With 510 passes into the end zone, Peyton Manning stands alone as the NFL's all-time touchdown king. With five league MVP trophies to his name, he is the only player ever to have won a quintet of the prestigious award.
With 66,812 passing yards to his name he is, by far, the NFL's most prolific passer amongst active quarterbacks.
But while Manning's stats scream glamor, his persona does not. Read any story about people who have had a personal experience with the record-breaking star, a man who has everything to brag about, and what you'll find are anecdote's about a guy who does anything but.
Here are 9 stories that show Peyton Manning for the humble legend he is:
He Refused To Take Credit After His Best Performance Ever
During the NFL's 2013 Thursday Night season opener, Manning threw seven touchdowns against the then Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens.
So what did he do after accomplishing arguably his best performance ever in such a high-profile game?
He dodged every opportunity to take credit. Yahoo!'s Frank Schwab detailed the impressive bob-and-weave from Manning:
Attempt No. 1: "Is that the best game of your career?"
Manning: "I don't know. I guess I haven't had a whole lot of time to think about it. Our offensive line did a great job protecting against a tough bunch up front ..."
Attempt No. 2: "Did you think seven touchdowns was possible in a NFL game, considering it has been 44 years?"
Manning: "Yeah, Joe Kapp, great Canadian quarterback out of Cal. Kicked the crap out of a guy on YouTube a couple years ago."
Attempt No. 3: "You've had many magical days and nights in your career, but do you understand the magnitude of this?"
Manning: "It was a great team win."
He Praised The Indianapolis Colts Organization, Despite Being Pushed Out The Door
By 2012, Manning had given the franchise four MVP seasons, a Super Bowl and a 2nd-all-time 208 consecutive starts before missing the 2011 season after having neck surgery.
Still, the Colts decided to get rid of Manning, a living legend, in favor of Andrew Luck, a talented prospect but nonetheless unproven commodity. Despite having the grounds to be enraged, Manning participated in his own farewell press conference with typical class.
We all know that nothing lasts forever. Times change, circumstances change, and that's the reality of playing in the NFL.... But I'll always be a Colt. I always will be. That'll never change.
He even spared sympathy for Colts owner Jim Irsay, who was essentially the one booting Manning out of Indy.
This has not been easy for Jim. and this has certainly not been easy for me.
He Enjoys The Preparation For Games As Much As The Games
With the glitz, glamor and bright lights of game day, Peyton Manning equates the joy of working towards succeeding on those occasions in the first place. When asked about the idea of retirement, in fact, it is Manning's love of practicing that gets brought up.
Manning said before last year's Super Bowl:
I still enjoy the preparation part of it, that work part of it. Everybody enjoys the games, everybody's going to be excited about the Super Bowl. But I think when you still enjoy the preparation, the work part of it, I think you probably still aught to be doing that.
He Works To Prove Himself Like He Is A Rookie
Perhaps Peyton's biggest attribute is his relentless desire to improve himself.
The man who people describe as an offensive coordinator, the man who Kobe says he can't live up to and to whom Tom Brady concedes the title of best QB, is always noted for dedication for going out of his way to correct his own mistakes.
He's always on the iPad reviewing plays, always watching film, consistently coming into the work place early, always finding a way to turn extra time into practice time, his colleagues say.
One of those colleagues, Demaryius Thomas, might have described him perfectly:
He's in there taking notes like any rookie. He's in there taking notes, watching film, correcting things and that's what makes him special.
Many Of His Charity Contributions Are Unannounced
Peyton Manning's philanthropic efforts are both well noted and under-covered.
He's made multi-million dollar donations, paid for college students' tuition, helped save abused children's, handed out hundreds of Thanksgiving meals to families and given such generous-yet-undisclosed gift to a children's hospital that it was renamed after him.
Even then, people who really know of what Manning does for communities near and dear to him say that isn't half the story.
In contributing to a Denver Post feature on Manning, Indianapolis Star columnist Bob Kravitz said:
Whatever you read about, he does 10, 20, 30 times more things that you never read about. I can't tell you the number of e-mails I've gotten from people who said that Peyton did this, that or the other thing for a child or for a sick person that never made the newspaper, that wasn't part of the PeyBack Foundation, that was just a random act of kindness.
He Is Just As Classy In Defeat As He Is In Victory
After swallowing his most embarrassing loss ever -- a 43-8 Super Bowl defeat to the Seattle Seahawks in the this past February -- Manning went out of his way to check on the opposing team's most polarizing players, Richard Sherman, after the cornerback had injured his ankle during the game.
Sherman was awestruck by Manning's class, considering the circumstances, and was quoted as saying by Pro Football Talk:
He was really concerned about my well-being. After a game like that, a guy who’s still classy enough to say ‘How are you doing?’ To show that kind of concern for an opponent shows a lot of humility and class.
Peyton is the Classiest person/player I have ever met! I could learn so much from him! Thank you for being a great Competitor and person — Richard Sherman (@RSherman_25) February 3, 2014
And That's What Inspires People The Most
Manning might have failed miserably in his attempt to win his second ring during last season's Super Bowl, but it is that defeat that prompted one of his greatest fans to express why she loved him so much.
It is telling that for an athlete who has all the stats in the world, none of them were mentioned in this letter, which drew attention from TV stations and newspapers across the country.
Mr. Manning, whether you win another game, your accomplishments in football are nothing short of remarkable. I want you to know that this mom of two young boys (who already recognize you’re different from the others) believes your legacy has never been stronger. Legacy is something handed down that matters. It is something that matters to young players and athletes and kids looking for mentors to help them find their way. You hand down examples of work ethic, of courage to come back after a career threatening injury. Of humility in victory and graciousness in defeat.
The full transcript of the viral letter is here.
When He Was The Third-String QB At Tennessee, He Essentially Became The Film Boy
Believe it or not, but there was a time when Peyton Manning was not a starting quarterback.
During his freshman year at Tennessee, Manning was the third-string quarterback on the Volunteers Depth Chart. So what was he going to do? Study like crazy, of course.
Of the summer "break" before Manning's freshman year, Tennessee sports technology coordinator Joe Harrington told the New York Post:
That whole summer he loved going through the archives. He would pull tape and go to a meeting room or I would dub them onto a VHS tape for him to take home. He started watching right away. He really got into it. He was like, ‘This is awesome.’ He was the first player that ever showed any interest in the work that I do.
There is even a story of Manning being more prepared than Harrington himself. When Tennessee traveled to California to play UCLA in 1994, Harrington had only brought tapes from UCLA's last three games of the '93 season.
The Volunteers' head coach, all of the sudden, wanted to show the team video from a game that preceded the ones that Harrington brought.
Guess who was the only one that brought that tape to study during the trip...
His Idea Of Celebrating His Accomplishments Was Thanking Everyone Else
In football, every individual record is a team effort. #Peyton509#WinFromWithinpic.twitter.com/ebKYYstXTX — Gatorade (@Gatorade) October 20, 2014
Top Photo Courtesy: Twitter