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Peyton Manning

On Boxing Day of this year, Peyton Manning, quarterback to the National Football League’s (NFL) Indianapolis Colts, etched his name into the record books by breaking Dan Marino’s illustrious mark of 48 touchdown passes in a season.  The breaking of the record occurred in a game that saw the Colts defeat the San Diego Chargers 34-31 in overtime.      

In the much hyped game featuring two playoff-bound teams, Manning broke Marino’s record with a 21-yard bullet pass to wide-receiver, Brendan Stokely with 56 seconds left in regulation time, which helped forced the game into overtime.  The Colts prevailed with the victory when kicker Mike Vanderjagt completed a 30-yard field goal attempt with less than three minutes left in the extra period.  Manning, who will enter the NFL’s final week with 49 touchdown passes, has the chance of becoming the first player to pass for 50 touchdowns or more, in their last game against the Denver Broncos. 

The record seemed destined to be broken from the outset of the season, in which Manning has been consistently spectacular.  A lesser-known record that Manning broke during this regular season was recording at least four touchdown passes in five consecutive games during Week 8 to Week 12 against the Kansas City Chiefs, Minnesota Vikings, Houston Texans, Chicago Bears, and Detroit Tigers.  For the season, Manning is currently ranked first in the league in the major quarterback statistical categories: Touchdowns (49 – 12 more than the next leading quarterback, Dante Culpepper), Quarterback rating (121.4), and Yards Passing (4,551).  

Even before he entered the league seven seasons ago, great things was expected from Peyton Manning who entered the NFL as a highly touted first overall pick from the 1998 NFL Draft.  Originating from a family with a strong football background – his father Archie Manning was a Pro Bowl quarterback for the New Orleans Saints during the 1970’s, and his younger brother, Eli Manning was another highly-touted quarterback is was drafted by the New York Giants with the first overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft – high expectations was expected from Manning after a celebrated high school and collegiate career. 

During his high school days, Manning was one of the most heavily recruited players in the history of the game.  Manning chose to attend the University of Tennessee where he proceeded to shatter almost every school offensive record.  In his tenure here, Manning led the school to the Citrus Bowl and Orange Bowl.  In his senior year, Manning finished second in voting for the prestigious Heisman Trophy, which recognizes the best football player of that college season.  Manning was awarded the lesser-known Maxwell Award for being the nation’s top player, and the Davey O’Brien Award for the nation’s top quarterback.  

Peyton Manning became the starting quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts as a rookie, and he has not missed a start since being inserted in that spot, exhibiting his remarkable durability.  In fact, Manning has only missed one snap throughout his career due to injury (he has missed snaps when games have been out of reach for his team or the opponents).  Before his arrival, the Colts were a moribund franchise, that had always seem to dwell near the bottom of the standings for what seemed like an eternity to Colts fans.  He, along with running-back Edgerrin James and wide-receiver Marvin Harrison, have been the main cogs behind the franchise’s revival to become one of the top teams in the NFL.  Manning has continually improved his game every season, and has been named to the Pro Bowl four times already.  Last season, Manning was awarded the NFL MVP award, which he shared with Tennessee Titan’s quarterback, Steve McNair.     

Although not naturally endowed with the mobility and strength of many other quarterbacks in the league, Manning sets himself apart as an elite quarterback with his high football intelligence and strong work ethic.  His coaches, teammates, and fans all highly respect Manning because of his 100% commitment to performing at a high level each and every game, no matter their importance.  His success can be largely attributed to his extensive and meticulous preparation for games, which has enabled him to read his opponent’s defense easily and systematically pick it apart.  Although he doesn’t possess the strongest arm, he has arguably the best throwing technique in the game, which has allowed him to stay relatively injury-free in his career. 

Peyton Manning’s extraordinary season this year has added to his growing legend, with many people comparing him to Dan Marino, the quarterback whose record he recently broke.  Marino, who was the legendary quarterback for the Miami Dolphins during the 1980’s and 90’s, was Manning’s football idol growing up.