The Denver Broncos’ choice to pursue Peyton Manning struck me as strange.
Sure, Broncos Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Elway never trusted Tim Tebow and Head Coach John Fox is not the type of coach who seems to have the stomach for the unconventional, but it really seemed like the Broncos had something good going with the lefty from the University of Florida.
Many teams wander in the wilderness for years searching for a player with the ability to add the spark that Tebow provided to the Broncos. In the second round of the playoffs the Patriots mutilated them, but beating the Pittsburgh Steelers in the playoffs is not the kind of thing that happens every year.
In fact, it very rarely happens in football, and none other than Tim Tebow threw the pass to win the game.
The National Football League appears to moving toward acceptance of a non-traditional quarterback – just look at the king’s ransom the Redskins gave up in order to move up to pick Robert Griffin III – but John Elway and company could not accept what they had in Tebow and enjoy what he brought to the game. They decided they just had to get Peyton Manning.
I believed with his three neck surgeries and one Super Bowl ring, Manning would call it a career.
He has nothing left to prove and with a fragile neck he is certainly messing with his later quality of life. His doctors may have cleared him and the Broncos would not have signed him to a $96 million (albeit unguaranteed) contract without feeling sure about his medical condition, but I find it hard to believe that Manning’s neck surgeries have not left him irrevocably damaged as an athlete.
This whole Manning to the Broncos thing has the stink of a similar move 19 years ago, when Joe Montana was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs from the San Francisco 49ers to make way for Steve Young. Montana had some success in Kansas City, but he was not the same player he had been in San Francisco.
Athletes are not particularly adept at knowing when to exit the stage and give way to the next generation. They do not tend to realize when the game has passed them by. And in this situation, the NFL may have passed Manning by while he was out.
Wouldn’t it be better for Peyton to go out like the Detroit Lions Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders? Sanders left the fans wanting more, but he knew that his quality of life after football was also important and understood that he wasn’t at the top of his game anymore.
Instead, Manning could be messing with his legacy. He is a surefire Hall of Famer, but just as no one wants to remember Joe Montana wearing a Chief’s uniform (except for Chiefs fans since they have not won a playoff game since 1993), who will want to remember Peyton Manning as a Bronco?
Finally, back to the Broncos, to whom I pose this question: was it really worth giving up the man who sparked “Tebow Time” to get a potentially washed-up quarterback, who is unlikely to win a Super Bowl?
I say no, but only time will tell.