Yesterday, Chris Mortensen reported that Peyton Manning had given his agent permission to start negotiating with the Denver Broncos, thus signaling the start of the end of one of the most publicized and media-obsessed free agent signings in the history of sports. I admit I followed the saga every single step of the way with interest. However, I would be lying if I said I did not start to tire of the constant coverage in the waning days.
Call me no fun, but when Peyton Manning and John Elway were the lead story for numerous sports broadcasts and sports radio programs last week over the NCAA Tournament, I knew that enough was enough. I desperately wanted Manning to make a decision. I would never blame Peyton himself for basking in the spotlight for too long though because anyone with a brain knows that was never his intention. All that he wanted to do was make the absolute best decision for himself…he earned that right.
This was not a Brett Favre type deal here. Peyton Manning handled the rejection from his beloved franchise with class. He stated all along that he wanted to continue to play football. He didn’t retire and come back, he didn’t send out ambiguous text messages, he didn’t go back to some rural area and throw passes to high school students, he didn’t need the Denver Broncos team to go out and kidnap him and fly him in a private jet to Colorado. He did not play games. Rather, he went about his business and listened to a few potential teams that he had an interest in playing for and made a decision. Simple as that.
I laughed yesterday and today at the media and others who said Peyton did not make the best decision in his choice of who to play for. How can anyone say that? First off, how can anyone say they know what is better for someone than that actual person? Secondly, how can anyone second guess the decision making of Peyton Manning? This guy has made millions and millions of dollars off of his decision making skills, both on the field with his play and off the field with his lucrative endorsement deals. Peyton Manning is legendary for his intelligence and reasoning. Also, none of these people questioning his decision sat down at the meetings with the various teams who Peyton talked to. They had no idea what was discussed and what Manning learned for himself through the talks. In my mind, I see him at these meetings acting like some sly police interrogator, picking the brain of each team executive with calculated and tough questions, knowing when to jump in with the follow up and knowing when to just keep quiet and make the execs elaborate. I have no doubt that Peyton came out of this process with all of his questions answered and with a 100% personal conviction on where he wanted to go.
Peyton Manning knows what he has in front of him in Denver. There is no doubt he is feeling the pressure. I mean when you sign a $96 million dollar contract how can’t you? He also knows the expectations. Surely if an unqualified, unorthodox, step child quarterback can lead your new team into the second round of the playoffs the year before you got there than winning the Super Bowl in your first go-around must be more than attainable, right? See what I mean? I think that is the main reason why Manning did not go to San Francisco, he knew it was Super Bowl or bust as the 49ers had already gone to the NFC Championship game this past season. Anything the same or less than that would be a disappointment. But again, I don’t know if the expectations are going to be much different in Denver.
I am more than excited to see Peyton Manning in a new uniform in a totally different environment. I admit, I am still having trouble truly grasping the sight of him in Bronco blue (the ESPN shots of players in their future/prospective team uniforms are bogus and corny…they look so altered) but I will get used to it. I am really intrigued to see how he will manage with new players, new coaches, and a new system. I think also what people have to realize is that Peyton has been out of the league for a full year. How is he going to come back from that? Rusty? Same as old? What if his injury has not fully healed? What if he is just not the same Peyton Manning? It will be very interesting to see these scenarios unfold. Make no mistake about it, John Elway is taking a gamble here. Remember, just because you make a good bet does not that it will always pay off…it is still a gamble.
Of course the secondary story in all of this is Tim Tebow. If you have read any of my past posts on Tebow, you know I will be rooting for him. One day this guy is going to have a movie done on him and some studio is going to pay billions of dollars for the rights to make it. What he has overcome is nothing short of amazing and for something like this to come up now just makes you feel for the guy. The Broncos did nothing wrong in acquiring Peyton Manning, they did everything that any fan that is worth a damn would want their organization to do. But under the major victory and triumph that this signing means for the Denver Broncos there is the cruel irony and rotten luck that has fallen on Tebow. Can the guy get a break? I really hope the media cuts him a little bit of slack. If the past couple of days are any indication though, they won’t. Tebow bashing amongst the media is as prevalent as it was at the beginning of the NFL season. Please, just give it a rest and treat the guy fairly.
I am happy for Peyton Manning that after the Colts cut him loose he went about his search and did it on his own terms. I am also happy that he got a fat pay day. The guy is a winner and I am a fan of his. I do hope though that now that he has selected his team and has signed the contract that everything dies down a little bit. Let’s concentrate on the Sweet Sixteen and all the other sports that are actually in-season right now. However…Denver Broncos fans…..you have my permission to party like crazy all the way throughout the offseason. Don’t Blink.