After winning the 2013 Associated Press NFL Most Valuable Player award at Saturday's "NFL Honors" awards show, however, Manning should be the consensus choice for greatest regular-season quarterback pro football has ever witnessed.
Manning now has won the award five times, the most of any player. Jim Brown, Johnny Unitas and Brett Favre were three-time MVPs.
Although Manning was head and shoulders above the MVP field this season, he failed to join Tom Brady (2010) as the only winner to be voted unanimously. One wrong-headed member of The Associated Press opted to make the process about himself rather than selecting the most-deserving candidate.
By basic statistical measures, Manning generated the most productive season ever. He set records with 55 touchdown passes and 5,477 yards through the air while leading the Denver Broncos past the 2007 New England Patriots for most points in NFL history.
Manning has compensated beautifully for waning arm strength by translating opposing defenses before the snap, processing information in the pocket quicker than any quarterback and consistently squeezing accurate passes into small windows.
Armed with a pick-your-poison attack capable of exploiting mismatches down the field and underneath, Manning became a nightmare for defensive coordinators. Even before the season started, it was evident that this offense would enter the NFL's pantheon.
What we will remember most about Manning's 2013 season was the onslaught of points he would throw at overwhelmed opponents to turn a tight game into a laugher. Even when his offense was held in check for a significant portion of the game, he repeatedly showed the ability to pull away with a flurry of touchdowns.
This was the year that Manning widened the gap for most MVP awards while setting a slew of new single-season marks. Before long, he will own all of the major career records as well.
Will those accomplishments propel him to the "greatest ever" perch? That will be debated in bars, taprooms, taverns and podcast studios around the world.