He’s played the game better than most: He’s already the leader in game-winning drives, 300-yard games and 4000-yard seasons. He holds the record of 509 career touchdown passes (“Say what? I didn’t see any coverage of this on the news!”), and he’ll soon be the all-time passing yardage record holder too. That means more than 79,816 yards. That’s a lot of yards…
His football IQ: He studies the playbook hard. He works tirelessly with his receivers. He reads defence and studies the film room, and he’s made more correct adjustments at the line of scrimmage than anyone else. Aaron Rodgers and Joe Montana may have an unbeatable throw, and Tom Brady may be most mobile, but if there’s such a thing as Football IQ, Manning’s a genius.
He helps others: While Brady occupied himself building a castle and then sold it, Manning was busy helping those in need. The Peyback Foundation has helped countless disadvantaged people; he and his wife donated a substantial amount of goods after Hurricane Katrina, and they fed hundreds of families last Thanksgiving. There’s a hospital in Indianapolis named after him – and they don’t name one after you if you don’t do anything to deserve it. The latest benevolent act? Upon reading a letter from a long-time fan with Stage 4 breast cancer, Kari Barnett Bollig, he treated Bollig and her husband to two days with the Broncos, watching team practices and photos, and sideline passes to the season opener. The unassuming guy that he is introduced himself (like that was needed!) and told her, “Keep fighting… I’ll be praying for you”.
He’s downright hilarious: He may look terrifyingly serious on the field, but there’s not many players as funny as Manning (can you imagine Tom Brady being funny? Uh, no?). From the MasterCard commercial to Football on Your Phone, to his stint on SNL, this guy can make us laugh (and he's not a bad actor).
He may be approaching retirement, but he’s reached immortal status amongst fans. It’s easy to see why.