Before he was seemingly in every other commercial during an NFL game, Peyton Manning was setting up a Hall of Fame career. Manning is considered one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history, and he’s got the stats and the rings to prove it. Peyton comes from a family of footballers, but he has had his own journey. Here is the story of Peyton Manning’s career, from his famous father to his post-gaming career.
1 in 20
Success in high school
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The son of NFL quarterback Archie Manning, Peyton had football in his blood. While Peyton’s older brother Cooper had to quit football in high school due to spinal stenosis, Peyton would wear his number 18 in his honor at Isidore Newman High School in New Orleans. Manning started for three years at Newman and was such a sought-after recruit that 60 schools reportedly showed interest in him.
2 out of 20
Peyton avoids Ole Miss for Tennessee
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Many thought Manning would go to Ole Miss, where his father Archie played. It’s also where Peyton’s younger brother, Eli, would go to college. However, Peyton decided to become a Tennessee volunteer instead. College football fans being what they are, many Ole Miss fans were upset by the decision.
3 out of 20
Manning becomes freshman starter
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When Manning was a freshman, he started the season as a third-string quarterback despite the recruiting battle. In the season opener, starter Jerry Colquitt suffered a season-ending injury, giving Manning his first college action. In the end, however, Todd Helton – yes the future baseball star – became the new starter. Then, in the fourth game of the season, Helton got injured and Peyton stepped in as a starter. He will remain the starter for the rest of his college career.
4 out of 20
Success in Tennessee, but stumble against Florida
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Manning and the Volunteers had great success in 1995 and 1996, including winning two Citrus Bowls. In fact, they finished third in the standings after the 1995 season. And yet Tennessee couldn’t get over the hump? The problem? Losses to the Florida Gators, who beat them both seasons and kept Manning and Tennessee out of the SEC title game. Also, we’d be remiss not to note that during the 1996 season, Peyton was accused of sexual misconduct by a female coach. Peyton, Archie, and writer John Underwood would then repeatedly disparage her in a book the three wrote together, leading to a libel suit that would be settled out of court.
5 out of 20
Manning returns for one more season, fails in Heisman race
When people were saying Peyton would be the No. 1 pick in the 1997 NFL Draft, he decided to go back to college to try and win a title and a Heisman. The Volunteers made it to the SEC Championship Game and defeated Auburn in the game. The problem? Tennessee had once again lost to Florida, so the team was only ranked third heading into the bowls season. The Volunteers faced the second-ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers in the Orange Bowl, and a victory could have earned them a title. Instead, they lost. And on top of that, Manning ended up finishing second in the Heisman vote against Charles Woodson.
6 out of 20
Peyton picked first overall
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Famously, there was a debate over the 1998 NFL Draft’s No. 1 pick. Would the Indianapolis Colts take Manning, or would they take Ryan Leaf from Washington State? In the end, the Colts took Manning and Leaf went second behind the Chargers. Leaf is now remembered as one of the biggest busts of all time.
7 out of 20
A record and uneven rookie season
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The Colts put a lot of Peyton’s plate as a rookie, and while he was more than up to the task, there were ups and downs. This is perhaps best illustrated by two statistics. He set a new record for touchdown passes for a rookie quarterback with 26, but he also set the rookie records for interceptions with 28.
8 out of 20
Manning takes the plunge in season 2
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The 1999 season was a completely different situation for Manning and the Colts. The team improved in 10 games, going from 3-13 to 13-3 in the blink of an eye. Manning himself led the team to seven game-winning drives. Peyton made his first Pro Bowl, but the Colts lost to the Titans in the playoffs after a first-round bye.
9 out of 20
Peyton wins her first MVP
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After a few solid seasons and Pro Bowl appearances, Manning finally won his first MVP in 2003. Peyton completed more passes than any quarterback and finished with 4,267 yards and 29 touchdowns. Manning actually ended up sharing MVP with Steve McNair, but he still brought the material home.
10 out of 20
Peyton also has her first run with the Patriots
Manning won an MVP in the 2003 season, and the Colts won their first two playoff games. Next, they faced the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game. It was the first of many big matchups between Peyton and the Colts and Tom Brady and the Patriots. Unfortunately, Manning’s MVP pairing kept him from throwing four picks in a 24-14 loss.
11 out of 20
Manning breaks touchdown record and wins second MVP
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Peyton would bounce back quite well from that tough playoff loss. Manning had some incredible games, including throwing six touchdowns against the Lions at Thanksgiving, en route to finishing with a game-high 49 touchdowns to 10 interceptions. Peyton won MVP with 49 of 50 votes. Then, in the playoffs, the Colts once again lost to the Patriots.
12 out of 20
The Colts finally win the Super Bowl
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Peyton started the 2006 season against his brother Eli and the Giants, the first ever game with two brothers as starting quarterbacks. It ended with Manning lifting the Vince Lombardi Trophy for the first time. Although the Colts trailed the Patriots 21-3 in the AFC Championship Game, Manning led a comeback to make it to the Super Bowl where Indy managed the Chicago Bears.
13 out of 20
Peyton gets her third MVP
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In 2008, Manning led the Colts to at least 12 wins for the sixth straight season and threw for over 4,000 yards for the ninth time. It helped him earn his third MVP, tying Brett Favre for most of all time. The playoff race was brief that year, as the Colts lost to the Chargers in overtime in the first round. Tony Dungy retired and an era ended in Indianapolis.
14 out of 20
Manning wins another MVP and takes another trip to the Super Bowl
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Fortunately for the Colts, Manning proved more important to their success than Dungy. The Colts started the season winning 14 straight before losing the last two with starters resting. Peyton completed a career-high 68.8% of his passes en route to a record fourth MVP. Indianapolis returned to the Super Bowl, but suffered the loss to the New Orleans Saints.
15 out of 20
Injuries and end in Indianapolis
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Manning signed a new contract with the Colts before the 2011 season, but he would never return to the field for the team. Peyton underwent neck surgery in the offseason and afterward couldn’t complete his throwing motion. It turned out that Manning needed spinal fusion surgery and might never play again. Manning was ruled out for the season and released by the Colts in March 2012, paving the way for Andrew Luck.
16 out of 20
Manning joins the Broncos
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Despite concerns about his health, a few teams really wanted to sign Peyton in the 2012 offseason. Manning visited the Cardinals and Broncos, but Hall of Famer John Elway was able to convince Peyton to sign with Denver.
17 out of 20
Best season ever for a quarterback?
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It turned out that Manning could still play quarterback just fine. In 2012, he threw for 4,659 yards, 37 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. However, 2013 was the truly magical year in Denver. Peyton threw for a staggering 55 touchdowns and 5,477 yards, both NFL records. He won his fifth MVP and took the Broncos to the Super Bowl. Denver was wiped out by the Seattle Seahawks, but individually it was an incredible campaign.
18 out of 20
Peyton’s final season ends with a Super Bowl
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By 2015, Manning was no longer the quarterback he was. His arm had been diminished and he could no longer carry the team. Instead, the Broncos were a team built on defense. Manning could only play 10 regular season games and he threw for nine touchdowns against 17 interceptions. Peyton was the playoff quarterback, and he was just running the game. In the Super Bowl against the Carolina Panthers, Manning threw for just 176 yards, but two touchdowns and no picks. The Broncos won the Super Bowl.
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After 18 seasons, numerous surgeries and becoming the first quarterback to lead two different franchises to a Super Bowl victory as a starter, Manning saw the writing on the wall. Peyton retired after that Super Bowl win with Denver, finishing with 14 Pro Bowl appearances and seven First-Team All-Pro spots.
20 out of 20
Peyton the pitcher
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Manning may be retired, but you still see him all the time. In fact, it wasn’t uncommon to see Peyton off the football pitch even when he was playing. Manning has been a pitchman for numerous companies, appearing in advertisements left and right. There has also been a lot of talk about Peyton eventually becoming a broadcaster, but so far he seems happy to have shilling insurance and a pizza.