For Manning, no fond farewell just yet
QB seems intent on playing, but can he find match?
It’s too bad there isn’t some long-lost, grainy video that would clear up the dueling accounts of what happened 20 years ago in the training room at the University of Tennessee.
But at least there’s a retro soundtrack from the 1990s that can be applied to Peyton Manning.
Cue up Boyz II Men, and dedicate the next number to the Sheriff. It’s so hard to say goodbye ... Manning hasn’t announced whether he’s done with his NFL career, and at this point we’ve surpassed the statute of limitations for when it can be called “riding off into the sunset” after he became the first to quarterback two franchises to a Super Bowl crown.
He’s only had enough time to go the moon and back.
The NFL has essentially moved on to next season, and it sure seems that Manning— whose $19 million salary for 2016 would be guaranteed with the start of the new league year Wednesday if the Denver Broncos shocked the world and kept him on the roster — wants to come along.
During a speech in Florida a few days ago, he had jokes, too. Something about making a “significant announcement” that had to do with … half-off pizzas.
I doubt that Manning would try to pull our legs about wanting to continue playing, even though he achieved what seemed like the perfect ending in Super Bowl 50.
Retirement has to be so difficult for someone of Manning’s stature, who was so good for so long. Ask Brett Favre. The pride, passion and confidence that were essential parts of Manning’s makeup to fuel excellence when he was in his prime can still weigh on his decision of whether to retire.
His arm isn’t what it used to be. He has been nagged by injuries the past two seasons. He’s going on 40.
Yet he still has his high football IQ, which undoubtedly supports the possibility of playing on— while maybe blinding him to the deterioration in his game.
No, we haven’t heard squat from Manning himself. But his agent, Tom Condon, told USA TODAY Sports and others last week that his star client has expressed howmuch he still enjoys playing. And not long after the Super Bowl, Archie Manning talked of his son being done in Denver … but he didn’t maintain that Peyton was done with his NFL career.
While the suspense lingers and the Broncos trying sealing a deal that keeps Brock Osweiler from bolting, the messages from the Manning camp mean something.
Still, it is a bit surreal that it has come to this for one of the all-time greats: A physically challenging season. Allegations that linked him to HGH shipments. A revival of the gross episode that involved a female trainer at Tennessee. And now a reality check regarding Manning’s here-and-now NFL value.
Does anybody still want Peyton Manning?
His last hurrah could ultimately be determined by market conditions.
Manning, who ranks among the best ever at scanning the field, can undoubtedly see that amid a typically thin quarterback market there’s at least one team willing to try him.
It has been widely speculated that Manning could end up with the Los Angeles Rams, who at themoment are rolling with Case Keenum and Nick Foles.
Manning would give the franchise star power as it relocates to Tinsel Town, but remember, the last time he picked a team, he frowned on playing in the NFC because of the competition he’d engage in against his brother, Eli, in the Super Bowl chase.
Then again, maybe he’s desperate enough to overlook the Eli-in-the-NFC factor.
And maybe there’s a team more desperate for his services in Houston.
Just think of Brian Hoyer during the playoff debacle against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Texans could buy time in developing Tom Savage and a quarterback from the draft by adding Manning to a team that just won the AFC South.
The brainpower, matching Manning with coach Bill O’Brien, would be intriguing enough.
O’Brien, who once coached Tom Brady in New England, was hired by Houston because of his track record with quarterbacks. Living up to that rep, though, has been an issue. And after trying Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ryan Mallett and Hoyer over the past two years, it’s no secret that Texans owner Bob McNair’s patience is getting thinner.
McNair has only publicly reiterated the obvious, that there’s no bigger priority than quarterback.
Adding Manning would demonstrate a win-now type of urgency for the Texans even while also trying to develop a long-range answer at quarterback.
And, of course, it would prevent Manning from saying goodbye just yet.