The Denver Broncos have Peyton Manning on the brink of immortality in the Super Bowl on Feb. 2. Of course, Manning is already immortal with all his record-setting stats, his past Super Bowl title and five MVPs. However, winning a second Super Bowl would end every single doubt and nitpick about him -- including the one where he lost his shot at a second ring four years ago.
When Manning reached the 2010 Super Bowl against the New Orleans Saints, back when he still led the Indianapolis Colts, it looked like nothing could stop him from winning his second title. Such a win would have put him alongside Tom Brady as the best of this era, and likely put him on the road to challenging Joe Montana, Terry Bradshaw, John Elway and other multiple champions.
Yet when Manning took his first shot at a second championship, the Saints locked him down. In fact, they gave his legacy a big step backwards when Tracy Porter clinched Super Bowl 44 on a pick-six interception. It has taken four years and a change of teams for Manning to get this close again.
However, it is easy to imagine the Seattle Seahawks and their Pro Bowl safeties victimizing Manning like Porter and the Saints did. While the Broncos set many single season offensive records this season -- to say nothing of their quarterback -- the Seahawks have one of the few defenses equipped to shut them down. They may not have the explosive offense of the Broncos, or even the 2010 Saints, but they may not need it.
If Manning loses and goes to 1-2 at the Super Bowl, no matter what else he does tonight, it would be the asterisk to end all asterisks for him. Of course, if he somehow came back and won another championship next year anyway -- or the year after that if he plays that long -- it would be even more remarkable than if he won tonight.
Still, two Super Bowl losses as a favorite would be the only thing to cancel out all of Manning's other accomplishments. But after all the doubts and setbacks he's endured since losing to the Saints four years ago, this chance at redemption and much more has been a long time coming.
Manning and the Broncos look to celebrate starting at 6:30 p.m. est on FOX.