Sideline Report: The greatest regular season quarterback ever finally calls it quits

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Braden Shaw, JagWire editor-in-chief

Finally, after 18 years, Peyton Manning is done playing football. He officially announced his retirement on Monday, ending the era of “The Sheriff” and forcing us to reminisce and remember a surefire first-ballot hall of fame career.  

From his humble beginnings as one of the sons of former NFL quarterback Archie Manning to his stellar career at the University of Tennessee to his amazing professional career, Peyton has impressed. He was seemingly always in the conversation for MVP as long as he was healthy and continually put his team in a position to contend for a championship.

Peyton Manning will go down as one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time. He finished his career with 200 career wins, 5 MVP awards and two Super Bowl wins. He continued to perform at a high level as both a member of the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos. Even when people doubted him, Peyton managed to consistently prove that he is one of the best we’ve ever seen.

Not only did he impress statistically, he revitalized the NFL in both Indianapolis and in general. When Peyton was drafted back in 1998, Indianapolis was a basketball town. Once he grew into an elite quarterback, Peyton changed the culture of the area and made the Colts of all teams a force to be reckoned with.

But behind his greatness on the field, he was one of the most respectable athletes I’ve ever seen. In an age of vanity and a “look at me” attitude, Peyton let his play do the talking. Even if you hate his team — like the Broncos — you have to respect Peyton as an athlete and a person. He made charitable donations a priority and even got a hospital named after him. The guy is just amazing.

He exuded what it meant to be a professional athlete, and was surely a role model for countless athletes in multiple sports. He is extremely charismatic — just check out his work on Saturday Night Live — and is one of the best athletes out there from a marketing perspective. He is an expert at fanservice and will more than likely continue to pop on your TVs through commercials or maybe a guest appearance on SNL or another show.

However, he has had his low points. He missed the entire 2011 season due to a neck surgery and had a painful split with the Indianapolis Colts. His final season was also less than stellar, including Peyton missing six games and struggling when he did play during the regular season. Even more recently, Peyton was accused of taking HGH during his playing time, as well as being accused of sexual assault during his time at Tennessee.

But even with those hardships, his greatness is not tarnished by any stretch of the imagination. His legacy will be defined by the defenses that he dissected surgically, his epic clashes with New England Patriots Tom Brady and his charming personality. When Peyton was playing, it was almost impossible not to tune in.

He was the quintessential quarterback who defied his age and helped increase my overall enjoyment of football. So, after 18 years of dedication to the NFL, No. 18 is finally calling it quits. It will be difficult to not see Peyton on the field every Sunday anymore, but he had a great run that will be recognized and remembered forever.

Junior Braden Shaw is a passionate sports fan who follows sports at both the college and professional level. He loves to defend his unpopular opinions on the University of Nebraska, Sporting KC, Chiefs and Royals and is always up for a debate over any game or team.

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