Despite what fans, coaches, and even opposing players have to say about it, Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning is not interested in discussing where he stands in National Football League history. Manning, largely considered one of the game’s greats, recently had this to say: “I’ve been being asked about my legacy since I was about 25 years old. I’m not sure you can have a legacy when you’re 25 years old — even 37,” Manning said. “I’d have to be, like, 70 to have a legacy. I’m not even 100 percent sure what the word even means.”
Regardless of this pronouncement, Manning’s numbers ensure he will leave some sort of legacy, though time will tell how his story will continue to unfold. Here are some ways in which Super Bowl XLVIII is tied to the star’s legacy.
Though this season’s awards will be handed out the Saturday night before the big game, the odds are heavily in Manning’s favor to win a fifth league MVP award. Why? It’s simple, really: Manning’s proponents say he’s coming off the greatest season in history at the position, and the numbers seem to match that sentiment. In total, Manning threw a record 55 touchdown passes and lead his offense to a record 606 points.
Because Manning is the clear favorite, there are whispers of him winning the MVP award by unanimous vote. This would make him the second player in NFL history to achieve such a feat — only Tom Brady before him has done this, in 2010.
John Elway, a famous former NFL quarterback in his own right and current executive vice president of football operations for the Denver Broncos, was largely responsible for signing Manning from the Indianapolis Colts in 2012. When asked by the NFL Network how Manning could become the greatest quarterback in the history of the league, Elway said that Manning had to win two more Super Bowls in addition to the one he won with the Colts in 2007.
Even more significantly, perhaps, is that with a win, Manning would be the first quarterback to win a Super Bowl with two teams. A win would also help silence critics who equate legacy with number of titles won: Can a player be the greatest of all time if he’s only won one Lombardi trophy, for example?
Second only to Elway, Manning — at 37 years and 10-plus months — will be the oldest starting quarterback in Super Bowl history. Despite his age, Manning has made it clear that he’ll stick around for next season and even went so far as to say he was in the “middle” of his career before recanting. “Let me rephrase that,” he said. “I’m down the home stretch of my career, but I’m still in it. It’s not over yet. And so it’s still playing out. This has been the second chapter of my career.”