There is a lot of talk around the National Football League that the 2013 season could be the last for quarterback Peyton Manning. Not that he is over the hill, because in 2013 he turned in the greatest year statistically of any quarterback to ever play the game. In March, he will have his surgically corrected neck examined by doctors to see how it is holding up. If there is any further damage or additional risk to injury, he will likely retire at the end of this season.
Don’t read too much into this. The examination is routine and mandated by the Denver Broncos, but Peyton fans everywhere must face the facts; he will be 38 when next season rolls around. With the exception of Brett Favre, George Blanda and a few others, most quarterbacks are through by the time they reach 38 years old. If Peyton hadn’t missed the entire 2011 season with those neck and nerve problems, he could be looking at four, five or even six more seasons. He’s in excellent physical condition, but the neck is not something to be playing around with.
Peyton Mannings career stats are absolutely phenomenal. He is second all-time in touchdown passes thrown with 491, trailing only Brett Favre’s total of 508. In career passing yards, he trails Favre by less than 7,000 yards, and when you consider he missed the entire 2011 season with neck problems, those stats become even more amazing.
In 2013, he set new NFL single season marks with 55 touchdown passes and 5477 yards through the air. He has done everything a quarterback could possibly do in the NFL. He has won a Super Bowl, (2006 with the Colts) he has been an MVP four times with his fifth award a lock for 2013, and he has been an all-pro selection seven times, tying Otto Graham’s record for quarterbacks. He is arguably the greatest quarterback to ever play the game of football.
Perhaps the best compliment I ever heard about Peyton Manning came from former UTC Coach Buddy Nix, who at the time was heading to Buffalo as assistant General Manager. (He would later become the team’s GM) Buddy said, “What makes him so great is that he makes the players around him so much better. He practically wills them to win.”
Peyton was still with the Colts back then, but he has had the same effect on the Denver Broncos. Denver is 26-6 with him as the starting quarterback for his two years in the “mile high city.” The Broncos are also 1-1 in the post season in the past two years. His goal has been to win another Super Bowl, and the Broncos are favored to beat the New England Patriots on Sunday afternoon to advance to his third Super Sunday event.
Win or lose on Sunday, it’s been a fabulous run for Archie and Olivia Manning’s middle son. When he was rewriting the record books at Tennessee from 1994-1997, it was part of the richest era in Volunteer football history. I was in the midst of a 17-year run on the Vol Radio Network, and I became a Peyton Manning fan from the first time he walked on campus. When the Patriots and Broncos take the field Sunday afternoon, I will be stationed in front of my television set, pulling for Peyton Manning to beat the Patriots just one more time, but as far as I’m concerned I consider myself truly blessed to have covered his career and pulled for him for 20 years.
Randy Smith has been covering sports on radio, television and print for the past 45 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has written two books, and has continued to free-lance as a play-by-play announcer. He is currently teaching Broadcasting at Coahulla Creek High School near Dalton, Ga.
His career has included a 17-year stretch as host of the Kickoff Call In Show on the University of Tennessee’s prestigious Vol Network. He has been a member of the Vol Network staff for thirty years.
He has done play-by-play on ESPN, ESPN II, CSS, and Fox SportSouth, totaling more than 500 games, and served as a well-known sports anchor on Chattanooga Television for more than a quarter-century.
In 2003, he became the first television broadcaster to be inducted into the Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame. Randy and his wife Shelia reside in Hixson, TN. They have two married children, (Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith.) They have three grandchildren, Coleman, Boone and DellaMae.
To contact Randy: firstname.lastname@example.org