The Broncos Hoping for a Replay of the Past?
~ Amy Lignor
A QB rating of 92.8. Three previous attempts at Super Bowls that were unsuccessful. The oldest player to play the game…and the oldest player to ever score a TD in a Super Bowl (age 38). After three disappointments he brought his team to victory not only once (Super Bowl XXXII), but twice, when he repeated their glory the very next year. Voted MVP at his age, John Elway went out on top. In fact, he was as on top as top could get. The winner in him had shone through loud and clear and taken twin Lombardi trophy’s back to his beloved Denver fans before saying “so long.”
But in 2015, what the headlines and all of the NFL experts are talking about is Peyton Manning – the so-called “best QB” in the NFL, although there are many facts that state this is not true. Peyton is certainly among the best of the best, and has now also officially announced his return to the Broncos for the upcoming season. The ‘old man’ has passed his physical and left some cash behind for the role he will play, and is hoping that for his fourth season with the Broncos he will be able to add his own second Super Bowl ring to his career.
But do people really think the past will reinvent itself? Will Peyton Manning do what the illustrious John Elway did and win a Super Bowl in order to retire on top? Chances are (and experts say) there is no shot he will do so. He did step back for a bit as Tom Brady and the Pats weathered through their ridiculous Deflate Gate in order for Brady to win his fourth ring of his career, but Peyton Manning then decided that he wanted one more shot at the brass ring.
Now John Elway isn’t dumb. Even he knows that Manning is not him and that the hope for the past to regurgitate itself so that Manning can be the Cinderella story that Elway was back in the 90’s is a long, long…long shot. Elway actually proved he wasn’t very sure by having Manning take a $4 million pay cut from the $19 million salary he was scheduled to receive in 2015. Only $15 million. Makes you feel bad for him, doesn’t it?
After the finances were worked out, Manning came forward to speak to Bronco fans. “I’ve been working real hard and I’m excited to be back with the Denver Broncos. I can’t wait for April 13th to get here when the team can finally come together. I’m excited to get to work and get to know the new coaches and looking forward to trying to make 2015 a special year.”
How special would that be? Well, Denver has seen miracles before. They have been the owner of the old man QB who brought them back-to-back Super Bowl wins. But to assume Peyton Manning will wear that glass slipper and follow in Elway’s path is a bit of a reach.
Manning has not done badly; we all know that. Thus far he has led the Broncos to 13-3, 13-3 and 12-4 records that all resulted in locking up first-round playoff byes each season he’s been the leader. He even has a non-guaranteed 2016 salary of $19 million waiting in the wings…perhaps in case the shoe does actually fit and Manning reaches the apex.
Ego-wise (and it never really shows Peyton on TV having an ego, just a determination to win), this is the actual first pay cut that he has had to deal with during his entire career. Manning will be 39 before the season begins. He will celebrate his birthday before this month comes to an end. But after meeting with Elway, he did accept the pay cut even though he’s played far better than most experts and fans thought he would because of the neck injury sustained when he was the QB of the Indianapolis Colts.
Manning will most likely not see the apex of NFL football again before his career is officially over. But what he will always have is the accolades, records and oh, yeah, the Super Bowl ring. It’s not like he will have to leave empty-handed. Add to that the fact he broke the largest record of the NFL – the single-season passing record this past season by throwing 55 touchdowns and 5,477 yards – and you have a career that most football players would kill for.
But Manning’s return is now reality. And even though the Cinderella dream is 99.9% a true fairytale, his pay cut did push the Broncos’ cap room to around $20 million. Word of advice? Get a man who can run and get him now. The 39-year-old QB, even though great, has shown that he most definitely needs some help.