His team has yet to win Sunday’s Super Bowl, but already the speculation is about what happens next.
What do you think?
If Peyton Manning gets his second title with the Broncos, should he retire?
Say “whoa” in your best Bronco voice. Let’s not get way ahead of ourselves.
We’ve got a lot of cheesy commercials and an over-the-top halftime show to get through first, not to mention a football game between the league’s two best teams.
The questions, though, underscore the key theme of the Denver-Seattle matchup for most of the nation.
This is the final step in Peyton’s miraculous comeback. The word miraculous is not taken lightly.
Lest we forget, many thought Manning was done with football just three years ago. Admittedly, I was one of them.
Multiple surgeries on his cervical vertebrae were followed by a prolonged rehab period in which reports of lost arm strength were frequent.
Could he play? Should he play was a question most felt more strongly about. Why risk the chance of more permanent damage? Retire now, many thought.
Of course, it played out more spectacularly than anyone could have imagined.
Not only did Manning come back, he is better. He is everything that made him great pre-injury and more — more tactical, more precise, more confident.
The four-time NFL MVP broke records by throwing for 55 touchdowns and 5,477 yards this season.
The matchup Sunday against Seattle’s top-rated defense promises to be a classic. There is every reason to expect this will be an exceptional game.
Even then, it is just a game.
For 37-year-old Manning, it is a coronation. A win finally shakes the doubters who point to only one Super Bowl title. It is the only hole in a resume that proclaims No. 18 the best football player of his generation.
“I think when people say that, they’re looking for something because he had such a tremendous year,” said Broncos general manager John Elway, who struggled in winning the big game himself. “I mean, what else are you going to talk about with Peyton Manning that’s negative other than, ‘OK, we’ve got to go to his legacy’?”
Just don’t ask Manning about it, as a swarm of reporters learned on Tuesday’s media day.
“I’ve been being asked about my legacy since I was about 25 years old. I’m not sure you can have a legacy when you’re 25 years old. Even 37,” Manning said in response to the first of several invitations to do so. “I’d have to be, like, 70 to have a legacy. I’m not even 100 percent sure what the word even means.”
But what if Manning adds another title to that 2007 Indy crown? Is time to step down?
Not according to fans, 64 percent of whom responded to an ESPN poll by indicating that Manning should keep playing.
Elway certainly thinks there will be more. When he brought in Manning in 2012, he predicted two Super Bowl titles. Denver is on the verge of No. 1.
Like much involving Manning, we will probably hear little from the player himself. Certainly, there will be no Richard Sherman-like rants.
Know that there is vindication, though, a satisfaction deep inside. As Elway said, Manning was stung when the Colts fired him. That served as motivation to consecutive 13-3 seasons and the Super Bowl berth.
Regardless of what happens Sunday, Manning has triumphed in a way few believed could happen. He is back on top.
A few short years ago, it appeared he would retire because he had no choice. Now, through sheer guile and determination, he has fought back to a point where that choice is all his own.
Bob Johnson is a correspondent for the Daily Journal. His columns appear Tuesdays and Fridays. Send comments to email@example.com.