I'm very happy Peyton Manning left on his own terms. He may well be the greatest quarterback of my NFL watching fandom. So from the late '70s until now. I'm not saying he is but he is definitely in the discussion and for my money he is top 3. We have been in an era of great quarterbacks for some time now. Peyton, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Aaron Rogers, Big Ben, and maybe even Phillip Rivers. And no matter how good those others are Peyton will always stand out among to me. Peyton is the real deal. His stats stand on his own. Just look them up. They are crazy numbers. Brady may best some of them if he can continue to stay healthy as long as he wants but that doesn't diminish what Manning has done. He is a fricking stud.
Peyton also has something that many others do not. He has a personality. He can be funny, poke fun at himself and do great commercials. Here is one of the great skits he did on Saturday Night Live. While his life seemed to revolve around football he got it. He got why people made fun of him and went with it. He was good at addressing the media and being real. He didn't have to be something he wasn't. He was just Peyton.
So I won't go on quoting a ton a stats, and there are a ton of them, but I will just say all accolades he receives are deserved. He was never bigger than the game though he was definitely larger than life. And it is great to see him go off into the sunset a winner and not pulling a Johnny Unitas. Very few quarterbacks have ever been able to accomplish that feat. It isn't key to his "legacy" though. I tired of that talk pretty quick. His legacy was set. His achievements outweighed any notion that winning "only one Super Bowl" could be held against him. Even if he had lost, he would have gone to four Super Bowls and won one. Four! Very elite company now matter how you twist it. I relish how I've gotten to enjoy one of the great quarterbacks of all-time. And this era is different than when Joe Montana played. Now we get to know players like never before - good, bad or indifferent. I wish that everyone has enjoyed Peyton for what he is. One of the greatest and I for one have enjoyed every moment.