Before he was the co-host of the popular Manning Megacast, Peyton Manning was a prolific quarterback whose career has been immortalized in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Manning, who hung up his cleats for good at the end of the 2015 season, turned 47 on Friday.
It’s been a quarter century since Manning was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1998 NFL Draft. Picked one spot ahead of Washington quarterback Ryan Leaf, Manning clearly rewarded the Colts for their faith in him. He quickly helped the Colts become one of the NFL‘s top teams while leading the franchise to its first title since moving to Indianapolis at the end of the 2006 season. Late in his career, Manning did similar magic in Denver while helping the Broncos win Super Bowl 50.
In celebration of his birthday, here are five fast facts on Manning, who was better known as “The Sheriff” during his 18 years as an NFL quarterback.
1. Record setter
At the time of his retirement, Manning held several NFL records that included the most career passing yards (71,940) and career touchdown passes (539). Tom Brady and Drew Brees have since passed Manning in both categories, with Brady currently No. 1 all-time in career passing yards and touchdown passes.
Manning is still the owner one the NFL’s most prolific single passing season, however. In 2013 (his second season in Denver), Manning set still-standing single-season records with 5,477 yards and 55 touchdowns. He started that season with seven touchdown passes against the defending Super Bowl champion Ravens. Manning threw at least two touchdowns in all but one game that season and had at least three touchdown passes a whopping 11 times.
Manning was also the first starting quarterback to win Super Bowls with two different franchises. Brady joined Manning in the exclusive club after leading Tampa Bay to a win in Super Bowl LV.
2. One record he’d like to see broken
It’s safe to say that Manning would love to see someone break his record for the most interceptions thrown by a rookie. Manning’s 28 interceptions in 1998 remains the highest total by a rookie in league history.
People often forget that Manning also set then-records for the most passing yards and touchdown passes by a rookie. That season, Manning threw for 3,739 yards and 26 touchdowns while leading the NFL with 575 pass attempts. His favorite target that season was Marshall Faulk, who was traded to the Rams before the start of the 1999 season. Faulk’s replacement was 1999 first-round pick Edgerrin James, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2021.
3. Worst to first
In St. Louis, Faulk helped the Rams go from a 4-12 outfit in 1998 to a 13-3 team in 1999. While the Rams won the Super Bowl that season, the Colts also went through a similar transformation during Manning’s second season under center. The Colts, who went 3-13 during Manning’s first season, also went 13-3 in 1999 while going from worst to first in the AFC East Division.
The 1999 season was the first of 14 Pro Bowl campaigns for Manning, who starting in 2002 would help the Colts win at least 10 games in nine consecutive seasons. That run of success included the Colts’ 29-17 win over the Bears in Super Bowl XLI. In that game, Manning threw for 247 yards and a touchdown despite the game being played in a torrential downpour.
Along with James, wide receiver Reggie Wayne and tight end Dallas Clark, Manning enjoyed a special connection with receiver Marvin Harrison. The two connected on 114 touchdown passes, the highest total ever between a quarterback and receiver.
2. Manning vs. Brady
Like Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, Manning and Brady’s careers will always be linked together in history. Two of the best quarterbacks in league history, Manning and Brady’s teams dueled in several epic games that had championship implications.
While Brady’s teams went 11-6 against Manning’s teams, Manning went 3-2 against Brady in the playoffs that included a 3-1 record in AFC Championship Games. In Denver, Manning led the Broncos to a pair of AFC title game wins over Brady’s Patriots that included a dramatic, 20-18 win in the final game played between the two quarterbacks.
Manning didn’t win as many rings as Brady, but he did win two more NFL MVPs than Brady did and is the all-time leader with five MVP awards. Manning won back-to-back MVPs on two separate occasions before winning his fifth and final MVP in Denver in 2013. In 2003, Manning shared league MVP with Steve McNair, the former Titans quarterback who four years earlier put up a gamely performance against the Rams in Super Bowl XXXIV.
Manning’s second MVP season was his best individual year before his record-setting 2013 season. In 2004, Manning broke Dan Marino’s 20-year-old record with 49 touchdown passes. Manning’s record stood for three years before it was broken by … Tom Brady. Manning took the record back six years later.