The White Bronco
Just two weeks ago, when the Indianapolis Colts declined to pick up Peyton Manning’s $28 million salary bonus, one of the NFL’s all-time great players, and the only 4 time MVP in the league’s history found himself without a job.
Like many of his fellow Americans, who cant throw the ball 10 yards let alone lead a team to a Super Bowl, Peyton Manning was now unemployed.
Of course, not a single other American is sitting on their couch as NFL teams toss their QB’s to the side faster than Kim Kardashian moves from one pro athlete to the other, and jump over one another in hopes to give their 36 year old asses nearly $100 million and the keys to their respective franchises.
Immediately upon Manning’s release, he was in uncharted territory.
Manning had spent his entire 14 year career in Indianapolis with a Colts team who had taken him with the 1st pick in the NFL draft.
Before news of Manning’s release was even official, “so called” football experts were already speculating as to what teams may want Peyton Manning as their new starting QB.
The Miami Dolphins and Arizona Cardinals, both teams that many believed were simply Peyton Manning away from competing for a Super Bowl, automatically made sense to everybody involved. But as intriguing as those choices were, Peyton Manning told each franchise thanks, but no thanks.
The Denver Broncos, Tennessee Titans, and San Francisco 49ers were no the 3 finalists.
So what does that tell you about how NFL franchises STILL thought of Peyton Manning’s ability and his potential to take their franchises to the Super Bowl even after 4 neck surgeries on his 36 year old neck and a full season away from the game?
The Tennessee Titans have Matt Haselbeck, a veteran QB who had a great season for an often injured Titans team, as well as Jake Lockhart, the player they drafted to be their future. They were hoping that the temptations of returning to Tennessee, the state in which he had played college football, remaining in the AFC South, a division in which he had spent his entire NFL career, and the pleasure of gettin an opportunity to stomp the asses of an Indianapolis Colts team that released him after a legendary 14 year career, twice a year would be enough to lure Manning to the Titans. And they were willing to deliver Hasselbeck AND Locker out of Tennessee on a platter to do so.
The San Francisco 49ers, a team with a plethora of offensive weapons and the game’s premier defense, coming off of a 13-3 season that saw them EASILY in the NFC West and come within 3 points of having a shot of playing for the Super Bowl in this season’s NFC Championship game, the 49ers were MORE than happy to toss Alex Smith, fresh off of the breakout season Niners fans had been waiting for since they drafted him #1 7 years, over the Golden Gate bridge.
The Denver Broncos had Tim Tebow as their starting QB. You would have to have been living under a rock for the past few year to not know what Tebow accomplished for the Broncos last season. Taking over the reigns of a Denver Bronco team that many thought may finish at the bottom of the division, Tebow lead the Broncos to several huge come from behind victories, and won the division title for the Broncos as Tebow mania SWEPT over the nation. Tebow then threw the game winning TD pass in the Broncos 1st round playoff game against the defending AFC Champion Pittsburgh Steelers.
Yet STILL, with ALL of that success, and the entire nation tuning in to Broncos games to be witnesses to “Tebow Time,” John Elway and the Denver Broncos were MORE than happy to throw Tim Tebow to the wolves covered in raw hamburger patties with the hopes of landing Peyton Manning.
The Denver Broncos WON.
Obviously it wasn’t because they had the most talent of Manning’s 3 finalists. The Niners, with the games best defense, Frank Gore, Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree, Mario Mannigham, and the newly acquired Randy Moss, CLEARLY owned that distinction.
Obviously it wasn’t because they offered Peyton a chance at familiarity. The Titans clearly offered the 36 year old QB the closest thing to that by giving him a chance to return to the state in which he had great success as a college player, while also allowing him to remain in the AFC South, the same division in which he had spent his entire pro career.
So how DID the Broncos, the team with the fewest offensive weapons, and the worst recieving corps of the 3 finalists, get Peyton Manning to agree to finish his career in a town in which it is freezing 8 months out of the year and step outside the friendly confides of a dome for a guaranteed 8 games a year??
Peyton’s obvious love affair with former Broncos great, two time Super Bowl champ, and Mr. Manning’s new boss, John Elway.
Manning fell feet 1st into John Elway telling him “he knows how he feels” as an aging QB.
His mutual respect for a fellow Quarterbacking legend, lead him to ignore all obvious logic.
Want to be as close as possible to a Super Bowl as possible??
San Francisco is the place.
Want some form of familiarity after a breakup with the franchise that has been signing your checks since the day you came to the bigs?
Tennessee is the obvious choice.
For an athlete whose words seem as well scripted, politically correct, and logical as any superstar in the history of professional sports, Manning said with one quick movement of his pen on a 5 year, $95 million contract, “To HELL with logic.”
This decision could ultimately forever alter people’s perceptions of Manning’s career as a QB, as well as John Elway’s as an NFL executive.
Elway walked off of the field after his final game as a Super Bowl winning quarterback.
Somehow, some way, Elway convinced Peyton Manning that he can do the same for him.