots on the single-season passing touchdowns list.
Colts fans remember the first very well. It was 2004, with Manning coming off of his first NFL MVP award. Unlike in 2013, he didn't get off to a white hot start by throwing 7 touchdown passes in the first game. No, in 2004, Manning did it with a mid-season surge that saw him throw 4+ touchdowns in five straight games, and 3+ touchdowns in eight straight. He threw a touchdown in every single game but the last one, where he threw just two passes before being pulled and rested for the playoffs. It was December 26, 2004, at the RCA Dome, however, when the record fell. It had been 20 years since the record had been broken before, and some thought it would never be broken again. But Peyton Manning was already beginning to change the NFL, as more teams were beginning to build around a passing attack like Peyton's Colts ran. Manning tied Dan Marino by throwing his 48th touchdown on a shovel pass to James Mungro, and then late in a game the Colts were trailing the Chargers (and quarterback Drew Brees), Manning drove the Colts down the field and hit Brandon Stokely on a 21-yard post in the end zone, setting the record with his 49th touchdown pass. The crowd went nuts. Peyton calmly gathered his team together, still trailing by two late in the game, and handed the ball of on a draw to Edgerrin James. That was a move nobody saw coming - the man who just set the single-season passing TD record was handing it off in a huge situation. It was so brilliant. It was so beautiful. It was so Peyton Manning. The Colts tied the game up at 31 and went on to win in overtime. Many considered it the greatest season a quarterback ever had, and even after Brady one-upped Peyton with 50 touchdowns in 2007, many still considered Peyton's 2004 season better.
Until 2013, that is. There's a new best season ever by a quarterback - but it's still held by Peyton Manning. We've known for most of his career that no one has ever played quarterback like this guy, and we'll never see a guy play it this way again. In 2013, Manning has been as good as ever. He has completed 425 of 631 passes (67.35%) for 5,211 yards, 51 touchdowns and 10 picks. He's added an additional score on the ground, too. His dominance has been remarkable. He threw 20 touchdown passes before throwing a single interception. He has posted a passer rating above 90 in all but one game this year - and that was the game against the Patriots, where he still had a passer rating of 70.4. It's hard to describe just how dominant Peyton Manning has been.
Some fans, like myself, have been able to enjoy it. I really can't explain how happy I am for Peyton. He's one of the classiest guys around, and after everything he has been through in the past few years - coming back from a very serious neck injury that almost ended his career and did indeed end his career with the Colts - I can't put into words how happy I am to see him set this record. It's not easy watching him in a Broncos jersey. I've covered that extensively here and here. But watching Peyton be Peyton - that's easy. I've been doing it for so long.
But those Colts fans that can't enjoy this because they think it's somehow betraying the current Colts? I'm sorry for you. And those Colts fans upset we're talking about it? Well, I don't apologize to you. I was thinking today about how many former people get a lot of media attention. For example, when the president of the United States leaves office, we keep up with him. Why? Because of what he did during his time in office. Because of the position he held. And most often, because of how much we like the particular person.
A president oversees the entire country and is in office for at most eight years. How about someone coming to a city and staying there for 14 years, changing it in incredible ways and connecting with it in ways athletes rarely connect to a city. Read the article on Peyton Manning being named Sports Illustrated's Man of the Year. You won't regret it.
I've written about it before so I won't again here, but Peyton Manning is special. He is to Colts fans, and many - like myself - consider him their favorite player ever. Speaking for myself, I can tell you that will never change.
So many Colts fans missed his greatness while he was in Indy because they were spoiled and always wanted more championships. So many Colts fans miss his greatness now because they are still spoiled and don't want to acknowledge someone not on their favorite team anymore.
Even if you can't appreciate it from a man that so many of us felt so close to for so long, you have to appreciate the football side of it. This is greatness we won't ever see again. No matter how many people put up "star wars stats," there will never be another Peyton Manning. He's 37 years old. No matter what it may seem like right now and no matter how much it may seem like 2004, time doesn't stand still. He won't be playing for much longer.
After the game, Manning was interviewed by the CBS guys. He said that, "it's a temporary record. Brady will probably break it next year." He later reiterated in his post game press conference that, "I'm sure it's just a temporary record, but I will enjoy it."
It may be a temporary record. Someone will probably break it, and it will probably be sooner rather than later. But something that isn't temporary? The greatness of Peyton Manning. That will be remembered forever. Colts fans will remember it even more because they'll have an incredibly personal connection to it. Some of us, when your grandkids are asking you if you remember Peyton breaking the touchdown record again, will say absolutely and that we watched on in pride for a guy that in some strange way seems kind of like family. Some, however, will look back and say "yeah, but I missed it because I spent my time posting about why it shouldn't be talked about on a Colts blog."
I know which one I'll be. And I'll remember this record for a long time, and the main reason isn't because of the great football accomplishment - which it most certainly is. The main reason is because I'll remember Peyton Manning even more for an even longer time. And no matter what he does, I'll be proud of his accomplishments.
DISCLAIMER: Because I know someone will bring it up, I am a Colts fan first. By far. I rooted against Peyton when he played the Colts just like I have rooted on every single opposing quarterback for my entire life. I'm the biggest Andrew Luck supporter you will find. I'm a Colts fan first, and I have no second favorite team. That is very important to understand when reading this article.