In August, Peyton Manning will be enshrined for eternity in the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a member of the class of 2021. That came as no surprise as Manning was always expected to be a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer.
Ascending to the Denver Broncos Ring of Fame was as fait accompli as Canton, OH. The minimum requirement for Denver's RoF is four years with the club, which was exactly how many years 'The Sheriff' donned the Orange and Blue after his 14-year career with the Indianapolis Colts.
On Wednesday, the Broncos announced that Manning has been elected to the team's Ring of Fame.
Manning's accomplishments over that four-year tenure in Denver are astounding. He led the Broncos to an AFC West crown in each season, three playoff wins, two Super Bowl berths, and a World Championship.
Manning debuted as a Bronco in 2012 after the Colts had released him due to his advancing age and the effects of a frightening neck injury that required four surgeries to repair. He diligently worked back from the brink and although he got off to a somewhat rough start (relative to Manning's standards), he soon caught fire when he led the Broncos on a 24-point come-from-behind win over the (then) San Diego Chargers on Monday Night Football, sparking an 11-game winning streak.
The Broncos were upset in the Divisional Round of the playoffs that year by the eventual Super Bowl-champion Baltimore Ravens, but Manning returned the next year all the hungrier. Although his 2012 body of work was MVP-caliber, he ultimately lost out to Adrian Peterson, who'd rushed for 2,000-plus yards one year removed from tearing his ACL. Manning had to settle for Comeback Player of the Year and yet another Pro Bowl/All-Pro nod.
In 2013, Manning broke nearly every NFL single-season passing record on the way to earning his record fifth league MVP award, finishing with 5,477 yards and 55 touchdowns. The Broncos' 606 points scored that season remains the all-time record in the NFL.
The Broncos averaged 457.3 yards per game (1st), while Manning passed for 340.2 YPG (1st). Nearly as astonishing as Denver's aerial attack was the fact that the team also fielded a top-15 rushing attack (117.1 YPG), while averaging a whopping 37.9 points per game (1st).
Alas, Manning and company were disappointed in Super Bowl XLVIII as the Broncos fell to the Seattle Seahawks 43-8, but the crushing defeat only further fueled the aging QB. Then-GM John Elway was also motivated by the loss, undergoing a mighty change of heart that sparked the construction of the greatest defense of its era.
Manning's 2014 campaign wasn't as prolific as his MVP run but it saw the Broncos replace Eric Decker with Emmanuel Sanders at wide receiver. Manning still surpassed 4,700 yards passing and tossed 39 touchdowns on the way to yet another disappointing defeat in the Divisional Round, this time by his former team led by Andrew Luck.
In 2015, everything came together for the Broncos as Gary Kubiak took over head-coaching duties from the dispatched John Fox. While Manning suffered a foot injury that cost him seven starts, and posted the worst numbers of his career (outside of his rookie campaign), the Broncos were built to win by virtue of Kubiak's prolific zone-blocking rushing attack and the team's tip of the spear: Wade Phillips' defense.
Manning returned in the season finale in relief of Brock Osweiler to bring the Broncos back in the second half, defeating the Chargers and securing the No. 1 playoff seed in the AFC. After cutting through fellow future Hall-of-Fame QBs like Ben Roethlisberger and Tom Brady in the playoffs, Manning's Broncos made it to Super Bowl 50 to face a Carolina Panthers squad led by the NFL MVP Cam Newton.
Despite brutalizing all comers in the NFC playoff gauntlet, Newton and company quickly realized they'd run head-long into the buzzsaw that was the Broncos' defense. Although Manning's numbers in Super Bowl 50 were solid if unspectacular, he played an efficient brand of quarterbacking as Von Miller and company decimated the Panthers and the Broncos emerged victorious 24-10.
Following the triumph of becoming the first QB in NFL history to start and win a Super Bowl with two separate clubs, Manning hung up his cleats just shy of his 40th birthday with 18 NFL seasons under his belt. It was a whirlwind and four-year romp of success that was unprecedented for a transplanted quarterback joining a new team at age 36.
As a Bronco, Manning was elected to the Pro Bowl in three of the four years and was voted a first-team All-Pro twice. The man continued stacking accolades as he led the Broncos back to prominence in the national spotlight.
Team president Joe Ellis provided a statement on Manning's election to the Broncos' Ring of Fame and what he meant and still means to the Mile High Faithful.
“When Peyton arrived in 2012, his impact and standard was felt throughout our team, the entire organization and in the community. Coming back from a serious injury—with a new team in a new city—to not only win MVP but to have one of the greatest single seasons ever by any player was a remarkable feat.
“Peyton defined greatness as a Bronco. We’re thrilled that he will now join the other Broncos legends as our newest Ring of Famer.”
Manning’s RoF induction ceremony will take place during the Broncos’ Week 8 game against the Washington Football Team on Sunday, October 31, at Empower Field at Mile High.
After the Colts elected Manning to their RoF in 2017, Manning now joins an elite list of players enshrined in the Ring of Fame/Honor with two different NFL clubs. He's also a member of the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame (2018), the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame (2019), and the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame (2019).
To this day, Manning's influence is felt in Denver. Just this past offseason, the NFL's only five-time MVP took current Broncos starting QB Drew Lock under his wing for 9-10 hours' worth of intensive film study in Manning's home and the 14-time Pro Bowler still maintains his primary residence in Denver.
Hats off to the Sheriff.
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