I understand that hero worship of professional athletes to some people isn’t valid, but I don’t care. On March 24, 1976 a football hero was born. On this day 43 years ago Peyton Williams Manning began his football career. Over his time on the gridiron, he would go on to break multiple records and play the game of football in a way no one else has since.
It didn’t hurt that Peyton Manning was born to NFL royalty. The always underrated Archie Manning nurtured all of his sons to be the best that they could be playing football. Later Peyton would become the savior of the Indianapolis Colts in 1998 – a mediocre franchise heading nowhere. In short order, they would become the best, and in 2007, NFL champions.
In a town that mostly revolved around basketball, Manning revolutionized football and turned Indianapolis into a football town. Colts fans can remember Manning connecting downfield with Marvin Harrison or Reggie Wayne, with flawless accuracy. In fact, he executed near perfectly throughout his career and gave Colts fans exactly what they needed.
After 18 seasons in the NFL, Manning left behind a legacy that Colts fans will revere forever. 71,940 passing yards, 539 touchdowns five MVP awards and two Super Bowls are just some of Manning’s many accolades. But putting aside records, what made Manning the quarterback of the ages was his sheer intelligence, professionalism and tireless dedication. There was simply no one like him.
To honor who I think is the greatest quarterback of all time, I reached out to the Twittershpere to inquire as to what Manning meant to them. As I expected, he has changed the lives of many. Here are some of the best responses.
When I hear Chicago, I think of the greats like Michael Jordan and Walter Peyton. When I hear Indianapolis, I hear Peyton Manning. He has been outstanding for Indy both on and off the field!— Julie Voigt (@JulieNoted_PFG) March 23, 2019
PM proved brains over brawn in what is otherwise a violent sport and made Indianapolis his second home. The statue is the least we can do. There’s a reason they call Lucas Oil Stadium “the house that Peyton built”.— Jared, like the jeweler. Not the Subway guy. (@LikelyAlien) March 23, 2019
I’ve been a Colts fan since they were in Baltimore. The few playoff games in the 90’s never felt like they really had a chance. When Manning arrived, it felt like my world had changed. Never thought I’d see the Colts win a SuperBowl. Grateful for all he did as a Colt!— Joe Schmitter (@CoMoJoe) March 23, 2019
He saved the team for all time in this city. We have a different skyline because of him. He revolutionized the way NFL teams play the game and we got to watch it all. His impact cannot be overstated.— Sam smith (@Samsmit15252763) March 24, 2019
Peyton is, IMO, the GOAT. He changed the game, but seeing and hearing about all of the little things he did for those less fortunate really makes him stand out to me. He made everyone around him better, on and off the field.— Drew Story (@drewmike6) March 24, 2019
Peyton Manning single-handedly changed Indiana from a basketball-only state to one that has embraced football at all levels, and while he was at it, he kept the Colts in Indy! For that, I'm thankful!— Greg Rader (@stbabu) March 24, 2019
He is the reason I fell in love with the game of football.— Becca (@recpage) March 23, 2019
Peyton taught me that greatness coupled with humility and hard work defines greatness itself.We will never see greatness like this for quite some time.— Joseph L. Jefferson (@joselouis4077) March 24, 2019
EVERYTHING! Without Peyton, I probably wouldn’t even be a football fan. His rookie year was the year I started watching, and the rest is history. I couldn’t bleed any bluer!— Tom Gambrel (@tom_bomb21) March 24, 2019
In his retirement speech Manning said, “When someone thoroughly exhausts an experience they can’t help but revere it. I revere football. I love the game.”
What Manning brought to Indianapolis, and to Colts fans, will never be forgotten. We revere you, Peyton. Thank you.