I have seen Johnny Unitas in a Charger uniform after years of being a Baltimore Colt, Joe Namath in a Los Angeles Rams uniform, these are legendary quarterbacks, Unitas was the standard that quarterbacks were measured against. But Peyton Manning benched? Seriously? That had every news outlet and every social media outlet going crazy. A friend of mine texted me asking me if I thought Peyton Manning’s career is over? My answer was and still is yes it, problem is it has been for some time. If you are a regular reader of this blog I thought at the time of his release from the Colts (https://smallthoughtsinasportsworld.wordpress.com/2012/03/07/peyton-to-be-released-by-the-colts-where-will-he-go-next/) that it was risk for him to continue playing. He had just come off of 4 neck surgeries and did not play for over a year …yet he played on, this time with Denver Broncos. He did get them to the Super bowl against the Seattle Seahawks. At this point the way I see it his legacy is secure, he is going to go down as one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game. Nothing he does from this point onward will tarnish that. If 4 super bowl loses did not tarnish Jim Kelly’s or Fran Tarkenton’s legacies or Manning’s boss in Denver John Elway then nothing will tarnish a 4 time MVP- 1 time Super bowl winner by the name of Peyton Manning.
In sports, great ones rise and great ones fall, we have seen the best of Joe Louis and then the end , the best of Muhammad Ali and then the bitter end with his getting beaten by Larry Holmes, we have seen athletes hanging around far too long when it becomes clear that it is time to move on. Very seldom do we get to see an all time great leave at the top of his game, usually both the athlete and the public want to see them continue to perform keep doing it until the tank is empty then we say…he should have quit sooner. Well in Peyton Manning’s case he should have stopped playing last year …you could see the passes wobble, forget the numbers just look with your eyes and you see the end coming and coming harsh. Yet he continued on. This season the Broncos started out undefeated and yet as I told someone, the team on defense was unbeaten the offense looked well off , and that is being kind. What does this have to do with Peyton?
The Broncos are circling the wagons to come up with an excuse for his poor play, playing with pain in his foot, could be broken etc. to his credit he isn’t making excuses but in his late 30’s soon to be in his 40’s it is clear his time is up. please don’t embarrass yourself any further Peyton, your place in NFL history is secure and you own many of the passing records in the history of the game, you won the league MVP 4 times and won a Super Bowl you have nothing left to prove. You came back from serious neck surgeries and made the Broncos a Super bowl threat. But it is clear that it is time to say goodbye. With great athletes, the hard part isn’t the playing, it isn’t the winning and or the losing…it is knowing when it is time to say…goodbye.
Time to say goodbye …Peyton Manning, thanks for the memories.