Many years ago I coined the phrase "Choker Manning" because up to 2006 he had never won a championship on any level. In the biggest games of his career, up to that point, he had played his worst games.
The Quarterback position is about not just producing in the regular season, but performing in the playoffs. Manning finally won his ring, but as we chronicled in the "5 Reasons Super Bowl Prediction" he didn't have that defining moment.
He had that moment staring at him and he blinked. Legendary quarterbacks simply can not blink and throughout his career Manning has blinked a lot.
He is now 9-9 in the playoffs and 1-1 in Super Bowls. Brett Favre, the man who Peyton Manning will one day pass in the record books, is 12-10 in the playoffs and 1-1 in Super Bowls. Peyton Manning is a first ballot Hall of Famer just like Favre, but right now he isn't on the Mount Rushmore of Greatest Quarterbacks of all time.
Peyton Manning is one of the best of all time, but will never be considered "THE BEST" until he has that defining moment and wins multiple Super Bowls. He has every skill you would in a quarterback except that skill you can't define. Montana had it. Brady had it. Bradshaw had it.
I deeply suspect that people are moving the goal posts. I think this is about expectations, and folks who are arguing for "multiple Super Bowls" would have been arguing for "the big one" five years ago.
That aside, I don't really get how you can argue that Terry Bradshaw is ahead of Brett Favre or Peyton Manning on the Mount Rushmore of Quarterbacks. If anything it points to the limits of using Super Bowls. I think Dan Marino is ahead of Terry Bradshaw, and yeah, Troy Aikman and Roger Stauchbach. I love them both, but neither belong in a conversation with Peyton Manning, Joe Montana and Dan Marino. By the "multiple Super Bowls" argument, Peyton Manning is the equivalent of Mark Rypien, Trent Dilfer and Joe Theismann.
I also think that this kind of argument actually subtracts from the opposing team. Pre-Saints, Manning faced two really good teams. I had no idea what the Jets could have really done to stop him. But the Saints figured it out--keep his ass off the field. And they did everything they could--from onside kicks to going for it on fourth down--to that end. As a fan of aggressive football, it was great to watch. But it's hard to argue that you've conquered anything, if you aren't facing much of an obstacle. If Manning is a serial choker, then what did the Saints accomplish? More likely, on Sunday Peyton Manning and the Colts were beaten. It happens. Especially when you're facing a great team.