Only One Manning Left

By Laura Schmitt

Everyone must endure trials and tribulations in order to get to where they want to be. These can vary from emotional, mental and physical challenged. For Peyton Manning, it seems like the past 18 seasons of his career have endured all of these. After suffering from a herniated disc in 2011, Manning’s career was on the brink of ending. He endured four surgeries before making a full recovery and returning to the league in 2012. Unfortunately, this injury marked the end of his time in Indianapolis with the team that had helped mold him into the player that he can proudly say he is today.

While not as traumatic as his previous injury, the 2015 season was full of trials and tribulations for the quarterback. This season he missed 7 games due to a tear in his plantar fascia and had his worse statistics to date. As well as a sexual assault accusation 1996 and HGH scandal, this season was far from easy for Broncos’ quarterback. Despite Manning’s obstacles, he still managed to lead Denver to a 24-10 Super Bowl win over the No. 1 offense in the league, the Carolina Panthers.

At the ripe age of 39, Manning is the oldest player on the Broncos’ roster. After much curiosity over the quarterback’s future and a hard decision for him personally, he announced on Monday that he will in fact be retiring.

The timing for Manning’s retirement is ideal. He is able to end his career on a high note, he has an incomparable record to look back on, and he has the pride of knowing that he didn’t play well past his prime.

Manning has some pretty impressive records to look back on and definitely a future spot in the NFL Hall of Fame. Manning was picked up by the Indianapolis Colts as the No. 1 Draft Pick of 1998. During his 14 seasons with the Colts, he managed to make two Super Bowl appearances, collecting one win and an MVP title in Super Bowl XLI.

While in the Mile High City, Manning led the Broncos to four AFC West titles, 50 regular season wins, and two Super Bowl appearances, including their victory in Super Bowl 50 over the Carolina Panthers. Super Bowl 50 marked Manning’s 200th career win, which is an honor that no other quarterback has.

Peyton Manning is the only starting quarterback to win two Championships with two different teams. He was a Super Bowl MVP, a 14-time Pro Bowl selection, and a seven-time first-team All-Pro.

After the win against Carolina, Colts Owner Jim Irsay had hoped that Manning would end his career back where he started it in Indianapolis. He stated,

“I told (Manning), we would love to have him in here to retire as a Colt. We would love it. I told him, ‘That airplane is waiting for you. The red carpet is clean and lined for you.’ We would be honored to have him come home and sign that contract for a day.”

But unfortunately for Colts fan, it looks like Manning will hang up his jersey in Denver. Although he will forever be remembered for his time in Indiana and is likely to be inducted into their Ring of Honor, he will official be retiring from the NFL as a Denver Bronco.

Ending a career with a Super Bowl is not an uncommon thing. Especially for those players who are reaching their wits end and are able to finish strong with a win of that magnitude. There’s no better way to go out than with the bragging rights of winning the Championship. We’ve seen a lot of great players finish their last season on a high note like this.

Baltimore Ravens Linebacker Ray Lewis, announced his retirement after winning his 2nd Super Bowl in his 17 seasons with the team. After one of the biggest upsets in Super Bowl history, the New York Giants managed a 17-14 victory over the previously undefeated New England Patriots and 15 season veteran Michael Strahan played his last game with the Giants. John Elway finished his 16 season legacy as the Broncos quarterback with a long awaited victory in Super Bowl XXXIII after losing in his two previous appearances.

For some athletes it is exceptionally hard to call it quits and they sometimes play well past their expected retirement date. It’s always difficult to let go of something you love, but there is in fact a correct time to do so. Being an 35 plus year old player who just won a Super Bowl, for example, is usually the right time. There comes a time in any athlete’s life when they must hang up their jersey and find their passion off the field. For some players, this is harder to do than others.

While some player’s legacies don’t end as gloriously as others, there comes a time when an athlete must let go. Bleacher Report names Brett Favre as number 1 on the list of athletes who should have retired sooner. After 16 seasons with the Green Bay Packers, Favre announced his first retirement in 2008.

Favre came out of retirement only 3 months later, soon enough to play the following season with the Jets. He stayed in New York for only one season before creating the biggest betrayal in franchise history by finishing his last two seasons with the Minnesota Vikings. Favre’s final season with the Vikings is not one that’s looked back on proudly. As far as statistics goes, it was Favre’s worst season and a clear indicator that it was time to hang up his jersey. Despite his betrayal of the team that made him who he was, the Green Bay Packers inducted Favre into their Hall of Fame in November 2015.

Brett Favre had been the face of the Green Bay franchise for quite some time, but it was quickly seen that Aaron Rodgers could easily replace him as that icon. While Manning did not have the same long legacy in Denver, he still made quite an impact on the team. But then again, there is always another player that can do that.

The Sportster identified another example of Michael Vick. After his felony conviction and time in federal prison in 2007 most assumed that his time in the league would be over.  However, Vick returned to the NFL in 2009 and intends to play for one more season. He had a somewhat successful season that year, but since then his stats have continued to decrease and he’s suffered from a handful of injuries.

After Manning missed seven starts due to a tear in his plantar fasciitis, it seems likely that the injury mixed with his old age would not make for a prosperous 19th season. It’s a better decision for long time quarterback to end on a high note, than push his luck for another season. As evident through Favre and Vick’s failing stats, their time in professional football needed to come to an end. Through Manning’s struggles this season, it is lucky that his stats would have continued to fall if pursued a 19th season.

Brock Osweiler has the potential to rise to the occasion and fill Manning’s shoes. As Osweiler becomes a free agent this week, there are proposals of a 3 year and $45 million dollar deal for him in Denver. However, Osweiler in Denver is far from a done deal. The Houston Texans are in the marketing for a franchise quarterback and it looks like Osweiler is a high on the list of possibilities for the team. Who knows, the Denver Broncos could lose two quarterbacks this week.

However, if Osweiler were to stay in Denver then the transition from Manning to Osweiler as starting quarterback for the Broncos would most likely be an easy one. In the seven games that Manning missed, Osweiler got to see some overdue field time in which he more than readily stepped up to the occasion.

Not to say that the Broncos are necessarily forcing Manning out of Denver but that they were ready for their quarterback to retire and ready to move forward with the franchise.

The real question now is, how will Peyton Manning react to the retired life? The possibilities are endless. He could be like John Elway and work for the team that gave him his career; most likely the Colts in Manning’s case. Or he could be an ESPN analyst like Ray Lewis. Or he could follow in Michael Strahan’s footsteps and turn the Regis and Kelly show into the Kelly and Michael show.

I doubt his days in football are completely done; my guess is that he’ll enjoy his time off with his wife and two young boys, and potentially raise two all-star quarterbacks the way his dad did. Regardless of what Manning decides to do once he retires from the Broncos, all one can do is hope he doesn’t ruin his legacy by following in Brett Favre’s footsteps.

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