Will Peyton Manning join John Elway in the Denver Broncos’ pantheon?
Peyton Manning has narrowed his list of potential teams down to two: The Denver Broncos and the Tennessee Titans. Before I continue writing, I feel obligated to tell all of you that Peyton Manning’s career is over. A week from now he will be 36 years-old, with three neck surgeries in an eight-month span, and by the time the 2012 season starts, it will have been 20 months since he’s taken a snap in an NFL game. The two physical traits any player needs to succeed at the quarterback position in the NFL are arm strength and field vision. The type of nerve damage Manning suffered will not only take velocity off of his throws, it will also limit neck mobility, which will ultimately limit his field vision. If Peyton Manning was anybody other than Peyton Manning, no General Manager in their right mind would even give him a chance, let alone a $15,000,000 (I’m looking at you, Daniel Snyder).
Having said that, this current off-season could potentially put two franchises in a position most never have – and never will – be in: Having two of the greatest players at a position to have played on their team.
This week, Randy Moss signed a one-year contract to play for San Francisco 49ers. Jerry Rice and Randy Moss, the two greatest receivers to ever play the game, will both have played for the 49’ers. (Not to mention Terrell Owens, who you can easily argue is the third-best receiver ever, and played a good portion of his career in San Francisco.) This is the equivalent to when Robert De Niro and Al Pacino starred in Heat together, but instead of casting Val Kilmer, they decided to go with Daniel Day Lewis. (Sorry, Batman #3.) And instead of filming the movie together all at once, they shot their scenes separately over a 20-year span. So, really, it’s nothing like the movie Heat, but you get the idea.
If Denver can find a way to land Peyton Manning, the Broncos will have two of the greatest quarterbacks to ever suit up on their team’s historical roster. I still believe Joe Montana and Dan Marino are ahead of both Elway and Manning on the all-time greatest quarterbacks list, but no matter how your personal rankings go, these four players are somewhere in the top-4 spots … unless you’re mentally challenged and know nothing about football (I’m looking at you, Daniel Snyder).
I can’t think of a single franchise – not just NFL, but in any sport – that has had the two best players at a position play for them. The New York Yankees have had an unbelievable amount of Hall-of-Famers play for them, but few of them played the same position. The Chicago Bears have had both Gale Sayers and Walter Payton, but Gale had his career cut short before he could reach his full potential and “Sweetness” isn’t the sure-fire greatest running back of all-time. (Emmitt Smith and Barry Sanders immediately come to mind.) The only franchise that you can argue has pulled off this feat is the Los Angeles Lakers, who have had both Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Wilt Chamberlain (and Shaq) play for them. But you can easily argue Bill Russell was better and more dominant than any of those three.
In the history of professional sports, I can’t think of a single franchise that has had the two best at a position play for them. And now it could potentially happen – twice – in a two-week span. In the same sport.
Personally, I hope Peyton decides to play in Denver. If you read the first paragraph of this article, you know that I cannot stand the Denver Broncos.
I’ve heard people say that if Manning lands in Denver, it will give Tim Tebow the perfect mentor to learn from. But here’s the thing about Peyton Manning; he’s a great teammate, but a horrible coach. Manning is similar to Michael Jordan in the fact that even though both players know more about their respective sport than any human being ever will, they both have too much competitiveness and too little patience to pass that knowledge on and teach it to other players. As great as Peyton is at the quarterback position, I can guarantee he has no desire to sit in a film room with Tebow breaking down defensive schemes and coverages. Plus, I’m pretty sure Tebow only uses the film room to watch Passion of the Christ and old episodes of Growing Pains. (That Kirk Cameron fella is a super swell guy.)
In the end, people will undoubtedly remember Peyton for his remarkable career with the Indianapolis Colts far more than they will for the last few games he plays for Denver or Tennessee. But the fact remains the same: The Denver Broncos will be making a huge financial mistake by signing Peyton Manning, even if it does put the two greatest quarterbacks ever in those ugly orange jerseys.
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