Here are a few facts…just in passing.
Only Brett Favre and Pro Football Hall of Famer Dan Marino have thrown for more yards in NFL history. And only Favre has totaled more touchdown passes in the league's 93-year history.
But there's one number, fair or unfair, that always seems to take center stage when it comes to current Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning.
And that's 9-11.
In 14 seasons on the field, Manning has thrown for 59,487 yards, topped only by Favre (71,838) and Marino (61,361). And considering the former Indianapolis Colts signal-caller has totaled 4,000 or more yards through the air 12 times, it's safe to assume (if healthy) he'll move past Marino in 2013.
Manning has also thrown 436 touchdown passes--more than twice as many interceptions (209) than he has totaled in 224 regular-season starts.
But there's still that 9-11.
When it comes to those 224 contests, the former number one pick in the 1998 draft has won twice as many games (154) as he has lost (70).
So what's the point of all of this statistical analysis?
It's about perception. And for some, that 9-11 postseason record seems to take more of a center stage than his numerous accomplishments.
While it's not time to put Manning out to pasture, it will be interesting to see how the veteran performer is ultimately remembered when it's all said and done. He's been called the best quarterback in NFL history by some and the top regular-season quarterback by others.
The 9-11 mark includes a Super Bowl win (XLI) and a Super Bowl loss (XLIV)--both while with the Colts--as well as numerous early playoff exits by Manning and his teams.
A season ago, the Broncos were the AFC's No. 1 seed with a 13-3 record and took an 11-game winning streak into their divisional playoff meeting with the visiting Baltimore Ravens. But some shaky defense and three Manning turnovers helped turn an expected win into a 38-35 double overtime loss.
That means Manning has now lost his last three postseason games dating back to the Super Bowl setback to the New Orleans Saints.
Still, the Broncos have as good a chance as any team to reach Super Bowl XLVIII. And if Manning can somehow lead his team to the Big Game and win it, he would become the first quarterback to lead two different franchises to a Lombardi Trophy.
On the other hand, another title would give Peyton only as many Super Bowl wins as his younger brother Eli, who led the New York Giants to victories over the New England Patriots in XLII and XLVI.
But that family debate is for another time. For now, is Peyton another Super Bowl win from being the best quarterback of all time? Is he another early playoff loss from more criticism?
Fortunately, the answer will come later than sooner as Manning prepares for another season.
But one can't help but start to wonder about one of the game's most prolific performers and how he will be ultimately remembered.
Russell S. Baxter has spent the last 40-plus years watching football. He is the founder of ProFootballGuru.com, writes for numerous websites and publications across the country and is blessed with an encyclopedic memory. Ready to talk NFL? Follow him on Twitter at @BaxFootballGuru.
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