Peyton Manning spent nearly two iconic decades in the NFL, leading the Indianapolis Colts out of the NFL basement and into the penthouse, leading the team to 11 playoff appearances, eight divisional titles, three AFC Championship games, two Super Bowl appearances and one Super Bowl title.
The all time great spent the final four seasons of his illustrious career in Denver, leading the Broncos to four division titles and two Super Bowls culminating with a Super Bowl victory at Super Bowl 50, becoming the first quarterback to lead two different teams to Super Bowl titles.
Manning retired with a record five MVP Awards, a record number of 4,000 yard passing seasons and a wide range of other all-time records. He is third in career passing yards and career touchdown passes. The consummate professional, Manning was easily one of the most reliable, consistent performers the league has ever seen.
In retirement, he’s remained visible with off field projects that stretch into the mainstream consciousness. Simply put, Manning is one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever step on the gridiron and one of the most influential athletes away from it.
While Manning was in the midst of an incomparable career, Alan Reynolds in the midst of putting together a nearly incomparable Peyton Manning card and memorabilia collection. He has what is almost certainly the largest collection of Manning cards on the planet–about 16,000 different cards alone.
“I believe so, only because of the numbers.” he says. If there was a Manning card printed, Reynolds almost certainly has it–or a bunch of them. For volume and quality, no one has been able to match it.
“Numerically it’s almost impossible, especially with the one of ones,” he said. “I consider printing plates one of ones and I have 835 of those now. I have 496 other one of one cards. As far as autograph cards, ones that were bought or found in packs, I have nearly 1,500.”
Reynolds has been collecting for over 25 years. Growing up on the south side of Buffalo, he lived right down the street from the old War Memorial Stadium. “Jack Kemp and Daryle Lamonica were fighting over the starting quarterback position at that time. I have always been a loyal Buffalo Bills fan.”
His collection isn’t limited to Peyton Manning cards, though. Not even close. “I have every regular issued football card from 1948 to 1998. At that point in time they started putting out so much product that I needed to pick one player’s cards to collect.”
Initially, the Manning Super Collector miscalculated who the top QB was going to be to collect in that classic draft. He chose the centerpiece to his single player collection based on location.
“Actually I picked Ryan Leaf of the San Diego Chargers to collect. I lived closer to San Diego than any place else. Ryan Leaf looked like a bust about half way through the first season. I thought I better switch to collecting Peyton Manning. I still have some fairly rare Ryan Leaf cards I held on to. I probably have another 1,000 items. I have his action figures, posters, standups, and every product he endorsed. I have every magazine and other items.”
After getting a good look at the early part of the season, his midstream switcheroo was a wise choice. He definitely picked the right guy to collect but no one knew that Manning would become as successful as he did, not even his number one collector.
“I didn’t think it would work out quite like that.” Reynolds told SC Daily. “The collection kept going on and on. Most players might have a five or ten-year career and move on. He has so many cards. I don’t know if anyone ever tried counting them all. By my count he has 20,583 total cards.”
In all, he owns over 1,300 1/1s and nearly 1,500 different autographs.
A lifelong educator, Reynolds was a middle school teacher for 30 years, with half of that time being spent in special education and the other half of his career spent teaching 7th and 8th grade U.S. and World history. Retired about a year and a half ago, the California resident has had even more time to devote to his passion. An entire room in his home is dedicated to Archie’s most successful son. “My house is five bedrooms and one of them is devoted to my ‘junk’, as my wife calls it. The cards aren’t really displayed.”
As one might imagine, much of his collection was pieced together one by one and most of it was found online. He struck while the time and price was right and when the internet marketplace started booming. “I accumulated a lot of duplicates over the years. I have been selling them on eBay. 99.9 of everything I have was purchased on eBay. eBay just started to hit when I started collecting.”
Asking him to choose his favorite card is like trying choose a favorite child–if you had over 20,000 of them. He does have a fond recollection of one issue, though.
“In 2008, SPx came out with a box topper, which always a one of one. I started collecting those. Nobody seemed to want them and I could pick them up for about 30 bucks. I had about 89 of them. Those Manning box toppers are some of my very favorite cards.”
On the topic of serial numbered cards, Reynolds once again throws out some mind boggling numbers. “Of all Peyton Manning cards numbered to 25 or less I have nearly 6,000 such cards.”
Under the advice of his wife years ago, Reynolds made some very wise investments in California real estate including the purchase of a dozen rental properties in the state. “It turned out be one of the best investments I could make. That’s the only way I have been able to afford all of these cards.”
As with many icons, Manning’s cards get another boost when he received pro football’s highest honor. Ironically, the guy who wanted every Manning card is now having a hard time buying some of them. “As soon as he went into the Hall of Fame. I can’t even afford to compete anymore, which is really weird.”
Taking a step back to reflect, Reynolds can’t help but think of the genesis of the Manning collection compared to how many cards are being printed these days. “It reminds me of the glut of the 80’s and 90’s. Fortunately many of these (Manning) cards are serial numbered, so I know the scarcity will always remain, otherwise I would be paranoid as hell and start selling it off.”
Selling? Who are we kidding? He plans on being around collecting his favorite player for a long, long time.
“Hopefully I have another twenty or thirty years.”