Peyton Manning is a household name. He’s a great quarterback who has seen the lows of a professional football career and the giddy highs. At the tender age of 39-years-old, he is starting to see the lows again. This trip, Manning may not be able to get away from the grip of time. He’s been benched. His body is hurting and he’s not playing like the Peyton of yore. It’s time to move on gracefully.
Manning has been the standard for quarterback since coming into the league. From 1998 to 2010, he led the Colts to eight division championships, three AFC championships, and one Super Bowl championship. His five NFL MVPs are a league record. Manning was the most valuable player of Super Bowl XLI and has been named to 14 Pro Bowls. Manning also has thirteen 4,000-yard passing seasons, and is the Indianapolis Colts’ all-time leader in passing yards (54,828) and touchdown passes (399).
In 2011, things changed for the man in Blue and White. In May, Manning underwent surgery to alleviate neck pain and arm weakness. After signing a $90 million extension with the Colts, he assumed he would be playing that same year. But a second surgery forced him to miss the entire season.
After trying out with several teams, Manning was finally given another chance by the Denver Broncos. After just two seasons, Manning was working his magic again. The Broncos went 13-3 in 2012, but bowed out in the Divisional Playoffs to the Baltimore Ravens. The magic wasn’t over. The very next year, Manning engineered another 13-3 campaign and the Broncos landed in the big dance. Peyton Manning was able to defeat his arch rival Tom Brady and advance to Super Bowl XLVIII. The ending was bittersweet. Peyton lost to the Seahawks in a lopsided game.
But in a sudden change of fortune, Manning is hurt again. His body has been banged up and bruised by the game that he loves. In the first nine games of the season, Manning’s skills have him ranked as the worst quarterback in the league. His performance against the Chiefs was one of the worst of his career. Yet in the same breath, Manning is still one of the greatest signal callers of all-time.
The entire league is calling him ancient. Analysts are predicting he won’t finish the year. Rumors are flying that Tim Teebow is going to take his place. It’s a circus of accusations that surface when a legend is nearing the end of a phenomenal career. But it’s only his foot. His ribs are also banged up, but that comes with the territory of quarterback. Starters keep that quiet and play all the time.
“Listen, we’re not immortal. It happens to all of us. It’s going to happen to me. I’m still playing. You guys retired. You can’t play forever. So, for us to bash Peyton Manning, it’s disrespectful. That’s all I hear: Peyton Manning’s done. It’s disrespectful the way we’re talking about it. He’s older, he’s had some injuries and his time is near. It’s the reality. I just don’t like the way we’re covering it. I don’t like the narrative right now. To me it seems very disrespectful when you look at what this guy has done for this league and for so many people in this league.”
[Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images]
Although Manning has been benched, it’s also fair to understand the situation with the Broncos organization. Their job is to win games and make it to Super Bowl L. If Manning is hindering that process, he’s subject to being removed for another player.
A foot problem is the least of Peyton Manning’s worries. There are still seven games to be played. He had two neck surgeries and came back to lead the Broncos to a Super Bowl. They may have lost, but they still have the greatest player and humanitarian to grace a football field.
Chicken parm tastes so good. Thanks Mr. Manning.
[Feature Photo by Andy Lyons / Getty Images]