Heading into the 2015 season, many speculated this would be Peyton Manning’s last ride as he was approaching the age of 39 and injuries were beginning to mount on him.
He decided to come back for 2015, and it wound up being the perfect ending to a storybook career with a second Super Bowl championship in a 21-10 win over the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50.
Manning had an up and down season, starting nine games and winning seven, and throwing only nine TDs to 17 INTs. Still, he came out a champion.
With records such as the the most career wins by a QB (200), most TD passes in a single season (55), most passing yards in a single season (5,477), and being the all-time leader in passing TDs (539) and passing yards (71,940) to go with two Super Bowl wins (06′ Indianapolis Colts, ’15 Denver Broncos), it’s time for the five-time league MVP and 14-time Pro Bowl selection to ride off into the sunset, even if we doesn’t want to admit it.
Admittedly, it’s not easy to walk away from the game you’ve been playing since your hands were big enough to grip a football, but with Manning’s health in question it’s time to stop playing games and announce his retirement.
Manning defied the odds coming back from a serious neck injury that cost him the 2011 season and his job with the Colts, but passed for 37 TDs and 11 INTs in 2012 to lead the Broncos to a 12-4 record and the number one seed in the AFC Conference.
Over time, that neck injury would comeback to haunt him as he admitted he had no feeling in his finger tips and it was making him hard to grip the football anymore, hence why he was always wearing the glove.
I give Denver Broncos General Manager and Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Elway, as well as head coach Gary Kubiak, a lot of credit for being patient with Manning as he makes his decision. But, free agency begins in four days and the team’s next best option, Brock Osweiler, is set to hit the open market.
Osweiler filled in nicely for Manning, going 5-2 as a starter and throwing 11 TDs to six INTs. His first ever career start was a thrilling overtime victory over the New England Patriots, not many QBs can say they’ve beaten the great Bill Belichick in their first ever start.
Osweiler will be receiving calls from QB needy teams such as the Houston Texans, Cleveland Browns and New York Jets (if they don’t resign Ryan Fitzpatrick) if the Broncos don’t lock him up. But that might all depend on when, or if, Manning announces his retirement.
Manning’s contract is up with the Broncos come March 9, and many are speculating that if he does decide to suit up for one more go around, it’ll be with a different team such as the Los Angeles Rams.
So with his health and career with the Broncos in question, why is Manning taking so long to say he’s done?
One thing possibly holding Manning back from retirement is that despite coming out a Super Bowl champion, his defense had to carry him. Think about it, one of the greatest QBs of all-time had to be carried to a title. After carrying so many great Colts and Broncos teams, it is possible that Manning was very disappointed in his play in 2015, and wants to rectify that.
Even in the Super Bowl, Manning only went 13-for-23 for 141 yards and one INT, not exactly the kind of numbers one of the all-time greats wants to put up in the biggest game of the season.
Another reason for playing maybe one more season is an overall postseason record of 14-13, with 11 one-and-done losses, as well as a 2-2 Super Bowl record. Depending on who Manning would play for, if he does play in 2016, who knows if he’ll even make it back to the postseason.
Or, he could just be too in love with the game to say he’s not ready to call it quits yet.
Statistics aside, Manning has had one of the finest careers an NFL QB can endure, and further risking his deteriorating health is nonsense.
He has the records, the rings, and overall the hearts of everyone who loves football (except maybe New England Patriots fans).
You had a one-of-a-kind career Manning, and it’ll be as hard for us to watch you leave as it will be for you to leave. Still, your health is the most important thing and that’s what you need to consider.
Don’t make us sit through another year of you taking big hits and wonder if you’re broken. Go out on top, and ride off into the sunset.
If you decide to retire, thanks for everything you’ve done. If not, we’ll see you in 2016, sheriff.