The League

Dave Goldberg
Sports Reporter

Dave Goldberg

Covered the NFL for the AP for 25 years and now is a senior NFL writer for

Legacy intact?


Peyton Manning's "legacy'' is intact.

Actually, I shouldn't even say that because I hate the word "legacy'' in the context of sports. I especially hate it when we're talking about an athlete who has won the Most Valuable Player trophy in his league more times than anyone in history, an athlete who may well retire with every passing record in the game. Except the record for interceptions which Brett Favre, whose record in Super Bowls is exactly the same as Manning's: 1-1, holds.

I'm writing this in the press box at the Super Bowl, where a writer who's actually been around longer than I am was discussing this very subject. "He's 9-9 in the playoffs,'' this gentleman remarked. To which I replied: "So what?''

Here's why.

Manning has always had receivers who are good to great. Why? In large part because he's forced them to be. He's dragged them to offseason workouts and made them work with him as one entity. Most of the time that works but sometimes those receivers are fallible -- as Reggie Wayne was Sunday when he ran a soft route on a ball that Tracy Porter intercepted and returned for a touchdown that clinched the Super Bowl for the Saints; and as Pierre Garcon was when he dropped a pass with the Colts holding a 10-0 lead. Without that drop, not at all Payton's fault, maybe it becomes 17-0, a much harder hole for New Orleans to climb out of.

Then there's the salary cap.

For years, the salaries commanded by Manning, Dwight Freeney, Wayne, Dallas Clark and Marvin Harrison has forced the Colts to rely on great drafts to fill holes left by good players who left for more money. It's why Indy is always replacing players, especially on defense, and always breaking in rookies or other younger players. It sometimes means that Manning has to lead the Colts to touchdowns on every possession. "It was upsetting to have to settle for a field goal on the first drive,'' he said after the Super Bowl. That's the nut. Sometimes, especially when Drew Brees is his opposite number, he always needs seven points not three.

Now I'm stopping. I'm making a case I don't have to make. Manning's "legacy'' is secure. And let's stop talking about it.

By Dave Goldberg  |  February 8, 2010; 6:22 AM ET  | Category:  Indianapolis Colts , Peyton Manning , Super Bowl Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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What a stupid concept for a story. Shouldn't you be shoveling snow or something?

Posted by: st50taw | February 8, 2010 10:58 AM

Mr. Goldberg, you wrote "Manning has always had receivers who are good to great. Why? In large part because he's forced them to be."

In that case, Tom Brady is miles ahead of Manning. Apart from Moss and Welker, what good-to-great receivers have worked with Brady? Most succeeded because the NE coaches designed plays to work within the abilities and limits of those receivers. Most of the receivers who left the Pats haven't succeeded at all with new teams.

Stop with the "if Garcon hadn't dropped the ball, if Wayne hadn't run a soft route." That's football. You point out those muffs to take the heat off of Peyton, but the Colts didn't do much offensively after the first quarter. Peyton has to take at least some of the blame for that.

Salary cap? What, the other teams didn't have to deal with this?

Look, Peyton is clearly one of the very best ever. But the Colts kept losing in the playoffs until they stormed back against a worn out NE team and beat an incompetent Bears team. The Colts just fade when it comes to the playoffs. Even the SB win against the Bears and Wretched Rex Grossman was a fairly close affair until the end.

I think you have to give some of the blame for the Colts' so-so record in the playoffs to Peyton. Someone on another Website claimed that his QB rating in the playoffs is something like 89. If that's close to the actual number, I think the answer to the question "Is Peyton of the best?" has to be "Yes, BUT..."

Posted by: kcar | February 8, 2010 10:00 PM

Let me get this out of the way. Manning's "legacy" is intact. He is clearly one of the best quarterbacks statistically of all time, and he is an amazingly smart quarterback. But what is the basis for saying that his playoff record doesn't matter when comparing him against the best of the best? In what tradition of sports analysis is playoff/championship performance irrelevant? Dan Marino does not get this benefit and he certainly (see below) was not surrounded by the talent that Manning has had around him.

Also, you're defending Manning on the basis that all three of his main targets (Wayne, Harrison, Clark) for most of his career were too highly paid, depleting the salary money available for the defense. That's a stretch. Those salaries would seem to suggest that Manning has long had the benefit of some of the best receivers possible. And I also think it's more than a little uncharitable to suggest that Reggie Wayne and Marvin Harrison would not have been great without Manning forcing them to train.

Tom Brady is the best QB of the 2000s. It's easy to forget after his year off and a comeback year, but Brady has three rings, none of which he won with Wes Welker or Randy Moss. But more importantly, I ask you to fair-mindedly review the teammates that Brady and Manning have had over the last 10 years and then try to make the case that Manning has had a raw deal in that department.

Manning's a Hall of Fame no-brainer, but one would have to completely discount the value of playoff leadership (e.g. winning the Super Bowl your first year as starter throwing to Troy Brown, David Patten and Jermaine Wiggins) to rank him above Brady as quarterback of the decade.

Posted by: BoNeWa | February 8, 2010 10:35 PM

Manning is way behind Brady in legacy & SB wins.

Posted by: durk2 | February 8, 2010 10:55 PM

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