The Duke head coach, who was Manning's offensive coordinator at UT, said on Monday he believes the two-time Super Bowl champion is the greatest quarterback of all-time.
"I'm not a little biased, I'm a lot biased .... In my opinion, there's no question, he's the greatest quarterback to ever play the game," Cutcliffe said, according to the Duke student newspaper, The Chronicle. "I just think he's the most impactful player who's ever played the game at that position, and maybe period. Everyone will always have fun arguing that, but I'd stay up probably half the night arguing with them, if they wanted to."
The "greatest quarterback ever" argument has few boundaries, and depending on criteria, any number of other names -- Marino, Montana, Elway, Favre, Brady -- can enter the conversation. For Cutcliffe, who has maintained a close relationship with both Manning brothers into their pro careers, Manning ends the conversation.
Few know the Manning family as well as Cutcliffe. He was Eli Manning's head coach at Ole Miss, and he worked with Peyton Manning in his efforts to rebound from a neck injury several years ago. It was the brief interim between his years with the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos, setting the stage for a successful renewal of his pro career.
"At the beginning of it, there was nothing beyond trying to be better next week. It was literally at that point. There were a lot of conversations because I watched how hard he had to work, there were a lot of conversations at the end of the days that were based on, 'Should I even be doing this? Am I wrong for trying to do this?'" Cutcliffe said. "That will never happen again like that where we shared something, and then watching this big great athlete, great player, a guy that had accomplished most anything anybody would want, work as hard as he did to get back."
As Cutcliffe noted, he's biased.
But he just might be right, too.