Monday, 19 March 2012

Bucking hell Manning's a Bronco

Manning as a Colt, meeting the man he has just usurped

I'm still a little shocked, but it looks like one former quarterbacking legend was the tipping point for a current quarterbacking legend to sign on the dotted line and move from Indiana to Colorado.

It looks like John Elway, the two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback and now the (deep breath) executive vice president of football operations for the Denver Broncos, was the biggest single influence on one-time Super Bowl winning quarterback Peyton Manning's decision to move to the Rockies.

Manning, who missed the entire 2011 season with a neck injury that never quite healed in time, is now a Denver Broncos player, and thus, let us pray, as the NFL's quarterback carousel begins.

Lost in the Manning-mania that will now dominate North American sports talk for the next week, or even month, is the fact that the Seattle Seahawks signed the 'second' best free-agent quarterback Matt Flynn, the former Green Bay Packers backup.

The Manning signing now triggers a domino effect around the NFL, with Tebowmania (the worship of Tim Tebow) soon to become a distant memory in Denver. I always though that Tebow going to the Jacksonville Jaguars, to put the team on the map, was the best fit, and now this is a distinct possibility of becoming a reality.

Tebow returning to the state he went to college in would be the biggest homecoming ever, and for the Jags it would be their time to move from nobodies to somebodies.

Elsewhere the teams that lost in the Manning sweepstakes, those that got Manning in the back of their Chevy pick-up truck but failed to get to third-base, will now be attempting to either grovel to their incumbent gunslinger or be already out there with the puppies and the bags of sweets and a big smile.

The San Francisco 49ers, Kansas City Chiefs and Tennessee Titans will be trying to wipe away the bitter taste of defeat, as they re-load their big fat PR guns and search for the next face of the franchise.

If I wasn't so tired from a weekend supporting my wife to look after our daughter I would have spent some time on Sunday writing about the reasons why I thought Manning would become a 49er (based on the Super Bowl readiness of the team). So the fact Peyton's place is now in Denver and not the likes of sunny California is gonna take some getting used to.

The Broncos did make the playoffs in 2011 thanks to a run of miracle wins which were orchestrated by yesterday's man Tim Tebow. Truth of the matter was that the Broncos punched above their weight to win an incredibly weak AFC West with a pedestrian 8-8 record, but their playoff win against the Pittsburgh Steelers was one of the biggest playoff upsets in the past twenty years.

Immediately the Broncos will expect Manning to lead the Broncos further in the playoffs than the last eight (as delivered by Tebow in 2011), and nothing short of a place in the AFC Championship will be acceptable for Eli's big brother.

Denver do boast the defensive rookie of the year in the form of linebacker Von Miller, but then again they also have a set of wide receivers and tight-ends that would make a Division II college coach blush.

Peyton will be worshipped in Denver, but he has to win a Vince Lombardi trophy to get the same respect as the man that got him to move to Colorado.

Thing is when Elway won his two rings he had an offensive line that was as nasty as a drunk skunk and a running back, Terrell Davis, that had perhaps the greatest two consecutive rushing seasons in NFL history.

Bizarre fact, Denver is the only city in Winter Olympic history to be chosen to host the Games (1972) and then actually not come through (due to voters not wanting public funds spent on the Olympics). Let's hope Manning's stay doesn't go down the same proverbial frosty free-fall.

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