ARNIE STAPLETON, AP Pro Football Writer
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Brett Favre appreciates Peyton Manning’s greatness, and the feeling is mutual.
Favre said Wednesday that he couldn’t be happier to see Manning on the brink of breaking his NFL record of 508 touchdown throws. Manning has 503 heading into Denver’s road game Sunday against the New York Jets.
Favre told The Associated Press he’s thrilled for Manning, who’s coming off a career-best 479-yard passing performance against Arizona that included four TDs. That made Manning the second QB to reach 500 and moved him within striking distance of Favre’s record.
“I’m glad it’s Peyton that’s doing it,” Favre told the AP in a phone interview from his home in Mississippi. “I think a lot of Peyton. I know him well. I know his family well. His dad was one of my idols.”
Manning said he was pleased to hear Favre’s words of encouragement.
“If you play quarterback, nobody’s defined longevity and career toughness more than him,” Manning said. “His consecutive starts streak is one of the most impressive things I think in all of sports. … He always answered the bell every single Sunday and was always producing.
“And growing up in the South, both of us, Brett has always said he was a big fan of my dad’s, so there’s been kind of a mutual respect there from my family to him, as well. And I always enjoyed watching him play. Nobody played the game quite like he did. He’s truly a one-of-a-kind quarterback.”
It’s not unthinkable that Manning might tie or even break Favre’s mark this weekend when the Broncos (3-1) visit the Jets (1-4).
Manning has thrown for five or more TDs five times in his career. He had a six-touchdown game against Detroit in 2004 and set the NFL record with seven TD tosses in the Broncos’ 2013 opener against Baltimore.
The more likely scenario, though, is that he’ll top it at home. After this weekend, the Broncos play their next two games at Sports Authority Field, against San Francisco and San Diego.
Either way, Favre said he’s preparing to watch Manning roar right past him and maybe approach 600 touchdown tosses by the time it’s all over. After all, Manning reached 500 in his 244th game, 49 fewer than it took Favre.
“I’m not surprised, as well as he’s been playing for so many years,” Favre said. “I think as far as wanting to hold onto the record, I mean I have no feelings of, ‘Oh, my gosh. I wish I could hold onto that.’ None whatsoever.”
Favre said in today’s pass-heavy league he wonders how long it’ll be before someone like Andrew Luck or Russell Wilson bypasses them both. Manning had a similar sentiment Sunday, saying, “it’s all a matter of time, I think, with some of these young quarterbacks.”
Not so fast.
The next two with a chance at reaching 500 are Drew Brees (372) and Tom Brady (365), but they’re 35, and 37 years old, respectively.
Manning, 38, has thrown an average of 2.06 TD passes per game in his career, a better rate than either Brees (1.94) or Brady (1.84).
Luck is 25 and Wilson 26 and both have 60 TD passes so far, Luck in 37 games (1.62) and Wilson in 36 (1.67).
So, even the brightest young QBs will have to pick up the pace — and stay injury-free.
“I’m proud that I threw for 508 touchdowns, but I’m most proud of my consecutive games streak,” said Favre, who played in a QB-record 297 straight regular season games during his 20-year NFL career.
“None of those other records are possible unless you play a long time,” Favre said. “And I know Peyton missed a year. Aside from that year, he’s played just like I did. I mean, he’s been out there over and over and over again. And that’s the only way you amass the numbers that he has.”
Manning’s 208-game starting streak ended when he sat out the 2011 season following neck fusion surgery.
Before that, he averaged 1.92 TD throws per game. Since joining the Broncos in 2012, he’s averaged 2.88 touchdown throws in 36 games.
“It’s amazing what he’s done — but then again, it’s not,” Favre said. “I mean that with all due respect, because of his vigilance and determination. He just has the drive to excellence that has made him special. I’m not surprised by anything he does.”
Follow AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton
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