To even crack the 500 TD mark is a remarkable feat. It boggles the mind, really. Only two quarterbacks in NFL history have ever accomplished it. Brett Favre and Peyton Manning. Favre's career record of 508 passing touchdowns was set after 20 seasons in the NFL. That's a remarkable accomplishment, too, playing quarterback in the NFL for 20 seasons, and doing it while playing at the highest levels.
Manning is playing in his 17th season and doesn't appear to be slowing down. In fact, all empirical evidence suggests that over the last two and half seasons, he's been playing the best football of his career. Over that period of time, Manning has tossed a whopping 107 touchdowns.
An even more impressive feat for the 5-time league MVP, is the fact that he reached the 500 TD mark in his 244th game, 49 games faster than Favre. He already owns the record for most league MVPs, the single season TD record (55) and the single season passing yards record (5,477). With another two and a half seasons left on his contract with the Denver Broncos, the 600 TD mark, seems imminent, health willing.
Among active QBs, Tom Brady and Drew Brees are the closest to joining the "500 Club", with 372 career TDs each, respectively. But something tells me that Brady will be very lucky to break through that ceiling. The talent surrounding him is not what it once was. But if we've learned anything about Tom Brady, it's that anything is possible.
Playing in his 14th season, it seems more conceivable that Brees will join the club. New Orleans Saints head coach, Sean Payton, does a great job of putting top-shelf talent around his signal caller and keeping his offense "pass first". Brady and Manning have both missed a full season of play in their respective careers.
Manning, with his neck issues, in 2011, and Brady, with his knee, in 2008. Brees has maintained a remarkable string of good health, however. Even his shoulder injury in 2005-06 didn't force him to miss any meaningful time on the field, although it must be mentioned that he only started one game his rookie year, playing behind Doug Flutie.
Aaron Rodgers could join the club, but one thing that has held him back from being higher up the career TD rankings is the fact that he didn't start until his fourth season in the league. Backing up a reluctant-to-retire Brett Favre has muted his career stats. With 202 TDs in his career, he still has a long way to go to join the "500 Club".
With Manning sitting at 506 career TDs, he's 2 back from tying Favre's record and 3 away from breaking it. It's possible that he could break the record on Sunday Night Football vs the San Francisco 49ers. But something tells me that Vic Fangio will have something to say about that. It most be noted, however, that the Niners are missing several key starters, including stalwart linebackers, Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman.
The Niners second-string linebackers will be hard pressed to fill their shoes and limit Peyton Manning through the air. But their secondary is playing excellent football, including former Bronco, Perrish Cox, who leads the league in interceptions with 3. Manning has averaged 2.89 TDs per game in his time with the Broncos, so I'm putting my money on him. To boot, NFL defenses don't seem to have an answer for Julius Thomas in the redzone.
Will Peyton Manning break Brett Favre's career TD mark this Sunday night? I think he will. And although the Broncos have down-played the whole thing, they do have a celebration of sorts planned. Last season, he broke the single-season TD record on the road vs the Houston Texans. The team is hoping that Broncos Country can be present this time when he emerges alone atop the "500 Club" mountain.
Check out all 506 of Manning's career TD passes in 30 seconds via NBC and Sunday Night Football.