The Case For The Broncos Ring Of Fame: Peyton Manning

In the fifth of Thin Air’s series on considerations for the Broncos Ring of Fame is Peyton Manning (2012-2015).

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Peyton Manning came to the team via an extreme rarity: a Hall of Fame caliber quarterback as an unrestricted free agent. (Brett Favre and maybe Drew Brees are the only others that qualify.) He arrived amid one of the most divisive period among followers of the Broncos: longtime fans versus Tim Tebow devotees. For John Elway, there was no such division, as the arrival of Manning led to the quick departure of Tebow.

He was with the Broncos for only four seasons, a tenure the Ring of Fame considers to be the minimum necessary for induction.  In those four seasons, here’s the basic sampling of what he accomplished:

  • 17,112 total yards, 140 touchdowns, and a passer rating of 101.7.
  • A record setting number of yards (5477) and touchdowns (55) in one season, 2013.
  • Being part of a regular season record of 50-14, with all seasons containing either 12 or 13 wins.
  • Being part of four AFC West titles, two AFC championships, and one Super Bowl.

Another rule of the Ring of Fame is that there is a five-year waiting period, only formally waived for Elway. However, that has not stopped the Broncos from already recognizing his contributions inside the stadium, as he shares the retirement of #18 with Frank Tripucka.

  • WhoShotBobbyHumphrey

    “He arrived amid one of the most divisive period among followers of the Broncos: longtime fans versus Tim Tebow devotees.”
    I’d like to think I was a Longtime fan, that really liked Tim Tebow.

    • Yahmule

      There were Bronco fans who liked Tebow and there were assholes who came by specifically to root for Tebow and complain about everything else in Bronco Country.

      • WhoShotBobbyHumphrey

        I’d like to think this site weeds out the folks who are true fans, from the people who just follow a team for one player. That’s not a real fan. I will admit, when Tebow was dropped for Manning I was disappointed. I was unsure if he would ever be the same after the 4 neck surgeries. I was actually hoping he would retire, because I liked him, and thought quality of life was more important than football. When he beat the Chargers on MNF after being down 24-0 at half, all that changed for me.

        • Yahmule

          The year he went to New York, I registered at the Gang Green site. The mods there were smart and they immediately installed a Tebow sub-forum to keep their main board from getting slogged down by his fans. It was kind of fun. Tebow fans and Tebow haters trolled each other endlessly. I showed up to inform people that John Elway was not jealous of Tim Tebow and no man protective of his legacy would have let Destroyer of Record Books Peyton Manning anywhere near his team.

          • Nick

            This kid has a line that was just destined to troll Jets fans: “Why couldn’t Peyton Manning have gone to the Jets?”

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0AHHEfbIlLo

          • Yahmule

            Put that kid outside for a few days. After those missed meal cramps hit him, he’ll be begging to root for the Broncos again.

          • WhoShotBobbyHumphrey

            Good point.

        • drewthorn

          My first Broncos conscious year was ’77, and I was rapidly dismissed in the IAOFM world as a mindless Tebow zombie for merely believing Tebow could improve.

          It’s sort of ironic when you think about it. I catch some shit now for being negative, but not near as much as I caught for being optimistic.

          • Yahmule

            Didn’t Ted Barnett share that viewpoint? I know I talked myself into that notion as well.

          • bradley

            Ted did. Ted had to eat crow.

          • WhoShotBobbyHumphrey

            Did Ted stick to his guns, or flip flop?

          • WhoShotBobbyHumphrey

            IAOFM dismissed a lot of folks as “Tebow Zealots”. It was almost like the Salem Witch Trials.

          • Alaskan

            And yet we missed some witches apparently.

          • WhoShotBobbyHumphrey

            Thank you for the “literal laugh out loud”!

    • Jeremy

      Yeah, I was a longtime fan that liked Tebow, but that liked Peyton so much more.

    • Nick

      I, too, was a longtime fan that liked Tebow. Yahmule explained very well who I was talking about–Tebowmaniacs would be the more accurate term.

  • gobroncos

    Wow, I’m the only one voting no so far? He only played 4 seasons for the Broncos. 2-1/2 really. He was great and all, but I’ll never hold him in as high esteem as Elway. I spent years hating the guy! I hated how many commercials he was in. It was like I couldn’t get him off my TV. When he became a Bronco, I forgave all that and even said that at least his commercials were funny so they were justified.

    • Jeremy

      Just because you don’t hold him to the same esteem you hold Elway to, doesn’t mean he isn’t incredibly deserving

    • Yahmule

      I think the most hilarious thing is every picture you see of him now, he’s wearing Orange. Click on Google Images and it’s all Bronco uniforms with a smattering of Colts and Volunteers pics.

    • T. Jensen

      while not exactly equivalent Gary Zimmerman is similar in many ways to Manning. He is in the Ring of Fame and Hall of Fame and probably good enough to be in the vikings ring as well (though he isn’t currently)

      • Nick

        I could be wrong about this and I’m having difficulty confirming this on Google, so be aware of that. But I thought I recalled that Zimmerman has a more positive opinion of the Broncos than the Vikings.

        • G Mik

          No question he felt that way. I believe he had Mr Bowlen deliver his HoF speech which also says as much.

        • T. Jensen

          So that’s one of my big problems with ring of fame vs hall of fame. Hall of fame is pretty much statistical driven. Ring of fame doesn’t really have to have metrics. And I would argue that a players impact on the city of Denver/fans should weigh almost as much as on the field activities. Manning has both.

          Zimmerman has the stats in Minnesota to be considered a good player but probably has some hurt feelings about they way their relationship ended. And might not have the intangibles.

          While speaking of edge cases, I think an interesting write up could be Darrent Williams as a ring of fame candidate.

          • Nick

            I’ve been debating whether or not to do one on D-Will. Since you mentioned him I might go ahead and include him later.

        • Jeremy

          Just like Manning. Glad we cheer for such a classy organization

      • gnasses

        Disagree. I think Zim had one more year in MN than Denver. He was a veteran leader on a very young offense. He brought his “no talking” personality and made it define the Denver OL, and culminated his years as a Bronco with a SB victory and retired a world champion.

        • Jeremy

          Manning meets every accolade you list for Zimmerman, with the exception of years played with Previous team. The 2013 record setting offense was incredibly young, with the only other veterans being Clady, Vazquez and Welker. Manning didn’t have anything as drastic as not talking to the media, but I think he interacted with them in a unique, professional way that rubbed off on others on the team.

          Zimmerman played 5 years in Denver, 7 in Min, and 2 in the USFL. If Manning had only played 6 years in Indy before coming here, would your opinion change?

          • gnasses

            If he had not had great success and already been talked about as a sure-fire HOFer then absolutely. Peyton Manning was already PMFM before he arrived here. 3 seasons of great play, and one of mediocre play and great victory were awesome but those Broncos season’s don’t define Peyton. His play up until he signed here had already defined him, he just had a better team and organization here.
            I took a look, and the 94 Offense was not as young as I remember, and the 2013 group was younger than I remember. But no comparison as to the talent on those teams. One was a turnaround project, and one just missing a piece. That is part of my thinking too.

          • T. Jensen

            Who cares what he did or meant to the colts? He was great for us, there is no reason to penalize him (or his Denver fans) just because he also played great somewhere else. In the short time he was here he did way more than any other QB (apart from Elway) and more than quite a few other players.

            He had way more impact than John Lynch (another player that had a great career somewhere else)

            Is the Ring of Fame for the player, the team or the fans?

          • WhoShotBobbyHumphrey

            Wasn’t Clady injured for the whole season in the preseason that year?

        • Yahmule

          The Orange Hush didn’t hurt Zim, but I think it derailed any Tom Nalen HOF talk in the station.

    • G Mik

      That shouldn’t be the bar. Not that I’m saying you’re not aloud to have your own opinions, of course you are. But do you actually think there will ever be a QB we’ll hold in higher esteem than Elway? Very doubtful. Nearly impossible. And there are other QBs in the ring of fame that haven’t done for our franchise what Manning did. This is a no-brainer IMO. If it weren’t for “The Dream” he could well have taken us to 3 Super Bowls in 4 years. Come on.

      • Nick

        “The Dream”

        I refuse to use his self-given nickname even in scare quotes.

        • WhoShotBobbyHumphrey

          While we’re picking scabs, if we didn’t trade away that first round pick for Alfonso Smith we could’ve taken Earl Thomas and “The Nightmare” would’ve never been on our team. I am going to wash my fingers in bleach after typing that shit.

          • Nick

            You just triggered me with that. Now, given that the Broncos had already taken Darcel McBath and David Bruton the year before, and still had Brian Dawkins on the roster, it was highly unlikely that they would have actually taken Thomas. However, that doesn’t stop Seahawks fans from twisting the dagger deeper…

          • WhoShotBobbyHumphrey

            I’m sorry bro. It’s still too soon… I shouldn’t have went there.

          • Nick

            No worries, there are some things in which it will always be too soon. The fucking 1996 Jaguars will always be perennially triggering.

          • WhoShotBobbyHumphrey

            Are you trying to 1 up me?! I almost lost my dinner with that comment.

    • ohiobronco

      The problem with this argument is that he easily qualifies for the ROF even if his 4 years as a Bronco were his only 4 in the league. He is 2nd in Broncos history in career yards, TD passes and wins. He is ahead of 3 other ROF QBs in these three categories.

      • gnasses

        If those 4 years were his only 4 in the league, I would support him for the ROF. He was AWESOME here. But he was awesome in Indy too, just for a lot longer.

        • ohiobronco

          I don’t find time with another team relevant. But that’s ok, everyone has different criteria and that’s what makes these discussions interesting.

    • Kyle Milligan

      Totally get the ” He’s not ours” element of your argument.
      I just feel he haD an amazingly impactful tenure here, aside from his actual on-field stats.
      I don’t think elway could have had all the FA signings without having PM here as leverage.
      All he had to do was say ” you know you get to play with one of the GOATS here, right?” Dudes were taking the offer in front of them.

      • Yahmule

        I think Peyton’s draw for free agents has always been a bit overstated. Of course players complimented him effusively when they arrived. Free agents in every town put their best foot forward. The Broncos have been a model franchise for many years and Colorado is an amazing place to live. The number of players who came here for a year or two and then settled here after football is extensive. Also, John Elway was the guy who convinced Champ Bailey to stay in Denver and the guy who convinced Peyton to come here. People have begun using Peyton’s presence as a way to minimize Elway’s record as an executive. I don’t think you can isolate a single factor that makes Denver attractive destination for free agents.

        Is there any tangible case someone can point to of a player taking less to come to Denver specifically to play with Manning? People like to talk about Sanders, but he wanted big money when FA started and the Broncos shifted attention to Brandon LaFell. Then Sanders and his agent realized the market was way softer than they expected. The Chiefs accused them of having an agreement and then shopping the offer around. Elway swooped in and outbid them at the last minute.

        I’m not sure everybody knows this, but New England almost acquired Sanders for chump change. He signed with them as a restricted free agent in 2013 and Pittsburgh matched offer.

  • gnasses

    I’m in the lonely dissenting group with you Gobroncos.
    4 seasons here, 14 with colts before. A coveted, highly-recruited free agent looking for a last shot in the twilight of a career is a mercenary. He even won a SB in Indy first, so it is not like he culminated his career here. I love me some Peyton, but when I think of him it is as a longtime Colt who got screwed over by their management and came here for a couple of great seasons.
    Hall of fame? Without a doubt, unanimous first ballot! Are you crazy?
    Denver Broncos Ring of Fame? Meh.
    Here is a thought exercise. If Laserface suffered a season ending injury in Game 1 and a rookie QB came in and was MVP candidate while our young QBs all poop the bed. Laserface is released, signs with us and has a few playoff runs and wins a SB in the prime of Von and the NFZ then retires old and declining. Ring of fame? Nope.

    • Nick

      I had to go to Urban Dictionary to learn that Laserface refers to Philip Rivers, in case anyone else was also confused.

      • Carsonic

        Yes, thank you.

      • gnasses

        My apologies. I thought that derisive moniker was well saturated here.

    • Jeremy

      Does laser face win an MVP, be runner up for another, go to three pro bowls, be a champion in the community, fully embrace being a Bronco and talk about what an honor it is? Does the organization talk about how he raises all boats, and does he help attract some of the greatest free agent hauls in the teams history that were needed to put the team over the top? Does he help lead the team to 4 division titles, and set records for most points, passing yards, and TDs in a single season?

      If the answer were yes to even a few of those questions (in addition to what you describe above), than I would say yes, absolutely induct laser face into the ROF.

      • gnasses

        Peyton seems like a nice guy. But he also says and does the right things because he is sensible and knows it is good for him in the short and long term. Keeps a great image. Good for him. I can’t think, however, he would not have behaved like that (community, recruiting, PR, etc) anywhere that gave him a chance continue his career and allowed him to have success. Good FAs would have followed another top QB here, although I am not saying that is a guarantee for success. PMFM was a great player, no doubt, but he came into a pretty ideal situation. Maybe you would not see quite the same success (debatable, surely), but I think we would have won our last SB with any top-10 statistical QB at the helm.

    • drewthorn

      The die is cast on the mercenary question. While I have much sympathy for your argument, I don’t think you can include all the mercs they have and then deny the crown jewel of that phenotype. PMFM presided over the best 5 year stretch in Broncos history.

      • bradley

        “PMFM presided over the best 5 year stretch in Broncos history.”
        Very well put.
        Great point

  • PiperAR

    No, but John Lynch is in, so yes.

    • orangeandblueaussie

      All that is wrong with the John Lynch nomination in 8 words. Well done.

  • JMac

    Boy, the Lynch nomination has really put a stain on anyone who ever played for another team… I’m not sure PMFM’s stint with the colts should really impact his ROF nomination, it’s what he did while he was here.

    This conversation will probably be different in 4 years time, when everyone is slightly less upset about Lynch.