When the name Peyton Manning is mentioned, almost anyone would recognize him as an NFL football player and many would know him as an elite quarterback that broke records left and right; however, few recognize the major impact he has left on the game of football. From the time Peyton Manning began playing footballI, he was different, he was not very athletic and his passing skills were not exactly perfect; yet somehow, he was a step above everyone else on the field. It appeared as if he knew the play the defense was going to run before the ball was even hiked, that’s because most of the time he did. Peyton
Manning used his arm and his mind to forever change how the game of football is played. Generally speaking, quarterback, it is the most difficult position on the field to play. A quarterback must have a strong and accurate arm, a quick release on the ball, and exceptional chemistry with his receivers, and be able to avoid defenders coming from all sides. The question can be raised, what if the quarterback does not have all the physical gifts such as a strong and accurate arm, or the ability to make defenders miss? That is exactly the case with Peyton Manning. Many scouts said he was not athletic enough to make it in the
NFL. One scout particular commented, “He’s a self-made player, let’s put it that way. I don’t know how much better he’s going to get” (McGinn). The scouts were worried Manning’s lack of athleticism would limit his career and keep him from becoming an extraordinary quarterback. Peyton was determined to prove everyone wrong and he did so by taking an unseen approach and outsmarting everyone on and off the field. It started with off the field preparation; Peyton would acquire as many tapes as possible from the opposing team he was facing each week and begin to study them. This is where Peyton began to change the game.
He would dissect every tape, every last painstaking play during a team’s game, watching for hand signals, code words, and special defensive formations -he would study the tendency of every defensive player on the field (Feldman). He wanted to know what kind of plays the opposing team stopped and what plays they tended to give up. In college his coach gave an example of this saying, “Such as the time Moffitt heard a tap on the window to his office. Manning was outside. He needed help. Said he had a bunch of VHS tapes in his SUV that needed to go upstairs. It was jammed with tapes of every practice, every game, and every opponent.
Tight copies. Wide copies. End zone copies. Four years of film study” (Feldman). Eventually, after studying hours of game tape, Peyton would begin on field practices. Peyton’s on field practices were as unique as his off field preparations- practice would not just consist of walk- throughs, his practices were not slow paced, in fact some former teammates said his practices were more difficult than the games. The weekly meetings with his coaches and other quarterbacks were very detailed, and Manning would write down everything that was said word for word; he would even test the other quarterbacks to make sure they were listening.
During practice if something did not look perfect in Manning’s eyes, he would make his entire offense redo the play or drill until they got it right. He would pull his receivers to the side and make them run routes over and over again until the timing was perfect. When asked about Peyton Manning’s attention to detail, backup quarterback Brock Huard said, “It’s a maniacal approach to the level of detail that separates him from the rest” (Jones). Peyton Manning’s studious efforts off the field were paying off considerably, but there was one final touch he liked to add before each game that further distanced him from everyone else on the field.
Overall, Peyton Manning was never content with the preparation he had done, if there was ever an opportunity for more, he would be sure to take advantage of that. One way he would sneak extra preparation in without anyone knowing was during the training camps in the off- season. After a long day on the field training Peyton would be flocked by reporters asking question after question, but Manning soon figured out these reporters had been to training camps all over the NFL, and he used that to his advantage (King).
He would question the reporters, dig for any bit of information on other teams that he could get. One reporter even said “Every ear on my training camp trip, if I had a visit to see Manning’s team with in Indiana or Colorado, I’d try to make it late. Because if Manning gave me 45 minutes after practices to talk, 15 of those minutes would be him grilling me on what l’d seen in all the camps along the way” (King). All of his prep work in the off- season and each week during the regular season became evident as longstanding records began to fall and football soon changed in a way never before seen.
When Peyton Manning entered the NFL in 1998, it was a run first, pass second kind of league. In fact, the NFL is completely opposite of what it once as before Peyton Manning had his chance to make a mark. The slow ground and pound offense the NFL had previously been known for did not work for Peyton; he used a fast paced hurry up offense that nobody had ever seen consistently used in the NFL before. The fast pace exhausted the defense and gave them little time to react, which resulted in Manning rarely getting sacked, and posting a ridiculously low 3. 3% sack rate through his entire career (Barnwell).
He also began throwing the ball on first down at a rate of about 50%, which was much higher than the rest of the league at that time (Barnwell). In his irst few years in the NFL, Peyton Manning was able to identify ways to change the game by using his mind and arm, as his career advanced; he continued to cause headaches for defenses. Ultimately, Peyton Manning’s high speed, mostly passing offense, changed the game for quarterbacks who once counted on running backs to carry their offense.
Thanks to Manning, teams now rely on quarterbacks to pass for over four thousand yards every season a number that only two quarterbacks reached in 1998. Manning made four thousand yards a necessary number and now nearly half of the NFL quarterbacks reach that number and several eclipse five housand yards on a yearly basis. A current football great Tom Brady said, “He’s done it so gracefully, so admirably. He set the standard for how to play the quarterback position” (King).
Another current great, Russell Wilson said, “You inspired me to work hard. To be disciplined. To be respectful. To take notes. You inspired me to love the process” (Schneier). To hear that from players like Tom Brady and Russell Wilson that will without a doubt be inducted into the Football Hall of Fame, clearly demonstrates that Peyton Manning has inspired other quarterbacks to prepare and play just as he did. In summary, Peyton Manning used his arm and his mind to forever change how the game of football is played.
From hours of tape watching, to intense meetings, picking the brains of reporters, and perfecting every practice, his work ethic on and off the field led to his spectacular career. His contributions to the game have inspired many current and future quarterbacks that will have to attempt to break the long list of records he owns. The NFL has benefited from Peyton Manning because the game of football is now more competitive and exciting which has lured in fans from across the world; there is no doubt the game will never be the same.