In an interesting coincidence, halfway through the 2012 season, Indianapolis Colts rookie quarterback Andrew Luck has thrown for 2,404 yards--the exact same number of yards that his predecessor, Peyton Manning, has passed for with the Denver Broncos.
Further, both the Colts and the Broncos are 5-3.
This isn't the only common thread between the two quarterbacks, of course. Both were No. 1 overall picks in their respective NFL drafts, both cutting their NFL teeth with the Colts. It's natural, then, to want to compare the two.
Most fans know that Manning's Colts won three games during his rookie season in 1998, so Luck's Colts have already surpassed that number.
Through his first eight games, Luck has passed for 2,404 yards, 10 touchdowns, and 8 interceptions. The rookie also has 148 rushing yards and three more scores on the ground.
Manning's stat line through the first eight games of his rookie season: 1,873 passing yards, 11 touchdowns, and 16 interceptions. He had 33 rushing yards--26 of which came in one game--and no rushing touchdowns.
So what does all of this mean? Absolutely nothing.
Different Times, Different Circumstances
Comparing Luck's statistics to those of Manning in either 2012 or 1998 is meaningless.
The Colts had been really bad for two decades before Manning's arrival. In fact, the Colts went a collective 114-197-1 from 1978 through 1997--an abysmal .367 winning percentage over the course of 20 seasons.
There was the occasional 8-8 or 9-7 campaign--plus the soul-crushing trip to the 1995 AFC Championship game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in which Jim Harbaugh and Aaron Bailey came within a whisker of pulling off a miracle trip to Super Bowl XXX--but for the most part, the Colts were all about losing.
Manning's 1998 team, then, had an enormous culture of losing to overcome. No one, including John Elway, wanted to play for the Colts.
Thanks in large part to Manning, however, Luck stepped into a culture of winning. The 2011 season was an unspeakable disaster, of course, without Manning under center, but 11 of the previous 12 seasons resulted in double-digit win totals, 11 trips to the playoffs, two Super Bowl appearances, and one Lombardi Trophy.
Manning played a large role in creating the environment in Indianapolis that has helped Luck be as successful in his rookie season as he has been.
Apples and Oranges
The quarterback isn't the end-all be-all of a football team, either, so simply comparing Manning's and Luck's rookie seasons is inaccurate. Teammates, coaches, opponents, divisions, schedules, and front office personnel must also be considered. Manning had an entirely different set of circumstances to deal with than Luck has, neither of which is more--or less--challenging than the other. They're simply different.
Comparing Luck to 2012 Manning is even more absurd.
Just because Luck has more passing yards, more touchdowns, and more wins than Manning had in this particular slice of time does not make him a better quarterback than Manning. Should Manning's Broncos have more success than Luck's Colts this season, it won't mean that letting Manning walk was a mistake.
The topic of Peyton Manning is still a very touchy subject in Colts Nation, and much like Indiana basketball fans will never quit debating the wisdom of how Bobby Knight's tenure ended in Bloomington, Colts fans will forever remain divided over the prudence of cutting Manning loose.
What Colts fans should try to remember is that Luck is his own person. It's unfair to leave him in Manning's shadow and expect that any comparison between the two is any more accurate than comparing apples to oranges. They're two entirely different people playing for two entirely different teams under two entirely different sets of circumstances.
With luck, fans of the Indianapolis Colts will look back on Manning and Luck much like San Francisco 49ers fans look back on Joe Montana and Steve Young, or how Green Bay Packers fans look at Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers--as two great quarterbacks who each led their respective teams to years of success.
Eric Ivie is a resident of central Indiana and a longtime fan of the Colts. He is also a Featured Contributor in Sports for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. You can follow him on Twitter at @RedZoneWriting and on Facebook.