The legacy of Peyton Manning

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If you are from the state of Indiana, you have heard the name Peyton Manning at least once or twice in your lifetime.

For just over a decade, the man who held the quarterback position for the Indianapolis Colts helped cultivate a love for football throughout the Hoosier state. When he was released by the Colts in 2012, he left the city of Indianapolis more beautiful and improved than it was before he arrived, simply because of the impact he had on this community on and off the field.

Peyton suited up on Oct. 19 with his current team, the Denver Broncos, to host the San Francisco 49’ers on Sunday Night Football, but this was no ordinary night for the 17-year professional quarterback.

On that night, he had the historical opportunity to seize the record of most passing touchdowns by a quarterback in National Football League history, which had been held by former professional quarterback, Brett Favre with 508.

In the second quarter of that game, Peyton took advantage of the opportunity on an 8-yard touchdown pass, providing him with the all-time record at 509 and adding to his already illustrious resume of other records, championships and individual awards.

It was truly a special night for one of the most beloved athletes the world has ever seen.

As a long-time fan of Peyton, I have watched him play nearly his entire career and I must admit that at first I did not feel the same excitement that I should have when he broke the record.

Over and over again, any fan of Peyton or the Indianapolis Colts has seen this professional break multiple records throughout his career.

We have become so accustomed to seeing him break records, that it just never had quite the same excitement as it did early in his career, such as when he broke former professional quarterback Dan Marino’s record of 48 total touchdown passes in a single season.

We were spoiled by his greatness on the field, and like me, some fans just never learned to truly appreciate what was taking place in front of their very eyes.

After sitting back and thinking later that night about what Peyton had done I began to truly realize that we may not experience moments such as this for a long time.

Just thinking about all of the touchdown passes I had witnessed him throw throughout his career while donning the horseshoe, I began to realize and appreciate the long road he traveled to reach that one moment on Sunday Night Football.

It took 17 years to accomplish, and that was with someone even as great as Peyton, which just shows how difficult of a milestone it was to achieve. It was at that moment I honestly appreciated what I had witnessed.

The culmination of 17 years of hard work, all for one single moment we may never see again, at least for a while.

Despite his lack of Super Bowl rings, no one can ever deny the impact that Peyton has had on the sport of football.

He is a prominent example of professionalism, handling his business on and off the field with the utmost class and dignity.

He left his mark on the game through years of records, championships, and individual awards but always remained humble and focused on what he could accomplish next for his team.

He is the leader every professional sports team desires, a role model that parents want their children to follow, and a defining example of the American dream that through hard work and dedication, you can achieve anything you set your mind to.

It is hard to predict when we will ever see another quarterback as special as Peyton in our lifetime.

Quarterbacks like him, Joe Montana, Tom Brady,  John Elway and Dan Marino only appear in rare instances, because in the NFL, to remain consistently successful every year throughout your career is probably one of the most difficult tasks in the world.

Maybe we are witnessing the rise of another young man who could potentially reach that status in Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck. Luck is currently, in just his third year, on pace to break Peyton’s record of most passing yards in a season.

Time will tell whether Luck can enshrine himself in such elite company, but one thing remains certain. There will never be another Peyton Manning

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