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Peyton Manning Had A Hall Of Fame Career. Then He Had Another One.

After a month of speculation that began almost immediately after the clock expired in his Denver Broncos’ Super Bowl victory over the Carolina Panthers, Peyton Manning has finally made it official: He’s retiring from football after 17 NFL seasons.

You don’t need fancy stats to tell you that Manning is one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history, if not the greatest. (Granted, we’ve used statistics to describe Manning’s impact a number of times over the years.) But they do help us put his accomplishments in perspective. Much like Jerry Rice, consensus G.O.A.T. among wide receivers, there are two (!) Hall of Fame careers lurking inside Manning’s résumé, according to a variant of Chase Stuart’s all-time QB ranking algorithm:1

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YARDS ABOVE…
QUARTERBACK YEARS PASS ATT. AVERAGE QB BACKUP QB
Peyton Manning 1998-15 9,380 16,560 24,101
Dan Marino 1983-99 8,358 12,049 19,029
Tom Brady 2000-15 7,792 12,327 18,245
Drew Brees 2001-15 8,085 9,572 16,151
Brett Favre 1991-10 10,169 5,816 13,971
Joe Montana 1979-94 5,391 9,504 13,106
Manning (even years) 1998-14 5,205 8,913 13,098
Manning (2nd half) 2006-15 5,047 8,184 12,456
Manning (1st half) 1998-05 4,333 8,376 11,645
Dan Fouts 1973-87 5,604 7,335 11,280
Steve Young 1985-99 4,149 9,890 11,175
Manning (odd years) 1999-15 4,175 7,648 11,002
John Elway 1983-98 7,250 4,930 9,793
Aaron Rodgers 2005-15 4,047 7,791 9,775
Ben Roethlisberger 2004-15 5,423 5,921 9,426
Philip Rivers 2004-15 5,339 5,174 9,217
Ken Anderson 1971-86 4,475 7,087 9,162
Tony Romo 2006-15 4,331 5,304 8,414
Warren Moon 1984-00 6,823 2,947 8,062
Carson Palmer 2004-15 5,443 3,496 8,053
Roger Staubach 1969-79 2,958 6,284 7,187
Troy Aikman 1989-00 4,715 3,292 7,035
Jim Kelly 1986-96 4,779 2,815 6,295
Terry Bradshaw 1970-83 3,901 2,112 4,465
Peyton Manning’s had two Hall of Fame careers

Source: Pro-Football-Reference.com

Whether you break Manning’s career into two parts chronologically or based on even- and odd-numbered seasons, each half is of essentially the same quality as a Hall of Fame QB — like, say, Dan Fouts or Steve Young — by itself. Manning had more opportunities to throw the ball than just about anyone, ever, so he’s had an advantage in piling up value over replacement compared with quarterbacks of previous eras. But he also helped shape the NFL into the pass-heavy game it’s become, serving as the ultimate archetype of a modern field general.

The end of Manning’s career was ugly — both statistically and in terms of off-field allegations — even if he did cap it off with a Super Bowl title. But in terms of his on-field performance, few QBs could match even half of what Manning accomplished over his storied career.

Footnotes

  1. Setting each passer’s adjusted yards against the replacement level of a backup QB, the same baseline used by Football Outsiders in their Yards Above Replacement metric.

Neil Paine is a senior sportswriter for FiveThirtyEight.

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