OK, hear me out. I know most of you won’t read past the headline, but try to have an open mind.
Choosing Peyton Manning over John Elway as the greatest Denver Broncos player in the franchise’s 60 years of existence isn’t the craziest notion of all-time.
In fact, it’s not indefensible. And defend it, I will try here.Trust me, it’s a tough pill to swallow for me, who grew up idolizing No. 7 so much that the number shows up in nearly every social media handle I have. And, certainly by the outpouring of comments Thursday, it clear it wasn’t an easy pill for most of Broncos Country to swallow either.
But, no. I didn’t draw the short straw here to defend my colleague James Merilatt. Though, if I did so, I would do so at full volume, as I would with any of my co-workers who have brilliant, sometimes eccentric, sports minds.
Yes, I come to you — under the full understanding that this will at no point make me popular among our audience — in defense of Manning over Elway in the 104.3 The Fan “Sixty Since 60” list.
First off, a list like this is purely subjective. James is one opinion, and whether you disagree with it is not only your right but your obligation.
That’s not the defense, however.
Statistically, you can make the case that Manning, during his four-year run in the Mile High City, has as much or more impact on the franchise as Elway — at least on the field.
Everyone, please turn your hymnals to Pro Football Reference, page “Approximate Value.”
Sure, the “Approximate Value” metric employed by the holy grail of sports statistic websites is a metric that is ever changing. In fact, in the site’s explanation of the methodology it employs to come up with the AV score — a methodology I won’t go into detail here because, well, I’m not sure if I understand it myself — says that “Approximate Value” should be considered an “evolving document” of algorithms.
“Approximate Value,” however, is a metric that attempts to quantify a player’s value to a team over a certain period of time and is an objective way to compare Elway and Manning (and for that matter all pro football players since 1950).
Obviously, Elway leads the franchise in career AV due to his elite play over an extended period of time, coming in with a score of 203. Manning falls in line at No. 53, with a score of 52 during his time in Denver.
But, if you break down the AV score over the number of games played, Manning, in fact, has a higher average AV (.897 per game) than Elway (.868).
Over a 16-game season, that roughly equates to an AV of .464, which comes out to a difference of 7.424 over the span of a 16-year career.
While not a large difference, it’s not insignificant.
And I guess that’s the point.
Yes, a wide range of factors, both objective and subjective, go into lists like this. And by no means is James’ “Sixty Since 60” perfect. But to call putting Manning No. 1 over Elway crazy is, in itself, ludicrous.