I go back and forth. Yes and no. Stop and go.
If we put all the cards on the table, it’s easy to see that Peyton Manning was awful the last month of the NFL season. The awfulness spread into Sunday’s game against his former stable and all hell broke loose after the performance.
It should have. Manning is one of the best quarterbacks of all-time. Manning is, and I hate when sports talkers say this word, elite. But he’s elite with a capitol E. Manning will be forever loved and forever joked about because in a game that sees more commercials than actual action on the field; Peyton is/was on the TV constantly.
I, like many, am conflicted about what Manning is going to do. Will he come back for another season in Denver or will he hang it up and call it a Hall of Fame career. I started off as a no, but then Monday morning happened.
Monday rolled around and the general public learned that Manning was suffering from injuries to both legs. Initial reaction is that the legs shouldn’t be a major injury to a quarterback, especially with an – let’s say immobile – quarterback like Manning, but it all comes from the legs. A lot of power comes through the legs to throw the ball way down field.
An injury like this explains away the suckiness of the last segment of the season for Manning. When we look at that stat sheet we can say ‘he was hurt, he played through it like a champ.’
I was in on Manning being in for another season in Denver.
Monday afternoon rolled around and John Elway had fired head coach John Fox; a guy that got to the playoffs with Tim Tebow, who had more passing yards in his one playoff appearance than Manning did on Sunday, but that is beside the point. Way beside the point. Fox is, at a minimum, a decent coach. It is no shoo-in that the next guy up for Denver will have the same talent as Fox.
I have moved to totally not knowing what Manning is going to do.
Did Manning want Fox out? Is Manning an Elway guy or a Fox guy? Does Manning really give a bleep about who the head coach is? Does Manning care who his offensive coordinator is? Manning basically is his own offensive coordinator out on the field, right?
Broncos Offensive Coordinator Adam Gase is up for multiple head coaching jobs in the league, including the now open Broncos job, but does Gase’s destination really factor into Manning’s decision?
I think not.
One usually reputable source of information asked on Twitter on Monday who would sign Manning if the Broncos released him. The answer is no one. That’s because the Broncos should not and will not move on from Manning unless he retires. Manning is better than anyone available and the injuries give a good excuse for a reason to give it another go for both the player and the team.
Manning will finish his career as a Bronco. I am certain of that. Very certain. We’ve either seen the last game of his career or it’s still coming, but he’s finishing it as a Bronco.
Every participant in any sport wants to finish on top. From high school basketball player at a school in the boondocks who never got off the bench to a Hall of Fame quarterback, everybody wants to finish on top. Manning didn’t finish the season on top, not even close. He didn’t even finish it healthy. Peyton Manning was one hit away from being Brett Favre damn near dead on the frozen turf at TCF Bank Stadium. I don’t want injuries to be my lasting memories of two of my favorite and two of the best quarterbacks of all-time.
I want another Manning season. I want Manning standing tall and leading the Broncos to another first round bye and playing his heart out for another Super Bowl. The least I want is another Tom Brady – Peyton Manning matchup. I want beautiful, beautiful closure with no what could have beens.
I think Peyton Manning wants that too.