As I watched the Indianapolis Colts press conference on the morning of March 7th it kind of saddened me to see Peyton Manning be released by the team he called home for 14 years. This is the sad reality of most athletes especially QB’s in the NFL. Age and injuries are not a best friend to anyone especially when your much older in a physical game like football
Peyton had been battling neck injuries for the past couple of years and had a number of surgeries (4) to repair the problem. His last surgery was September 8 2011. This surgery was a one-level cervical neck fusion, and the typical minimum recovery time is reportedly two to three months. He never made it back to play during the 2011 season and had just been signed before the season to a 5 year 90 million dollar contract. By March he was guaranteed 24 million dollars in which the Colts had the option to pay him and let him be their QB for the 2012 season. Turns out the Colts decided to go in a different direction.
With an aging injury recovering Manning the Colts owner Jim Irsay felt it was too big of a risk to pay him that much money and bring him back. Could we really blame him though? How often do QB’s play at a high level past the age of 35 with different injuries sustained. Safe to say there’s not very many. What also kicked this whole situation into motion was emergence of Andrew Luck possibly the best QB to come out of college since Peyton Manning in 1998. With mechanics and intangibles similar to Manning the Colts had no choice but to go in a different direction. Many fans and sports personalities felt that the Colts should keep Manning and let Luck learn from him. Yes there has been situations where that has worked. First one that comes to mind was Aaron Rodgers sitting behind Brett Favre and eventually becoming the starter. I don’t believe that would’ve worked. Manning would’ve felt he had to prove something because they were bringing in this hot rookie QB to be the future when he retired. Honestly Luck would be ready play in the 2012 season. He was pro ready last season at Stanford and could step right in and play immediately. So overall both would’ve likely been impatient. This is why the Colts had no choice but to go in the direction of Andrew Luck, especially coming off the worst season they’ve had in a long time and other aging players like Manning. They had to go in a direction with younger talent.
People shouldn’t be shocked by this move because it’s happened with some of the best QB’s throughout history. Joe Montana from the 49ers to the Chiefs. Johnny Unitas from the Colts to the Chargers. Joe Namath from the Jets to the Rams. Brett Favre from the Packers to the Jets and Vikings. It’s weird to see these legends of the game play in different uniforms, but it’s definitely part of the game. Very rarely do we see these guys play at a high level later in their career. Brett Favre had a great season in his second to last year with the Vikings almost leading them to a Super Bowl but finally showed his age in his very last season in 2010. We rarely see any players finish their careers with the same team . QB’s such as John Elway and Dan Marino are the ones I can think of that spent their entire career with one team. Elway is the only one I’ve ever known to play at a high level at the end of his career which led to 2 Super Bowl Titles back to back.
So the million dollar question would be. “Where should Peyton Manning play in 2012?”
Here’s my answer to that. If I were Peyton there’s several teams I would look at. The Dolphins, Seahawks, Chiefs , Redskins, Cardinals, Jets, and 49ers. Maybe even the Denver Broncos as well. I feel the best situation would be would be in Miami. Miami have a nice young squad and played well in some games last year. He would have one of the best receivers in the game Brandon Marshall along with a decent WR core and TE Anthony Fasano who isn’t that bad. It would also be great to see him and Tom Brady play twice a year for the next couple of years. We all know how great that rivalry is. Other teams that I feel he’d be a great fit are the Seahawks and Cardinals. Seahawks have Charlie Whitehurst (clipboard Jesus) and Tavaris Jackson. Enough said….. The Cardinals have their QB they paid money for Kevin Kolb who really didn’t play well last season and his backup John Skelton who could easily play over him. It would be nice to see Peyton Manning throw the ball to Larry Fitzgerald and the rest of that Cardinals receiving core as well. I really don’t see the 9ers just because they seem to have all the confidence in the world with Alex Smith and he almost had them in a Super Bowl last year. Denver Broncos seem to be sticking with Tim Tebow but we all know how that song and dance goes. People keep mentioning the Redskins as well. If I were Peyton I’d stay as far away as I can from the Redskins. That organization is known to ruin free agents careers. The most recent case was DL Albert Haynesworth. To me that team would kill his career and not rejuvenate it. In the end he should just sign with the Dolphins. I think with him at QB that team would instantly be a playoff team and would compete with the New England Patriots for the Division Crown.
In the end if Peyton’s neck holds up and he gets that velocity back on his ball He’ll have a couple more good years maybe even 3. Depends on his offensive line as well. We all know he had one of the better offensive lines during his time in Indy. If he’s getting hit constantly that can do some damage and possibly have more long term affects on him after his career is over. I’ve never really been a fan of the Manning Family but I’d like to see him finish his career strong possibly competing for another Super Bowl title. He’s earned that right.