In the most “duh” move ever, Peyton Manning was the first finalist revealed by the Pro Football Hall of Fame for the Class of 2021, which will be officially announced Saturday at NFL Honors, the culminating league event before Super Bowl Sunday.
A two-time Super Bowl champ and NFL MVP five times over, Manning was considered as much a “no brainer” to be a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer as John Elway in 2004.
In fact, long-time Indianapolis Colts’ beat writer Mike Chappell’s speech before the Hall of Fame voters reportedly lasted just 13 seconds as he spoke via zoom:
“I’ll make it brief because my Wi-Fi’s screwing up. I’ll just say: ‘Peyton Manning.’ I would drop my laptop but I’m not going to do that, so just pretend that you see me dropping the mic. End of discussion.”
Chappell didn’t even need 13 seconds. He could have just said “Peyton Manning” and finished it in one.
Peyton Manning's 43 career postseason touchdowns!— NFL (@NFL) July 24, 2019
43 days until our 100th season. (via @nflthrowback) pic.twitter.com/HfwZXqamOr
Manning, drafted at the No. 1 spot by the Colts in 1998, played 18 seasons in the NFL, went to four Super Bowls and retired after winning his second, this time with the Broncos, a team he joined in 2012.
Named the Comeback Player of the Year in 2012 after sitting out a year due to neck surgery, No. 18 led the Broncos to playoff appearances in all four of his seasons in Denver, and his .789 winning percentage is the highest for a Broncos quarterback with at least 25 starts.
Manning retired in 2016 holding multiple NFL records at the time, including career passing yards (71,940), career passing touchdowns (539) and consecutive seasons with at least 25 passing touchdowns (13).
He owns 43 touchdown passes in the postseason, seven first-team All-Pro seasons, 14 Pro Bowl nods and was named to the All-Decade Team of the 2000s.
An NFL-record MVP awards. ✅— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) January 28, 2021
The most TD passes in a single season. ✅
The list goes on and on ...
With the Broncos, Manning brought Denver back to a winning tradition, logging 140 touchdowns and 17,112 passing yards in just four seasons.
The Sheriff holds the Broncos’ single-season record for most passing yards and ranks second in franchise history in career passing yards, completions and touchdown passes. Manning also ranks first in franchise history in completion percentage.
During his MVP season in 2013, Manning hit an NFL-record 55 touchdown passes and threw for an NFL record 5,477 yards in that final MVP campaign.
It took me 'til week 6 to fully embrace that the Peyton Manning Broncos would be different. pic.twitter.com/qUHk1uQ832— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) February 3, 2021
Super Bowl 50 did not bring amazing stats to Manning’s resume, and that season saw the Hall-of-Famer benched for the first time in his career.
But ask anyone on that championship team what Manning meant to the Broncos that season, and they’ll tell you “everything.”
Without No. 18, there would have been no third Lombardi.
I would say, "We didn't realize just how good we had it with #PeytonManning."— Doctor of Words (and tights) (@docllv) November 3, 2018
But it wouldn't be true.
I ALWAYS knew. https://t.co/jQjK7TBp7G
Manning and the other 14 finalists will be officially introduced Saturday at the NFL Honors event broadcast at 7 p.m. Mile High Time on CBS.
Inductions are scheduled for next August when the 2020 class and a special centennial class also will be enshrined after the COVID-19 pandemic forced postponement of those ceremonies last summer.
That means Broncos’ Hall of Fame safety Steve Atwater will be inducted the same time as Manning - a must-see event for Broncos Country.
But Saturday is Peyton’s Day, and we will all celebrate in true Broncos Country fashion:
Have a Mile High Salute, Peyton. You deserve it.