Emmanuel Sanders inexplicably made waves at training camp with the Broncos when he said that Peyton Manning is a better leader than Ben Roethlisberger. This is news, because of course this is going to be news in Pittsburgh. We are perpetually slighted in this town, and when Sanders makes that kind of comment, there are a lot of people who will take that as an attack on Ben Roethlisberger. When I saw the headline, I thought it was too.
Let’s hold up for a second. Sanders’ focus, in the quote provided, is that Peyton Manning works with Sanders and fellow rookie Cody Latimer after every practice. He makes time for his receivers to make sure they are going to be on the same page in every situation. That’s a thing you would expect Peyton Manning to do. So let’s talk about Peyton.
I believe that Peyton Manning is the best quarterback who has ever played in the NFL.
I’ll justify that. First thing’s first, get rid of every quarterback who played before like, the 80s. Athletes get better as time goes on, and Sid Luckman’s ability to actually throw a football is no better than, say, Brian Griese’s. (Remember him? Didn’t think so.) If you think historical players still stack up, then Don Hutson is the greatest football player ever and it isn’t close. (Tip: Adrian Peterson is better at football than Red Grange.)
So of the modern era, what makes Peyton the best quarterback in my eyes? Is it championships? Well, no, because Jeff Hostetler, Trent Dilfer, and Brad Johnson all won Super Bowls, and none of them are as good at football as Colin Kaepernick is. It certainly can’t be Peyton’s athleticism. Watching him run is embarrassing. And bless your heart if you ever have to watch him try to make a tackle on a fumble return or something.
No, the thing that separates Manning from the rest of the pack is his brain. He is always in complete control of his offense. He knows how to call plays, he knows how to read defenses, he knows how to adjust his game plan, and he knows how to communicate everything he’s thinking with every one of his teammates on the field. His ability to do that is tied to his incredible dedication to his craft and the time he puts in to make sure his receivers are right there with him.
So when Emmanuel Sanders talks about how great Manning is at what he does, he isn’t saying that Ben Roethlisberger isn’t good enough to lead a team to a championship or anything like that. He’s just pointing out a thing that is true.