Cleat Geeks

Thank You, Sheriff

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“I revere football, I love the game”

After watching Peyton Manning’s retirement press conference, the idea for this article changed. This will be a thank you from me to one of the greatest athletes of all time. There are an endless amount of things I can say about him, but I will pick 18 specific topics for why ‘ol #18 is one of the greatest ever.

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1. He Revolutionized The Game

He has changed the way the game is played in many ways. One of the biggest ways has been the evolution of the hurry-up offense. What many did not realize was hurry-up did not have to mean up-tempo. He often would make his offense hurry to the line to prevent substitutions, then slow down and read the defense.

 

2. Pre-Snap Offense

Peyton Manning is probably most know for his pre-snap reads. He would scan the defense, tell the line where the blitz was coming from, then audible to the play that was going to work. He was a defensive coordinator’s nightmare.

 

3. He’s A Student Of The Game

Many young players are able to find some short-term success in the league based on their athletic ability, but they struggle in the big moments because they are not prepared. Peyton very well could have the highest football IQ of all time. He knows this game inside-and-out, and that is because he is in the film room for hours every single day during the season. He summed this up well during his retirement press conference, “There were other players that were more talented, but there was nobody that could out-prepare me.”

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4. Four Neck Surgeries

Peyton had a complete career that would have led him to the Hall of Fame. He could have easily retired, and nobody would have blamed him. He instead went on to have four neck surgeries, switch teams, and still perform better than everyone else. Oh, and he did all of this with no feeling in his fingertips.

 

5. Change of Scenery

He was able to go from Indianapolis to Denver, and still be great. In fact, he is the only starting quarterback ever to win a Super Bowl with two different teams.

 

6. Coaching Changes

This adds on to the last point I was making. Not only did he win two Super Bowls with two different teams, but also he appeared in four Super Bowls with four different coaches! There were two different coaches from both of his teams: Tony Dungy, Jim Caldwell, John Fox, and Gary Kubiak.

 

7. He Gave

Although much of Peyton’s contribution flies under the radar (he prefers it that way), he has established the PeyBack Foundation, which supports underprivileged and at-risk youths. He is also very involved in support of local children’s hospitals.

 

8. He’s Funny

Back when he was in Indianapolis, he would go on the Bob and Tom radio show all the time and shared his comedic side. He has also made a couple appearances on Saturday Night Live, including the time where he teamed up with United Way to become a role model for a bunch of kids. If you haven’t seen this sketch, click here to watch it. I have seen it more than I’m proud to admit, and it still makes me laugh every time.

 

9. Made Coach’s Life Easy

When you have a guy like Peyton leading your team, it makes the coach’s life much easier. Tony Dungy has been the coach that has spoken to this the most. They don’t have to worry about him. Peyton is going to be 100% committed, 100% prepared, and he’s going to demand that of his teammates as well.

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10. Players Want To Play With Him

If you are a free agent who is looking to win, there really was not a better place to play. Coaches and GMs recruited players by simply pointing out that they would be competing for a Super Bowl every season. The players would be on a competitive team, and Peyton would be the best leader they could have. Everyone likes him, and instead of telling you what to do, he led by example.

 

11. Players Want To Play For Him

Not only do guys want to play with him, but they want to do their best for him. When younger guys see someone like Peyton putting everything he has into this game, they want to do what they can to help him succeed. This was especially true this final season. Peyton was still preparing as hard as he ever had (probably harder), but his physical play just wasn’t as good. Players like Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders were going to do everything they could to help Peyton leave the game on top, and they did.

 

12. He’s Classy

The Colts and Broncos were proud to have Peyton as the face of their franchise. He was classy, selfless, and humble. Whether it was on the field or talking to reporters after a loss, he always handled things the right way.

 

13. OMAHA!

I am never going to forget Peyton Manning’s voice screaming “Omaha” on Sundays. Football just won’t seem right without it.

 

14. He’s Respectful

He is extremely respectful towards the greats that came before him. This makes sense since those players were the reason why the league was the way it was when Peyton was drafted in 1998. He showed his respect specifically towards Johnny Unitas during his press conference today. Peyton became choked up when he was saying how he hoped Unitas was “a little proud of me.”

 

15. Manning-Brady Rivalry

Peyton and Tom Brady played each other 17 times despite not being in the same division. After noting the popularity of this match-up, the NFL was sure to have these two play each other every season. Brady owned the regular season with a record of 9-3, but Manning got the best of him in the playoffs with a 3-2 record. I must also point out that eight of the regular season games between these two were in New England, so home field advantage was rarely on Manning’s side. The intensity was high on the field, but there is nothing but respect between these two quarterbacks.

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16. All-Time Records

Peyton is the most decorated quarterback in NFL history. Like John Elway said, he has done it all. He owns the record in all-time touchdowns (539), all-time yards (71,954), single-season touchdowns (55), single-season yards (5,477), playoff appearances (15), game-winning drives (54), career wins (200),  and 4000-yard passing seasons (14). Peyton also shares the record for most regular season quarterback wins with Brett Favre (186).

 

17. MVPs

Not only does Peyton have the most regular season MVP awards (5) he also won a Super Bowl MVP. This means he also has the most combined MVPs ever with six. After he won the regular season MVP with Denver, Peyton also became the first player to ever win the award with two different teams. I didn’t research it, but I am also pretty sure he is the first person to win an MVP after four neck surgeries. In fact, I know he is.

 

18. He’s Inspirational

Peyton Manning has inspired millions of people around the world for a number of different reasons. Can you imagine how many people in Indianapolis have named their child Peyton in the past 18 years? There is a lot of negative publicity in the media about football, but because of people like Manning, the good will always out-weigh the bad. People like Peyton who are great on the field, classy in press conferences, and aren’t afraid to have fun are the reason why the sport of football continues to grow in popularity.

 

Peyton Manning, along with Brett Favre and Reggie White, were the reasons why I began to love football. Watching him play and methodically picking apart the defenses sparked my interest in the sport. He showed me that the game is not just played with your body, it is also played with your mind. If I actually go through all the things in my life that have happened to me because of football, I would have a lot to thank Peyton for. I played for a number of years, I am a football writer for Cleat Geeks, I study sports in school, and I am a semi-pro coach. None of that would be possible without someone like him sparking my interest and helping me learn to love the sport. I live for Sundays. Football means so much to me, but Sundays are going to be much different now. The league will be missing one of the greatest players on the field next season, but that doesn’t mean he is gone. His impact on the game will last forever, and now we will have to cherish the memories.

Thank you, Sheriff. For everything.

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“I have fought the good fight. I finished my football race and after 18 years it’s time. God bless all of you and God bless football.”

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