Peyton Manning owns NFL records for passing yards and passing touchdowns. He knows he won’t hold either for much longer.
Drew Brees trails Manning by only 1,495 yards and by 51 touchdowns.
“He’s just been the ultimate pro, taking care of himself, being in great shape,” Manning said Friday, via video from the Times-Picayune. “It’s a credit to him for playing as long as he has, at such a high level. He changed teams, which I know what that’s like. That is not easy going from San Diego to New Orleans, and he’s just been a great model of consistently obviously [with what] he and Sean [Peyton] have been able to do in 12 years together now.
“Yeah, I don’t think it’s a matter of if. It’s just a matter of when. He deserves it. He’s been a great player for a long time.”
Brees ranks second in completions (6,222) behind Brett Favre (6,300). He trails Favre (10,169) and Manning (9,380) in attempts with 9,294. Brees’ 70,445 passing yards are closing in on Manning (71,940) and Favre (71,838). Brees is tied with Tom Brady in touchdown passes (488), with only Manning (539) and Favre (508) having more.
“Obviously, you never play for individual records of any sort, and I know Drew feels the same way,” Manning said. “I think touchdowns probably has a little more meaning to a quarterback, because it means that you got six points, and it means you were doing something good for your team. Yards, as you all know, [doesn’t] necessarily mean winning games. I think Drew’s had a couple of big yardage seasons, and maybe they haven’t been winning games, so I think that can be a little bit misleading.
“But being a fan of the history of game, when I was a Brett Favre fan and the guys who held the touchdown record before Favre — Fran Tarkenton, Johnny Unitas — I really enjoyed kind of being a part of the quarterbacks that my dad grew up watching and loved. I’m a believer in the history of the game. I’m sure Drew will feel the same way when he breaks the touchdown record, which I think he’s got to throw a lot this year to break it, but he will get it next year if not this year. I think touchdowns means you’re helping win games. When I broke the touchdown record several years ago, it was in a game that we won, and it was helping our team win. Drew has been the ultimate team player. It’s all about helping your team win. I know when he breaks any of these records, it’s not going to mean as much to him if the Saints don’t win the game that day. . . . But he certainly deserves it.”