Peyton Manning announced his retirement today and I am glad his 18-year run is over. It's always a pleasure to see a star player like Manning or Ray Lewis leave the game hoisting the Super Bowl trophy because they meant so much to the game.
It was an amazing career. In today's NFL, where the coaches control everything, he was the only quarterback who still could totally control an offense.
I didn't care for some of the gyrations and dramatics, but I loved watching him throw the football. He was one of those quarterbacks who could still deliver the long ball on a rope or throw the deep out exactly where it needed to be delivered: high, outside and tight. Manning made good receivers great and average receivers good.
Listen to his peers, and you will know the lasting impact that Manning will have on the game. He changed the way defenses prepared and disguised schemes. Former Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan talked about spending countless hours trying to draw up schemes to stop Manning. It rarely worked, and if it did, it was for only a brief period.
We could talk about the stats, we could talk about the wins and walking out on a high note with the Super Bowl 50 championship. We could talk about how he relied on the running game and had lost his fastball over the last couple of years. We could also talk about those awful commercials.
Those areas will be addressed endlessly over the next couple of days.
But we need to address the impact of him leaving the game. The NFL is a quarterback needy league, and a great one walked away today. In a league where most quarterbacks struggle to read coverages, set protections and deliver a catchable ball, Manning was head and shoulders above the rest. He was one of the few players I would pay money to watch every Sunday.
Canton will be calling in five years. There will always be a debate if he was the greatest, but I really don't care. To do anything in life and be one of the best at it is a great accomplishment.
I was concerned about Manning's health the last couple of years. At the end of this season, he looked in so much pain just trying to throw a short pass to the far side of the field. But I won't remember those days much, just like I don't remember John Unitas in a San Diego uniform.
I'll just remember Manning for what he was, one of the best to ever play the game, possibly the best pure thrower ever.