In 1998, the Indianapolis Colts used thee first overall pick in the NFL Draft to select quarterback Peyton Manning. His position coach for those crucial first three seasons in Indy was a man named Bruce Arians.
Now, nearly two decades later, the careers of Manning and Arians have really taken off. Manning has gone on to a Hall of Fame career, setting passing records and winning five NFL MVP awards. Arians has been the league's Coach of the Year winner in two of the past four seasons, and before that he won two Super Bowls as an assistant with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Manning has developed a reputation as one of the very best quarterbacks to ever play the game, while Arians has developed a reputation of developing quarterbacks.
Manning is possibly at the end of his stellar career, however, as he's contemplating retirement this offseason following the Broncos' Super Bowl win. Denver head coach Gary Kubiak said today at the NFL Scouting Combine that there's no hurry for Manning to make a decision, though there's likely only a few weeks left for him to actually do so. Arians, the current head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, also spoke at the Combine on Wednesday and shared some thoughts on his former pupil.
"This word GOAT [greatest of all time] got popular real soon. To me, he is," Arians said of Manning. "Having worked with him early in the years that he was struggling was fun. To watch him persevere through those early years, the 3-13, 15 interceptions in the first eight games or whatever, then just watch him grow and take off and become the player
he's become, I think he's arguably the best that's ever played."
Of course, Arians is biased, having worked with Manning for three years in Indianapolis, but at the same time his assessment of quarterbacks is valued and worth noting. There's certainly a strong case to be made for Manning as the greatest of all time, as he holds the NFL records for passing yards and passing touchdowns while he is the league's only five-time MVP - holding two more such distinctions than anyone else. And, for those who value Super Bowl rings to measure players, Manning's also got two of those. He has without a doubt changed the way the quarterback position is played, and the current NFL that we know today is a testament to that. Bruce Arians had a hand in that, though he doesn't take the credit for it.
"I'm just a quarterback coach," Arians told ESPN a few weeks ago. "[Manning's] become one of the greatest ever. I can't take any credit for him. Mom and Dad and God, they made him. Same with Ben [Roethlisberger] and Andrew [Luck]. But it's nice to know you had a touch in their mechanics, things that they remember. That part of it makes it special."
Sure he's biased, but if you ask Bruce Arians, Peyton Manning is the best to ever play the game.