Manning at HOF: The time we thought the No.18 was playing his last game as a Bronco

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This weekend will mark the official start of the 2021 NFL season as the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers will play tonight in the annual Hall of Fame game.

It will also mark the last NFL accolade for one of the greatest players of all time – former Broncos (and Colts) quarterback Peyton Manning, who will be Listed in the Professional Football Hall of Fame Sunday night as a First Round Hall of Fame member with the 2021 class.

So in honor of the man who gave the Denver Broncos four years of greatness and one of our most exciting super bowl seasons, I decided to repost three of my favorite articles on Manning.

Many of you know that I got to Mile High Report through my “Dear Mr. Manning” post that Kyle highlighted in MHR before joining the staff (this will forever be my favorite result after writing this open letter, which started out as a simple post on my Facebook page – lol).

This first choice may surprise you. Rather than go with the obvious “letter” to Manning after the Super Bowl 48 loss, I wanted to highlight one of my personal favorites – the story I wrote after Manning was put on the job. bench against the Chiefs after four interceptions. I was at the game, enjoying the boxes with TJ Ward’s family because I was there to write an article about his “Boss of the Month” winner (also a good story if you’re looking for more nostalgic reading material), so I witnessed the bench firsthand. I think it made me sadder than seeing him suffer through SB48.

So with most of the stuff about this 2015 season and Peyton Manning, knowing how it all ended up makes it easier to go back and remember the heartbreaking moments.

This game was one of them.

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When No.17 enters Soldier Field today, it will have one number – and years and years of experience – less than No.18.

But while Brock Osweiler doesn’t have the hundreds of comebacks, the five NFL MVPs, the 14 Pro Bowl appearances or the 539 touchdowns that Petyon Manning has, he has the starting job for the Broncos today.

And maybe for a lot more.

This potential fact is creating all kinds of consternation in Broncos country this week. Fans who came to the Broncos with Manning or fans who kissed him since joining the Mile High franchise in 2012 find themselves at a crossroads with their loyalty, adhering to a false narrative that they can’t. not be happy with Osweiler because it means the end of Manning.

Broncos Country, I understand your conflicting feelings, and I’m here to tell you that it’s going to be fine.

I am the biggest Peyton Manning fan in the world. This fact is well documented. And frankly, “fan” doesn’t even come close to describing my admiration for the man.

So it isn’t – and hasn’t been – easy to see the future legend and current icon having the kind of game he’s had against Kansas City – four steals and just five goals, bringing the season’s stats. with only nine touchdowns but 17 picks. The fact that it happened on the same day Manning broke the NFL all-time passing yard record was just a cruel irony.

Manning’s Mortality

If it was another quarterback on Sunday, we would all have been furious with the result on the scoreboard and had varying levels of loathing for the game on the pitch. We would certainly have been happy to put the choke on the bench.

But in Manning’s case, watching one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history reveal his mortality so obviously, so quickly, and so publicly just hurt.

Even Broncos fans who haven’t been on Manning’s train this season – as well as many fans of teams who dislike the cerebral quarterback who has too often dissected their team like a frog in a lab of biology – felt a hint of anguish watching a single GOAT on the sidelines.

Manning had such a profound impact on the teams he played for, the entire NFL, football in general and the sport as a whole, that it was difficult last Sunday to separate the man from the football player. .

Very few athletes can say that about their time in the spotlight. And Manning has spent more time in the limelight than most in professional sport. already.

As I watched his starting work for the Broncos fade away perhaps on a bright Colorado Sunday afternoon, it was hard to define my emotions. While I was happy as a Broncos fan to finally see some life in our offense, I admit there was a part of me that didn’t want Brock Osweiler to be. too much more succeeded that Manning That day. It wasn’t that I wanted Brock to hurt. Quite the contrary, and it was really exciting to see the potential for future success under Oz.

It was just that it wasn’t the scenario I had hoped for for Manning. While every fan wants Lombardi, and many of us think Manning deserves one, my hope for Manning was different. I was hoping he would play well, the team would compete well, and whatever the end of the season (because there are too many factors beyond your control that shape the end of the season), Broncos fans could cheering on the sheriff’s sunset – with or without a trophy.

Manning’s Beauty

I was prepared, of course, for a fight this season and figured there would be rough waters in Denver near playoff time when the patchwork wins of the regular season weren’t enough. I wasn’t prepared for a collapse in Week 10 at home against a team that Manning has owned for most of his career and certainly as Bronco. And while I was as disappointed as Manning was in his performance, I was more disappointed with the narrative that surrounded a man who did nothing but try to improve himself and those who did. surround.

I didn’t want to admit that it could be No.18’s play – not the Chiefs ‘defense or the running backs’ incompetence or the constant holes in the offensive line – stopping the Broncos from doing anything right. last Sunday.

But the further I step away from the photo of Manning on the sidelines watching his replacement take over, the more I can understand that while it wasn’t my story for Manning, his story goes. always be remarkable.

And I have to be a part of it. We all need to be part of it.

We must all be a part of it

In fact, the beauty of Manning is that so many people – from his own fans to fans of not just football but sports in general – appreciate all that he means in the NFL and professional sports.

As a graduate student in Alabama, I saw Manning tear up my Crimson Tide more than once. Still loved him.

As a Broncos fan, I’ve had to endure Manning and his Colts ending our playoff hopes too often. Still admired him.

Now, years later, as a fan of the Broncos, I had the opportunity to experience Manning’s revival of our franchise both through his own skills and the reputation that came before him. , allowing the Broncos to attract top talent year after year. Will always appreciate it.

And as a humanitarian fan, I have witnessed the genuine concern Manning has for the communities in which he plays. Love it.

I can’t think of another player who left such a lasting impact wherever he went – starting with college and continuing in every team he’s played for and in every city he’s lived …even after leaving.

It is for this reason more than most that it is difficult to separate the man from the player and to be able to accept the passage from legend to heir.

But at some point it has to be done, and Manning, before anyone else, gets it.

In a very unfair way, that Manning’s time in the NFL perhaps ends unceremoniously – but still so graciously – is appropriate. Because if there was ever a player who could appreciate the game more than himself, it is Manning.

With victories, he highlights others. With losses, he only points to himself. With the records, he insists that a man doesn’t win them. When he broke the NFL passing record against Kansas City, he wasn’t happy that the NFL stopped the game to recognize him.

In the face of loss, he’s always been the tallest man – congratulating Ray Lewis on a fantastic career moments after the Ravens claimed a comeback win from the Broncos in 2012 or checking Richard Sherman’s injury after a Super Bowl who saw Manning and his Broncos get crushed in horrendous ways.

So when the NFL passing yard record holder was sidelined on Sunday in favor of a guy who has never played a full regular season game, he showed no lack of respect on the sidelines nor given a list of excuses in the press conference. Instead, he accepted that he hadn’t played well enough to keep the job.

This is not an obituary for Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning.

It’s his biggest fan who says that while Sunday’s situation was hard to come to terms with, it has to be accepted. For how long remains to be determined.

I believe in Manning. I still have.

I wish Manning would make one more miraculous comeback

Whether he comes back as a starter or never comes back to the playing field again, I think his story will end well because Manning will make sure he does. He will compete as much as he can and try to win – get his job back, win the match, take the trophy. And if none of that happens, he’ll thank the Denver Broncos, thank his fans, thank the NFL for giving him 18 years to be the best quarterback he can be.

He won’t complain about himself. He won’t complain. He won’t point a finger. And he will never cease to be the Peyton Manning we all admire.

So, we also don’t have to feel sorry, complain or point fingers.

I encourage Manning to make one more miraculous comeback to get the professional football farewell he has undeniably deserved.

But if it turns out that I attended Manning’s last game in the NFL when I sat down at Mile High last week, I won’t remember it for the loss. by Manning.

I will remember it for all that we won just by having Manning.

… And then I’ll go and cheer on n ° 17.



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