|The Sheriff says goodbye|
Whilst this writer is a New England Patriots fan until my sun sets, it is begrudgingly but respectfully that I wish Peyton, can I call him Peyton, all the best with his retirement. As long as the Patriots have been at the summit there has been Manning riding beside them going toe to toe in titanic tussles from Foxboro to Indianapolis to Mile High.
For every great quarterback there has to be an equal, otherwise you cannot be considered great yourself. If Tom Brady did not have Peyton Manning to fight and battle against then neither would have striven to achieve what they have.
|Tennessee 1993-97, |
Indianapolis Colts 1998-2001,
Denver Broncos 2012-2015
While there may be a risk of tainting Manning's legacy due to a possible HGH scandal or a sexual assault from his college days at Tennessee, and whilst they might blight his post-playing career with any investigation that may take place - the man played the game in such a professional and stately manner for all those years has to be admired.
For every early postseason exit, there was Manning to take the bullet for his Colts and Broncos, taking the blame for failing to meet expectations for both the franchise and himself.
|Professional and stately|
He has to be admired for the way he conducted himself when he had to cut ties with the Colts (the team many thought he would retire with) who released him pathing the way to join Denver and John Elway. He never moaned of victimisation or of feigned loyalty, he served his time in Indy and the fans thanked him and saved their vitriol for owner Jim Irsay.
Manning left with his head held high. He did not clamour for attention while he made a crucial career decision to join Denver, he did not turn his free agency into a sideshow like say LeBron James so infamously did.
Manning has been control of his career from the outset, not because he asked for the control but because his quality of play demanded it. As the best pocket passer in history who threw the best spiral, he formed a lethal partnership with Marvin Harrison worthy of comparison with Montana and Rice, who time and time again won game after game.
Manning became the man you loved to hate because he won time and time again. The guy who was a born winner now retires a winner. Despite a worse passer rating - 67.9 - than his rookie season - 71.2 and only throwing 9 touchdowns to 17 interceptions in the regular season.
His arm was failing him. His body had slowed down. And so it comes to pass. Time waits for no man.
|Bennie Fowler caught Manning's last NFL completed pass|
Every legendary player or first ballot Hall of Famer such as Peyton, deserves to right their own ending. His journey ended in San Francisco, out in the Old West, a city of regneration and new born - the old Sheriff took his battered body and team led by a stellar defence to the promised land and a victory in Super Bowl 50.
They say you are only as good as your last throw. Peyton's last throw was a two point conversion to Bennie Fowler which gave the Broncos a 24-10 lead with less than a minute to go.
His last pass was a completed pass and it put points on the board.
Peyton wrote his ending. Peyton had the Lombardi Trophy for a second time. While his decision may be based more on health than the cementing of a legacy, lets be glad he decides to end it now and not come back for one more fading shot at glory like Brett Favre.
The time is now for the Sheriff to ride into the sunset. Good luck Peyton.