Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts is a man. He can make his own decisions and no one else should be telling him otherwise. As much everyone thinks they know what is best for Peyton Manning, they don’t.
Manning is coming off reportedly 4 separate neck surgeries in the past 2 years according to Don Banks of SI.com. According to his birth certificate, Peyton will be 36 by the time the 2012 NFL season rolls around. He has played 13 seasons in the NFL according to his stats page on NFL.com.
A lot of people talk about legacy. Brett Favre apparently had his tarnished.
Apparently, Peyton Manning could end up doing the same thing.
Peyton Manning can do what he wants.
The tarnishing of the infamous legacy is one of the most absurd concepts in professional sports. People illogically believe that it is in duty to protect an athlete’s so-called legacy. There is this idea that one should stop playing before the inevitable decline of father time or injuries take their toll on that person, making them unable to perform close to the level that fans are used to. Rumour has it that continuing to play past this point of substantial decline or even just the possibility of playing past that point is grounds for tarnishing of the legacy.
For some reason, it is engrained in sports culture that what you do late in your career can take away from the things that happened in the prime of your career. The thing is, this George Costanza idea of going out on a high note really doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Last time I checked, you can’t erase what’s written in the history books. That stuff is down in permanent marker, you know, the T.O. kind of sharpie. But more importantly, the decision of whether or not to keep playing really shouldn’t come down to legacy at all.
Brett Favre still wanted to play. Peyton Manning wants to as well.
Who are we to tell these guys what to do? This isn’t our life. We aren’t their mothers.
They should be able to play as long as they want. If there is someone out there that is willing to pay them money to play the game that they love, then by all means they can choose to carry on with their careers. If playing is what the heart desires, the barrier stopping that from happening should be a Donovan McNabb situation. McNabb isn’t close to the level of Manning or Favre, but there came a time this past year when no was willing to pay McNabb to play football. Hey buddy, now it’s time to retire.
As weird as it was for fans to see Johnny Unitas in a San Diego Chargers uniform or Warren Moon in a Kansas City Chiefs uniform, the far from fairy-tale endings to their careers have done next to nothing to skew the way they have been remembered.
Of course, not that it matters anyways.
Michael Jordan said that he wanted to go out on his own terms. He did that when he tried his hand at professional baseball. He did that when he played 2 seasons for the Washington Wizards. Michael Jordan did what he wanted to and has probably left the game happier because of it.
Regret is one of the worst feelings in life. I’m young. At 20 years old, I almost certainly don’t understand what real regret is. Nevertheless, it can’t be easy for a professional athlete to live the next 50 years of his life and know that he had more to give to the game. To walk away from the only identity and livelihood you have ever known is undoubtedly a scary thing. It’s scarier to think about when you know that there’s more left in the tank.
Brett Favre became one of the most repulsive athletes for his multiple pseudo-retirements. However, when you reflect back to his magical season at the age of 40 in Minnesota, you can’t help but think it was all worth it. Again, what I think doesn’t really matter. It’s what Brett thinks. I bet he would be the first to tell you that having one of the most improbable, unpredictable and captivating seasons in sports history made it all worth it.
If he had listened to what everyone was saying, we would never have seen what Brett Favre had in store for us that season.
Peyton Manning is barely a year removed from being on top of the NFL mountain. If he wishes to return to the NFL, most likely not in a Colts uniform, then he should do so. If not, he can walk away from the game as one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history.
He has to do it on his terms though.
Chris is a writer on Comedic Prose, and he also is the editor of Painting the Black.
You can follow Chris on twitter @paintstheblack or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org