Monday, March 19, 2012

*Manning's Denver Decision Could Kill Tebow Mania

Peyton Manning vs. Tim Tebow: When one soap opera meets another. 
(photo courtesy of via Getty Images)
The most talked about free agent sweepstakes in the history of professional football seems to have a winner. The same city that lived the legend of Tebow mania will swiftly turn the page this off-season and usher in another new era. There’s this guy, he goes by the name of Peyton Manning, I hear he can play a little bit of football, and it looks like he’s just jacked Tim Tebow for his job in Denver.  

When it became evident that Peyton's career-long tenure in Indianapolis was over, the media instantly flooded our brain space with speculation about where Peyton would wind up. He had meetings in Arizona and Miami, with local cameramen covering every angle. He also met officials in Tennessee where he played college ball, and San Francisco where they were bringing in all the attractive supporting cast membersthey could to lure the four-time league MVP. Ultimately it was John Elway’s Broncos that won out, according to reports close to the negotiations. 
(photo courtesy of

Obviously any team in the league would be happy to have a guy of Peyton Manning's calibre on board. What makes this signing curious is the fact that the Broncos already have arguably the most popular player in football taking snaps for them. The debate about Tim Tebow's legitimacy as a starting NFL quarterback has raged since the day he was drafted, and on this issue it seems like even his biggest supporters have their doubts. Elway and the Broncos are now reportedly exploring trade scenarios for Tebow, basically throwing in the towel on what was a shaky, but exciting and compelling team dynamic.

Manning presents a massive opportunity for the Broncos to take a strong step towards contention. The potential for high rewards isn't debatable, however this deal is probably a higher risk than most people care to say. Manning is 36 years old and coming off of the first major injury of his career, an injury that had critics questioning whether or not he would ever play football again. Tebow is far from a safe bet, but to ship out a young star, regardless if that stardom is duly warranted, for a rapidly aging one could be their undoing. Manning can't have that much football left in him, and skills have a tendency to decline in the latter years of a player's career.

Tebow won't be going to Miami, where he played in college and is a living football deity, as reports have David Garrard now signing there. There is speculation linking him to Jacksonville however, another Florida-based franchise in which he could thrive and grow into a quarterback more befitting of his status. That could be a major pie in the face of the Broncos in about 2-3 years time when Peyton is retired comfortably and Jacksonville is entrenched in renewed Tebow mania. 
(photo courtesy of
 There is no real correct stance to take on this if you’re John Elway. There couldn’t have been many teams out there that weren’t interested, on one level or another, in Peyton Manning. He’s a surefire first-ballot hall of fame quarterback. It’s just not that often that we see general managers in any sport moving out youth in favor of age. It goes against typical team-building mantras.

There is one scenario in which this becomes a grand slam (winning the Manning sweepstakes is already a home run): If the Broncos can convince Tim Tebow to stay on board as a backup. Tebow is an athletic specimen whose career has been plagued with criticisms about his throwing arm and play-reading abilities. Peyton Manning is in many respects the anti-Tebow; a true quarterback’s quarterback who thrives on his instincts and mastery of the intangibles of the game. Could there ever be a more perfect mentor? If there was a quarterback in the world that could help Tebow become the dominant force he was in college, wouldn't it be Peyton Manning? 

Alas, football is also a game of egos, and even a humble man of god like Tim Tebow is probably feeling a bit slighted by the signing. If Tebow can turn the other cheek however, he and Manning could prove to a be a formidable 1-2 punch behind centre, and that might be the only scenario that sees Tim Tebow become the star that the American public wants him to be.

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