It’s a sad day in Indianapolis today as the Colts have released one of the all-time great wide receivers in Marvin Harrison. Marvin has worn the Indianapolis white and blue since 1996 and has been one of the league’s best wideouts from then until now. Part of the reason Harrison has become one of the leagues superstars is due to the guy throwing him the passes. Peyton Manning was drafted first overall by the Colts in 1998 and he formed an immediate chemistry with Harrison.
For a few years now there has been an ongoing debate about where Manning and Harrison place on the list of the best Quarterback-Wide Receiver combinations in NFL History. They are compared with duos such as Rice and Montana, Rice and Young, Irvin and Aikman, or Reed and Kelly. We’ve seen some great new tandems over the last couple of years, too, such as Moss and Brady, Owens and Romo, Johnson and Palmer, Moss and Culpepper, and even the emergence of Wayne and Manning, but those were over only a couple of seasons each, so there isn’t enough of a sample to include them in the discussion.
The stats show that Harrison and Manning’s numbers are above the rest. The argument can be made that Rice and Montana would have the best numbers if they were able to play together for more than just six years; the numbers for Rice and Montana are astonishing over such a short period. The other tandems all managed to stay together for about a decade. The numbers extrapolate to show that if Rice and Montana could have been together for a decade, they would have combined for 743 receptions, 13,110 yards and 132 touchdowns.
Even though Super Bowl Championships reflect the entire team in football, they can be useful to see how successful the tandems were during their time together. Rice and Montana combined for three Super Bowls in their six seasons. Reed and Kelly made it to four straight Super Bowls but were never able to win it all (can you say Choke? Or how about wide right?). Rice and Young won one Super Bowl together. Irvin and Aikman were able to combine for three Super Bowls and Manning and Harrison won one (they know about wide right as well, *Cough*Vanderjagt*Cough*).
When it is all said and done, Rice and Montana were probably the most impressive Quarterback and Wide Receiver duo that the NFL has ever seen. They won three Super Bowls in only six seasons and their numbers together are incredible. Additionally, it is worth mentioning that Jerry Rice is considered the greatest receiver of all time while Montana is considered one of the top Quarterbacks of all time.
However, the numbers don’t lie, either. Manning and Harrison put together 11 seasons that make up two incredible careers. When they retire they will each be considered as part of the upper echelon of their respected positions and both are sure-fire Hall of Famers. No matter which tandem you consider the best duo of all time there is no doubt that Manning and Harrison belong in the discussion, and it is a sad day for the NFL now that they are being split up. They were once considered a fairy tale duo and have become a football nightmare, but this is what happens in the NFL nowadays with free agency and the salary cap. This coming season will not be the same when I don’t see Harrison running his patented quick slants or fade routes, but I am thankful that I was blessed to watch them for the last eleven.