Peyton Manning is par excellence the NFL’s all-time touchdown king. The Denver Broncos’ 38-year-old quarterback threw touchdown No. 509 of his career Sunday night while playing against the San Francisco 49ers, only to break Brett Favre’s career record.
In an interview with NBC’s Bob Costas that aired during the pregame show, Manning praised retired Green Bay Packers legend Favre, who played his final seasons with the New York Jets and Minnesota Vikings. Back in 2007, Brett Favre had surpassed them all, eventually throwing for 508 touchdowns over 20 seasons, a stretch that included 297 consecutive NFL starts, which is still an NFL record.
“All players would like to be able to say that they played with as much passion as Brett Favre,” Manning said. “I hope you can say that about me, but I’m not sure it does justice to Favre. … There will never be anyone quite like him.”
Manning began the night with 506 touchdowns, then crept closer to the record with a three-yard scoring strike to Emmanuel Sanders in the first quarter. The record-tying touchdown also came in the first quarter, on a throw to Wes Welker that the receiver turned into a 39-yard score.
Manning was then mobbed on the sideline, first wrapped into a bear hug by Broncos head coach John Fox as Sports Authority Field at Mile High public address announcer Alan Roach alerted the crowd to the milestone.
“Broncos fans, you have just witnessed history,” Roach said, introducing a pre-taped video tribute that featured messages from Favre, Broncos general manager John Elway and several Broncos teammates.
Against the Chargers, he has thrown for 24 touchdowns — 12 the past two years. He has hooked up for touchdowns with 44 players, including Broncos defensive lineman Mitch Unrein.
If Manning continues throwing touchdowns at the pace he set when he arrived in Denver, with 2.9 touchdowns per game, Manning will pass 600 touchdowns in 2016, and conceivably throw for more than 630 touchdowns.
After Manning and Favre, the all-time passing touchdown numbers drop off to 420 for Dan Marino, 374 for Drew Brees and 369 for Tom Brady.