I suppose the headline gives it all away. On Sunday, Peyton Manning threw four touchdown passes, moving him past Brett Favre into first place on the all-time passing touchdown list. Manning now has 510 touchdown passes, and will continue to add to it this season, and who knows how much further along.
While plenty of records are meant to be broken, Manning could put this one pretty far out of reach. Among active players, Manning is currently 136 touchdowns ahead of Drew Brees, and 138 ahead of Tom Brady. The closest quarterbacks under 30 are Matt Ryan (166 TDs) and Joe Flacco (135 TDs). Both are 29. Aaron Rodgers has 206, but is already 31. The league continues to change the rules in favor of offensive performance, so anything is possible, but it will be some time before anybody surpasses Manning's touchdown total.
On Monday, ESPN's NFL twitter account sent out this little gem of a tweet:
Peyton Manning has more TD passes than Steve Young (232) and Joe Montana (273) COMBINED! pic.twitter.com/EnchXHFP4F— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) October 20, 2014
That is a factual tweet, and I decided to follow up with my own factual tweet:
Montana has more rings than Eli and Peyton COMBINED! MT @ESPNNFL Manning has more TDs than Steve Young (232), Joe Montana (273) COMBINED!— Niners Nation (@NinersNation) October 20, 2014
The NFL has changed rules quite a bit over the last decade, and Manning's stats are likely inflated to some extent because of that. However, I also think that Manning would have been a great quarterback in most any era. Maybe he wouldn't put up 500+ touchdowns, but I think he has the skillset to compete at any point.
That being said, I still would take Joe Montana if I needed someone to drive 80 yards in the closing minutes of the Super Bowl. Manning has a Super Bowl ring to his credit, and is a great quarterback. Joe Montana does not have the career stats of many of the all-time greats, but I think we all would take him when it mattered most.
I'm preaching to the choir hear, but I enjoy saying it nonetheless given all the talk about Manning in recent days. Manning is completely deserving of praise for his body of work, but we can all come up with our own definition for "greatest of all time." From a purely statistical standpoint, Peyton Manning has greatest of all time numbers. That doesn't make him the greatest of all time in my book, but he's certainly an interesting part of the conversation.