Winning the Super Bowl shouldn’t be the end-all-be-all of any quarterback discussion, but you can’t just ignore that this is only Manning’s third trip and he’s won the big game just once. Montana, Brady and Elway have a combined 14 trips to the Super Bowl with nine victories. Some of this is luck and some of it has nothing to do with the quarterback’s production, but it’s inarguable that it is all part of the player’s resume if you are having a discussion like this.
There are several problems with having any discussion of a player’s legacy while he is still active, but my biggest with this one is that Manning’s greatest contemporary rival, Tom Brady, has arguably had the better career. Brady has a better touchdown-interception ratio, postseason record and more Super Bowl rings (3-1). Where a lot of the hyperbole gets started is the gawdy stats Peyton puts up during the regular season rival Brady, Brees or even Aaron Rodgers. Manning has 491 career touchdown passes and will likely own every quarterback record when he decides to retire. For example, if you just look at the stats, Manning was far better in the 2013 regular season than Brady, but of course perception is not always reality.
Manning led the No. 1 offense while handing the ball off to Knowshon Moreno and throwing 55 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions and nearly 5,500 yards to a receiving group that featured Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Wes Welker and Julius Thomas. Brady had 25 touchdowns, 11 interceptions and another 4,000-yard season, but he had All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski for just seven games and his most reliable receiver was Julian Edelman, who wouldn’t even get on the field for Denver.
The facts are that for the entirety of their careers, Manning has had far more offensive firepower. Brady had only two full season of Randy Moss and in one of those seasons he led the Patriots to a 16-0 regular season. Brady has done far more with less offensive talent.