When fans see or hear that quarterback Peyton Manning was named the AFC Offensive Player of the Week for the final regular season week of the National Football League season, there can be some temptation to treat this as routine news.
But there is nothing routine about greatness. Just because it happens a lot, that does not diminish it in any way.
John Elway once told me that the definition of greatness for a player is to be great some of the time, but really good all the rest of the time.
Easy to say, hard to do.
The Player of the Week Award announced Wednesday is the 23rd of Manning’s brilliant (yet probably understated) career. It ties him with Tom Brady for the most ever, each with that total of 23.
And it seems like old news to say that Manning finished the season with nearly every significant single season franchise record, including ranking first in Bronco history in completions (400), passing yards (4,659), completion percentage (68.6%), touchdowns (37) and passer rating (105.9).
Oh, and by the way, he only had 11 interceptions in 2012, making him the only quarterback in NFL history to have those combined statistics in a single season.
“One” is not a very long list.
Manning would be the first to cite his offensive line which protected him, and his receivers who caught the ball.
Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker became the seventh pair of receivers in Broncos history to each have 1,000 receiving yards — Thomas had 1,434 and Decker’s total was 1,064. Thomas had the third highest yardage total in team history, and Decker’s 21 TD catches in the past two years give him the highest two-year total ever for Denver.
So Manning had plenty of help, but let us not hesitate to heap praise on him just because he is very modest and includes all teammates in his success.
What he has done is just crazy, particularly in that he is coming off a year in which he did not play, with multiple surgeries in that time frame, playing for a new team, with new teammates, terminology and coaches, in a new city, moving his wife and young children to a new environment.
This is absolutely unprecedented, and without any question worthy of his being named the NFL Most Valuable Player.
Also, just consider that his 23 Conference Player of the Week awards not only tie for the most ever in the history of the award, but are more than several players who concluded their careers playing a total of two or more seasons more than Manning has thus far.
He has done this in 14 years, and as an example, John Elway, who without any question occupies the same spot in the quarterback pantheon as does Manning, was named the Conference Player of the Week 15 times during his 16-year career.
Watching Peyton Manning is like watching Halley’s Comet, with the big difference that Halley’s Comet is visible from earth every 75 years or so, and Manning is visible to Denver Broncos fans every single week of the season.
And when we talk about this team being very high in the areas of focus, planning and preparation, Manning sets the standard with those qualities as well.
So fans should prepare for what they need to do in the playoffs to support the team and be great fans, while not losing sight of the greatness in our midst.