Paige: Broncos' Peyton Manning will ride off into the sunset
According to two sources, Manning will acknowledge his retirement decision by the end of this week
His Bronc riding days are over; the last rodeo is done.
Peyton Manning is saying goodbye; it's been lots of fun.
According to two sources, Manning will acknowledge his decision by the end of this week.
In all probability, Peyton, who will turn 40 on March 24, is leaving the Broncos and retiring from the game he has played competitively for 29 years.
It's implausible that Manning would opt to sign with another team for one season.
Manning's final play for the Broncos was a handoff to C.J. Anderson for 5 yards with 1:22 remaining in Super Bowl 50. Manning's first play with Denver was a handoff to Willis McGahee in the opening moments of a September game in 2012.
In between, Manning threw for 151 touchdowns and 19,062 yards. He ran for one touchdown. he won 76.9 percent of the games he started with the Broncos, compiling an overall 50-15 record. He came off the bench to lead the Broncos to one other victory in his final regular-season game.
With Manning, the Broncos won four consecutive AFC West titles. The Broncos played in two Super Bowls, winning one.
Also astounding was Manning's record as a starter against division teams. He was 20-2, losing only to San Diego at home in 2013 and to Kansas City in his final start in 2015, when he was suffering from plantar fasciitis and suffering through his worst game. He never lost a division game on the road.
Manning produced 10 comeback victories and 11 fourth-quarter, game-winning drives. All pleased his boss ó The Comeback King.
In John Elway's last four seasons, he had a combined record of 51-17 (75 percent) and won two Super Bowls. He could have won another in the 1996 season. Manning perhaps could have won another in his first season in Denver.
Elway finished his career as the all-time leader in regular-season victories. Manning is No. 1 in combined regular-season and postseason victories with 200. Elway was the oldest quarterback (38) to win a Super Bowl ó until Manning replaced him at 39.
Both must be placed in the top tier of all-time quarterbacks, and probably in the first five.
Manning's achievements, coming after overcoming four neck surgeries and with a new franchise, are more than everyone should have expected. Same for Elway, who overcame three Super Bowl defeats and a torn biceps. The two No. 1 picks, originally property of the Colts, made Colorado proud.
There have been three parades.
Elway is the chief football officer of his old team ó and probably will become a part owner. Manning perhaps will be a co-owner and the vice president/general manager of his own franchise.
Elway fulfilled his promise made to Manning when they met on March 11 four years ago. Manning, who had been released by the Colts, was the most prized free agent in NFL history. Denver was Manning's first stop. When they talked at Cherry Hills Country Club, far from the maddening crowd, Elway told Manning he would do what was done for him toward the end of his career. He'd surround the quarterback with enough talent to get back to the Super Bowl. Manning joined the Broncos.
Elway acquired all-pros and drafted future Pro Bowlers, changed personnel, fired a successful coach, brought in ally Gary Kubiak and gave Manning the best defense in the league. Manning gave Elway everything he had ó the greatest passing season in league annals ó and then all he had left in his final season ó one more return from injury and three victories in the postseason.
Both got what they sought ó another world championship, Manning's second as a player and Elway's first as an executive.
Manning and Elway can part amiably and agreeably.
Elway also just did for Manning what had been done for him. He gave Peyton time and space to consider his future after the past two seasons. As Elway walked off a golf course on the Monterey Peninsula in mid-April of 1999, 2Ĺ months after he won his last Super Bowl, he told me he was retiring. He made the announcement public several days later.
There are new NFL offseason regulations these days. Manning had only a month to deliberate his retirement, but he already had indicated to family and close friends, and Bill Belichick, that this most likely was his last rodeo.
But Manning had to be sure.
Peyton met with John at the Elway home last week, and now Manning is certain.
After famed country duo Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn broke up, Brooks would sing about his "Last Rodeo" to his bronc Thunder: "That's what this old game is about. It looks like our time is running out."
Fare thee well, Peyton.
Thanks for passing by.