DENVER —** With the 509th touchdown of Peyton Manning's career coming in the second quarter against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday night, some of the NFL's greatest players reached out to congratulate Manning on his accomplishment.
"Nobody has ever played the quarterback position better than you have. It's been a pleasure to sit back every Sunday and watch you play," Fran Tarkenton said. "People love to debate who's the greatest quarterback, the greatest player — and it's impossible to compare across all the generations and eras. But I know this: Nobody can ever leave Peyton Manning out of that discussion about who's the greatest quarterback."
His coach from his Colts days, Tony Dungy, added: "I couldn't be more proud of you. I still think back to 12 years ago: the first one I saw live: a quick short pass to Qadry Ismail. I remember saying, 'Boy, this is going to be a lot of fun.' And little did I know at that time that you'd throw 397 more and break this record. But I know it's not over. I hope you throw a couple hundred more touchdown passes as a Bronco."
The previous record-holder, Brett Favre, had set the NFL benchmark at 508. He chimed in to offer some kind words. "I'm not surprised. You've been a wonderful player and I've enjoyed watching you play. I've enjoyed competing against you. I wish you great success for the rest of the season and the rest of your career."
And with Manning passing Favre, the all-time record moves just one state over from a Mississippi native Favre to Louisiana native Manning. "I'm happy that a southern boy still holds the record," Y.A. Tittle said.
Manning's peers also expressed their respect for his accomplishment and storied career.
"What an incredible accomplishment," former Colts lineman Jeff Saturday said. "It was an honor to play with you and be a part of those touchdowns. Not only are you a great football player, but a better friend."
"It's an incredible feat," Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. "The way you conduct yourself on and off the field speaks volumes about the amount of respect that you have among the fans, your teammates, your coaches and your peers like myself. I'm proud to know you, proud to compete against you and it's an incredible record."
Drew Brees expounded upon his kind words, saying: "You continue to set the bar for the rest of us and you epitomize what it is to be a quarterback and a leader in this league, and we thank you for that."