It’s the middle of July here in Colorado and I am wondering what kind of sports news there is to write about. My knowledge of sports does not extend far beyond that of the 4 major American, and a little Canadian, professional sporting leagues. I certainly don’t want to write about the Rockies because this has been their most abysmal season in the history of the franchise, and the other major sports are pretty much in hibernation at this time. However, there is one question that has been agitating me ever since Denver’s football team made one of the biggest acquisitions in NFL history, and that is, “Will Peyton Manning ever truly be considered a Denver Bronco?” There are many ins and outs to the answer of this question and my guess is that most people outside of Colorado will give a resounding no, especially the people of Indiana. Nevertheless, is it possible?
I will admit that I grew up in Colorado and I am a diehard Broncos fan. I have stuck by them through their Super Bowl victories all the way up to the last few years when the Tim Tebow circus was in town. I have also been somewhat of a Peyton Manning fan all these years, even though he always had the Broncos’ number. With all of this being said, I will try to remain as unbiased as possible in this argument and I will also stay true to the fact that there are few scenarios where Peyton Manning isn’t always going to be considered an Indianapolis Colt, and never a Denver Bronco. There are plenty of athletes that live out their careers in a certain city playing for a certain team and being extremely successful for that team, even considered a legend, but slowing down towards the end of their career and being traded to other teams to finish things out as a novelty or just a “plug in” player. I know sports fans never like to hear about this scenario, but it is a business just like anything else and loyalty doesn’t always trump money. Probably the most prominent of these situations would be Michael Jordan playing for the Washington Wizards, or Jerry Rice playing for the Oakland Raiders. There is also Joe Montana finishing out his career as a Kansas City Chief, which, in the end, might be the most similar story to Peyton Manning’s.
As a football fan, I will always remember my first pro football game. It was the Broncos vs. the Chiefs; John Elway vs. Joe Montana. I believe I was 13 at the time and as ecstatic as I should have been I couldn’t help but feel a shortfall for the genuine contention that these quarterbacks felt towards each other, and that feeling was perpetuated by the fact that Joe Montana was not with the 49er’s. It was as if Joe’s great career as a 49er was in the past and therefore his career as a whole was in the past. Who is to say that if Joe would have went to the Super Bowl with the Chiefs his career would have been viewed in a completely different light. I know my view would be different. So now looking back, Joe Montana will forever be a 49er, Jerry Rice will forever be a 49er and Michael Jordan will forever be a Chicago Bull; and why? Championships.
I am a firm believer that winning is what will make or break Peyton Manning as a Denver Bronco. It doesn’t matter if the neck problems completely disappear and he ends up being even better statistically than he ever was with the Colts. If he throws for 5,500 passing yards and the Broncos don’t win a majority of their games, then Peyton will not be a Denver Bronco. If he throws over 50 touchdown passes this season or the next and they don’t make the Super Bowl, Peyton Manning will not be a Denver Bronco. Even if he achieves all of these things and makes it to the Super Bowl, only to lose, he still will not be a Denver Bronco.
I must acknowledge the world that we live in and I must recognize that fans want to see wins, and they want championships. Peyton Manning has obtained one ring, but will he ever find his way to another one? If and when he does, he will then be a Denver Bronco. He will always be an Indianapolis Colt, but give the fans one Super Bowl win and that tune will sound a little different. I believe this to be true because there has never been an athlete at such an important position to take his team to a championship on one team and then do it again on another. As a Broncos fan I believe that we could have the very quarterback to take us to another Super Bowl. I have followed Peyton’s career and I have faith that he could be the athlete that defies the odds that past history has shown us and do what the likes of Joe Montana and Michael Jordan have never done. Once again, I say that as a Broncos fan. Reality shows us that the odds of him ever getting back to the Super Bowl, never-the-less winning, are astronomical. In fact, who’s to say that his Indianapolis predecessor, Andrew Luck, doesn’t have a better chance at going to the “big game” than he does?
Peyton Manning has proved to be one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history. He has even proven to be one of the best overall athletes in the history of sports. The man is a walking computer. So this begs one of the most philosophical questions for athletes and sports fans alike, and how it relates to self-worth, and that is, “is he or she good enough?” Already his younger brother has surpassed him in Super Bowl wins. The sports media has kept his worthiness in a constant debate. Now, in an ideal world, he has been given a few more years in a new town with a new team that has tons of potential. The Peyton Manning debate has now gotten hotter than ever and the next few years of his career could be more interesting than the last 13, especially since he sat out his 14th year. He has had four neck surgeries and he is not getting any younger so things could not be further up in the air for Peyton and the Broncos than they are right now. All I know is that I have got my #18 Bronco’s jersey and I will say again…..I am a Broncos fan.