Saturday, March 10, 2012

Daring to Dream of Peyton Manning.

As Peyton Manning is touring Denver, Phoenix, and Miami trying to decide where he is going to play, I look at this photo of him with John Fox and John Elway and just keep thinking, "Please make this happen!" I am still doubtful he ends up in Denver, and although I realize there are plenty of reasons that I should be hoping Manning doesn't come to the Broncos, I can't help but keep wishing and hoping. I want him.

Here's the thing, Dude is about to turn 36 years old. He has had three or four neck surgeries in the past year or so, and there is precious little proof that he can even throw a football right now. Best case scenario he gives you two or three years of football. And clearly he's past his prime and due to start declining rapidly. Still, here is the thing...HE'S PEYTON MANNING! If he's right, and if he is able to come in and sling it, he's one of the best of all time. Sure, he'll always belong to Indianapolis, not whichever city he ends up in at the tail end of his career, but that never bothered Denverites when it was Ray Bourque on the Avalanche in 2001, and it won't bother us now.

We want Peyton. The very idea that it's even within the realm of possibility makes me giddy. When Peyton Manning is right, he's one of the few quarterbacks that is a difference maker all by himself. He guarantees nothing. He's only managed to get one ring in the whole of his Hall of Fame career. However, having him on your squad means you're in the discussion. Not in the discussion in a Tim Tebow "isn't this interesting how a bad quarterback is winning" kind of way, but in a "this team has the potential to win a Super Bowl" kind of way.

I'm a fan of Tim Tebow. This past season was one of the more interesting and surprising and fun in my three decades of being a Broncos fan. Still, Timmy isn't winning a Super Bowl. Ever. Should the Broncos miss out on Peyton Manning, I'll try to delude myself into believing that isn't a fact. However, I believe it to be the truth. I think Tebow is a great person, wonderful character, and someone who is going to work very hard to improve himself. I'm not sure if there is anyone in history I've hoped for harder while believing in less. I would love nothing more than to see Tebow win multiple Super Bowls, and I'll root for him to succeed throughout his entire career be it in a Denver Bronco uniform or be it elsewhere. I like Tim. I just don't think he's the type of elite quarterback capable of wearing an ugly hat on the sidelines as the confetti falls at the end of the last game of the season.

Here is where Peyton fits a need so strongly with the Broncos. Tebow has become so beloved in this town. It's going to take something special for an uncomfortably large section of the local fan base that I like to call "the idiots who believe Tebow is better than Elway" to be okay with kicking number 15 to the curb. It's hard to find a quarterback capable of making these people sign off on a change under center. Tebow is their hero. Manning has the credentials to make this happen, and even if people don't embrace it, they'll understand it.

I don't know if Tebow would be traded (which seems likely, as it seems impossible that Tebow and Manning would possibly run the same system since they are vastly different quarterbacks) or perhaps Tebow would be the backup (again, not sure how that would work). Either way, the Broncos would be able to move on without too large of a backlash. How do you complain about moving a quarterback who's throwing motion hurts to watch for one of the greatest of all time?

Now, there will be some backlash, and if Manning ends up signing in Denver and struggling to return to form, we're going to hear it from the second guessers. However, if it works, the ceiling for the next two or three years is significantly higher than it has been since Elway retired. It's a potential greatness that is worth shelving or trading Timmy to attempt to achieve, even if it fails. Manning makes you relevant. Manning makes you interesting. It's a huge gamble with the potential of torpedoing the Broncos. Manning is worth the risk. 

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