Denver Broncos: John Elway or Peyton Manning?

By Seth Carson
March 20, 2013 2:16 pm
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It's time to get the comparisons ready, and where's a better place to start than the Denver Broncos?  When discussing each from an overall career standpoint, it's not easy to make a decision, they are both Hall Of Fame quarterbacks.  Manning is a definite shoe in for the Hall Of Fame once he retires, and in his first season as a Broncos quarterback, he nearly led the team to the Super Bowl.

Elway retired in 1999 and statistically was the second most prolific passer in NFL history. Elway led his teams to six AFC Championship Games and five Super Bowls, winning his last two.  Elway set several career records for passing attempts and completions while at Stanford. He also received All-American honors. Elway was drafted #1 overall in the 1983 Draft by the Baltimore before being traded to the Denver Broncos.

In 1987, he embarked on what is considered to be one of the most clutch and iconic performances in sports and in NFL history, helping engineer the Broncos on a 98-yard, game-tying touchdown drive in the AFC Championship Game against the Cleveland Browns. The moment is known throughout the league as "The Drive."  Following the AFC Championship Game, Elway and the Broncos lost in Super Bowl XXI to the New York Giants.  It would be the first of a record five Super Bowl starts at quarterback in Elway's career, a record that he solely held until 2012 when Tom Brady earned his fifth Super Bowl start.

Manning played college ball for the University Of Tennessee leading the Volunteers to the 1997 SEC Championship in his senior season. However, No. 3 Tennessee lost to the No. 2 Nebraska 'Huskers42-17 in the Orange Bowl giving Nebraska and Tom Osborne their 3rd national championship in 4 years.

He was chosen by the Indianapolis Colts with the top overall pick in the 1998 NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts From 1998 to 2010, he led the Colts to eight (seven AFC South and one AFC East) division championships, two AFC championships, and to a Super Bowl Championship.  He has won a record four league most valuable player awards,was the most valuable player of Super Bowl XLI, has been named to twelve Prowl Bowls has twelve 4,000-yard passing seasons, and is the Indianapolis Colts' all-time leader in passing yards (54,828) and touchdown passes (399). In 2009, he was named the best player in the NFLand Fox Sports along with Sports Illustrated named him the NFL player of the decade of the 2000s.

So, who has enjoyed the best career in a Broncos uniform?  Feel free to use the comment section to voice your opinion.

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By Seth Carson
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15 months ago
I vote for Elway. I am biased I will admit. I was a Bronco fan since 1970 when we moved to Denver, and never once faltered. There were times when I was angered, but I still was probably one of their number one fan's. When Elway came, we all went crazy for sure. But he delivered in many ways. He was a classy, gentleman, who always held up the team, and never blamed them for passes that went wrong, or runs that didn't develop the way that was planned. Year by year, Elway led the Broncos to divisional championships, and then the Super Bowl. He of course finally struck pay dirt not once but back to back. I really think that he was the best of the best, as so many times he litteraly carried the team on his shoulders, bringing them to championship after championship. I never have liked Manning. It has been very difficult for me to watch him move to Denver and it just is not the same thing for me now. I was also angered over the way they handled the Tebow affair, and still have that against Elway, who of course was the one who did most of that. I wish them well, and will root for them if they are against any team but the Texans (my team now), or if Tebow gets traded to some team who will play him. I believe that a real champion is one who has more than a good or even great throwing arm or fast legs etc., there is something else that works inside, and Elway had it and Tebow has it.
So Elway gets my vote for the best ever in a Broncos uniform.
6 months ago
Let's get real: can Peyton Manning do what John Elway could do as a quarterback? No. Could John Elway do what Peyton Manning could do, and ten times more, as a quarterback? Yes. Then John Elway was clearly the superior quarterback to Peyton Manning. Statistics? Elway's 10 wasted years in Dan Reeves' offense cost him 3,000 yards per year. Elway would have over 80,000 career passing yards, and probably two or three more Super Bowls if he had played in at least a period-normal offense. Elway would own every record, hands down, and would be far ahead. No one would come near those records. John Elway was the greatest talent to ever play that position. There has never been anyone like that at quarterback. Peyton Manning is great, great, but not like John Elway. Forget stats; that doesn't tell the story. Elway faced impossible expectations from day one, including everyone in football knowing he was the greatest talent to ever suit up at the position. You can forget trying to compare others to him, because there isn't one like him. Can Manning scramble like Elway? Can Brady? Can Drew Brees? Has the ever been an arm like Elways? You can't look at a stat sheet and judge the best quarterback. You've got to look at the game and see what's going on and see what the player creates and executes. No one can come near John Elway's ability to make the plays. Wasn't it Pat Summerall who captured what Elway was truly like: "the master of the inconceivable pass thrown to the unreachable spot." That was John Elway. Don't kid yourself about comparing anyone else to that guy. He was the all-time greatest at the position, hands down. Nobody else is close.
6 months ago
And about the Tim Tebow non-sense, Tim Tebow is a wonderful person but lacks the talent to play quarterback in the NFL. John Elway knew this, and acted as he should have for the organization. It's nothing personal; it's just that Tebow cannot do it. Elway is not only the greatest quarterback in the history of football, but also a bright and good person. He's done great things for Denver, and for football. I guess it's just always amazed me that people apparently could not fully see this guy's quarterbacking talent. It's just hard to describe. He had a flow and movement, and could do anything. He could make quick decisions and had incredible accuracy like all of the "accurate" quarterbacks: Montana, Brees, Manning, et al. But then he could go creative on you and just blow you away with astounding athletic moves and throws that were just constantly exceptional. I've never seen a quarterback--pardon the pun--so complete in every facet of quarterbacking. It's interesting that the number 7 means "complete" in theological language. John Elway was just the complete quarterback in every aspect. He was super mobile and quick, elusive, yet also a great pocket passer, incredible arm strength---he could make any throw from anywhere on the field, whether a two-yard "Joe Montana/Steve Young special" or a 40-yard frozen rope, or a 70-yard bomb. He could just do anything anywhere at anytime on the field, which is unlike any quarterback I've ever seen. Could Tom Brady do that? No way. Drew Brees is a great, great quarterback, but he needs a system to help him, just as Montana did. Marino? Great, great quarterback, but could he scramble and improvise? No way. Without a pocket, he was dead. Same with Troy Aikman. What if Peyton Manning had to scramble? No chance. Brett Favre was tough as nails, but also extremely mistake prone. Despite all of his creativity and risk, Elway made relatively few mistakes. He was a responsible quarterback who also made high percentage passes. He was extremely durable, taking all those sacks and doing all of that creating and yet rarely getting hurt or missing a game. He was precise---he could stick it in any window anywhere on the field at any time. And he looked good doing it, with those pigeon toes and just a natural athleticism that made him look fluid and natural at all times; he was not a constructed player in any sense, but just a total natural in every way. Can you say that about Peyton Manning, with his chop chop footwork? He's nowhere near the athlete John Elway was. Or Tom Brady? Tom Brady can't run. Elway's artistry was also the best the game has ever seen; the most poetic quarterback to ever play. To those who say he can't run like Michael Vick or Vince Young or those running guys, I say that's because those guys aren't really quarterbacks; they're running backs trying to play quarterback. I'm talking THE quarterback here, and John Elway was THE quarterback. I just don't understand why people could not see all of this. Elways was the greatest ever. Period.

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