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No debate needed: The Hall of Fame case for Peyton Manning

When it comes to players like Peyton Manning, the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Selection Committee wastes little time.

It's become almost tradition for the few players of this caliber to receive very brief presentations.

It may have begun in 1993, when Cooper Rollow of the Chicago Tribune presented Walter Payton by simply saying his name and sitting down. Over the years, it's continued for a select few former players. Ira Kaufman gave a five-word presentation in 2000: "Ladies and gentlemen, Joe Montana." Four years later, Woody Paige managed to cut that down to four words for the Broncos' first Hall of Famer: "Gentlemen, respectfully, John Elway." Dan Marino's presentation took all of 15 seconds; Brett Favre's was timed at six seconds in 2016.

Manning will assuredly join this elite class when the Selection Committee convenes to "debate" his qualifications for the Hall of Fame.

Still, for the sake of respecting the process, let's review Manning's stellar career, which arguably helped shape the course of NFL history as he led historic and innovative passing attacks.

He began his career as the first-overall pick in the 1998 NFL Draft and proceeded to help the Colts reach the playoffs in 11 of the next 13 seasons.

During that span, Manning helped bring about a revolution in the way NFL teams approached offensive strategy and gamesmanship. The way he prepared for games allowed him to adjust plays at the line of scrimmage to best take advantage of what he saw from opposing defenses.

"There's no question that his work ethic is what made him into one of the great quarterbacks of all time," Elway said in 2016. "All the film study Peyton did and the process that he went through with game planning and understanding what the other teams did was second to none."

As the Colts capitalized on being more aggressive throwing the ball, Manning became the most productive passer the game had ever seen. To date, he is the only quarterback who has thrown for 4,000 yards in 11 of his first 13 seasons.

As a result, the Colts achieved remarkable team success. From 2003 to 2009, Indianapolis won no fewer than 12 games each season, and the Colts reached two Super Bowls, winning one.

Manning would miss the entire 2011 season because of a neck injury, and his time with the Colts ended when they released him after the season.

As a free agent, Manning received several suitors and opted to join the Broncos, who had a promising collection of offensive weapons and a strong defense. Though there was some concern about his health, he managed to maintain his stellar standard in Denver.

Over the next four years, Manning again helped his team win no fewer than 12 games each season. The Broncos made the playoffs each year, played in two Super Bowls and won the franchise's first Lombardi Trophy since the 1998 season.

He continued to push the envelope for NFL offenses during that time, particularly in 2013. That year, Manning set league records for passing yards and passing touchdowns, and the offense as a whole set records for most points scored and most touchdowns scored.

By the time it was all over, the quarterback left an indelible and enduring impact on the league. With the win in Super Bowl 50 to cap his career, he became the only quarterback to lead two different franchises to Super Bowl wins. At the time of his retirement, he was the league's all-time leader in passing touchdowns, passing yards and total wins.

"Peyton was such a spectacular player," Tom Brady said in 2020. "We had so many great games against him. To be on the other sideline, you just knew the margin of error was razor thin. He was a relentless competitor. And I think he had incredible expectation[s]. One thing I really admire — I felt like as a 199[th-overall] pick, I had a year where I could essentially just learn and play with no expectation. I mean, he was the first pick overall, he was probably the top-rated recruit in high school, and then ends up having the most prolific career of anybody that's ever played. I think that speaks a lot about him about expectation and meeting expectation, as well. Only he himself could really match his expectation; he was that type of athlete and competitor."

Manning remains the only player in league history to win MVP honors five times and is tied for the most Pro Bowl selections. In addition, he was a seven-time first-team All-Pro selection, Super Bowl XLI MVP, 2012 NFL Comeback Player of the Year, 2013 Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year, a member of the 2000s NFL All-Decade Team and one of the 10 quarterbacks selected for the NFL 100th Anniversary All-Time Team.

Few players have had careers as decorated as Manning, and soon he'll have the most respected individual honor a football player can achieve.

We already know that, and we know it won't take long.

Ladies and gentlemen, Peyton Manning.

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