• We’re Number Ones

    What an incredible pairing in the Mile High City.
    A man who was the first overall pick in 1983 and the final first-round selection of the then-Baltimore Colts (who never played for the organization) spent all 16 of his NFL seasons in Denver and concluded his career with back-to-back Super Bowl wins with the Broncos, the second the final contest of his Hall of Fame career and one that ended with him being named the game’s Most Valuable Player.

    Another man who was also the first overall pick in his respective draft in 1998 and would start every game at quarterback for the organization until this past season, when injury sent him to the sideline for the entire 2011 campaign. Along the way he would also win a Super Bowl title while putting up some of the most impressive numbers of any player at his position in the league’s history.

    John Elway (300) and Peyton Manning (399) are 2 of the 6 players in NFL annals to throw at least 300 touchdown passes in their career. Now they join forces, per say, in an attempt to bring Super Bowl glory back to one of the most enthusiastic fan bases in the league. The fact that Manning was let go by the Colts earlier this month following a season of inactivity and an offseason was certainly news in some regards and not surprising in others. And history tells us that one way or another, the fact that the veteran signal-caller will not finish his career with the team he was drafted by is hardly earth-shattering.

    Dating back to the common draft in 1967, there have been 19 quarterbacks drafted first overall. In recent years, it’s become almost standard to take a quarterback with that number-one selection, which has been the case 11 times in the last 14 drafts dating back to ’98 and Manning. Compare those numbers to the first 31 years of the common draft when just 8 quarterbacks were selected first overall from 1967-97. In any case, these are not bad investments overall. A total of 7 of the 19 quarterbacks who were first overall picks have made at least 1 Super Bowl appearance, all but 1 (Drew Bledsoe) has won at least 1 title and the 7 have combined for a 14-5 record in the Big Game.

    But regardless of the era and the circumstances and even pre-free agency in the league, more times than not that first overall pick quarterback-wise does not finish his career with the team that actually selected him (of course, that’s excluding Cam Newton, Sam Bradford and Matthew Stafford, each whom are still playing under their initial contracts with the teams that picked them). In the case of both Elway (1983) and Eli Manning (2004), they were traded to the Broncos and Giants, respectively, and never played for the Colts and Chargers who actually picked them (and obviously worked out well for both of the teams they suited up for, each winning a pair of championship rings).

    This past October, QB Carson Palmer (2003) went from Cincinnati to Oakland in a deal that affects the first round of this April’s draft. Bledsoe (1993) led the Patriots to Super Bowl XXXI but would finish career with the Bills and Cowboys. Of course, former Patriots’ QB Jim Plunkett (1971) eventually wound up with the Raiders, where he led the Silver and Black to a pair of Super Bowl wins in the 1980s. Unfortunately, rare are the Terry Bradshaw (1970) and Troy Aikman (1989), who played their entire double-digit careers with their original suitor (and combined to win 7 Super Bowls) while others like Vinny Testaverde (1987) and Jeff George (1990) became journeymen for any number of assorted reasons.

    But back to Peyton Manning, who certainly has an appreciation for history and has to be aware of one somewhat painful fact. Only two quarterbacks, Craig Morton (Cowboys and Broncos) and Kurt Warner (Rams and Cardinals) have ever led 2 different franchises to the Super Bowl. Manning will not only attempt to become the third but the first to lead 2 different teams to a Super Bowl championship.

    Will the Broncos’ newest number 18 succeed? It’s anyone’s guess but it’s a certainty that we’re on the verge of a whole new mania in Denver.

    Comments 9 Comments
    1. wxwax's Avatar
      Call me slow, but it took your article to make me appreciate that Manning made his name on the team that Elway refused to play for. Funny, that. Imagine Colts history if Elway had also played there.
    1. Trumpetbdw's Avatar
      Russell, there's just something I love regarding how circular your thoughts are. Thanks for another interesting article.

      I guess this pretty much guarantees that Andrew Luck will eventually end his career in Denver as well?

      I've said it before, love the symmetry of the generally conceded 3 best QB prospects of all time all ending up as the 1st overall pick with the exact same franchise.
    1. hobbes27's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by wxwax View Post
      Call me slow, but it took your article to make me appreciate that Manning made his name on the team that Elway refused to play for. Funny, that. Imagine Colts history if Elway had also played there.
      If Elway had played for the Colts, Manning would have never been a Colt. And I don't think Elway would have won a superbowl with the Colts either.
    1. RSConn5's Avatar
      Well this all just means that Andrew Luck will inevitably be a Denver Bronco at some point in his career.
    1. Nancy's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by wxwax View Post
      Call me slow, but it took your article to make me appreciate that Manning made his name on the team that Elway refused to play for. Funny, that. Imagine Colts history if Elway had also played there.
      Yeah, this did not escape me at all. But then, I'm known to hold a bit of a grudge.

      I would love to see the Broncos be wildly successful with Peyton Manning, but history would indicate that this is unlikely. Will sure be interesting to watch it all unfold, though.
    1. Dave Lapham's Avatar
      Peyton Manning's new Director of Football Operations John Elway didn't want to play with the Colts who drafted him with the first pick of the draft. He ended up winning 2 Super Bowls in Denver. Peyton's brother Eli didn't want to play for the Chargers coming out of college. Eli has won 2 Super Bowls for the Giants. Will Peyton win his second Super Bowl with Denver? Peyton is a football historian that would love to be the first QB in NFL history to win the Lombardi Trophy with 2 different organizations. Kurt Warner couldn't and Craig Morton couldn't get it done with...a little irony here..Denver. Manning will be focused and driven to be the one to set the standard. Geting there would be quite an accomplishment. Winning it would be truly remarkable.
    1. FootballFan's Avatar
      Manning's neck makes me nervous. I think Denver's offense is going to be 99% shotgun to get Manning back from teh defense and a better look at the D, and Manning will have the quickest release he's ever had in the NFL to avoid getting planted.

      That means that the majority of route trees will be short timing routes, which is fine for a guy like Manning, as long as his receivers are in tune, b/c as soon as the coverage jumps the route, manning pump fakes, the receiver takes off, and the ball is out past the back end of the defense in a split second.

      I think that Peyton will be a man on a mission, but......the body.....father time.......tick tock.

      Should be fun to watch.
    1. wxwax's Avatar
      Manning will have a new kind of neck brace next season.

    1. BuckeyeRidley's Avatar
      I like Peyton Manning and John Elway Teaming Up Together; I think It Can Work in part because I think Elway sees himself in Peyton's place back when he was in his late 30's trying to get to another Super Bowl.

      I think Elway has the chance to be a Good Football Executive. It's still Early & He's Got A Lot to chew on before we'll see the result but I can sense that he'll turn out alright. Why? He knows Football & he can work with a younger or older player; that show me he can adapt, aside from the circumstances.