Peyton Manning Needs To Walk Away


It was an absolutely perfect convergence of events that led to “The Sheriff” ending his rodeo with a Lombardi Trophy.

“It was a very special night,” an exhausted Peyton Manning said following the Broncos 24-10 victory over the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50.

It should be Manning’s last game.

There is absolutely no reasonable scenario where it makes sense for the future Hall of Fame quarterback to come back and play in the 2016 season.

If Manning returns to play next year, it won’t be in Denver.  The Broncos are going to move on at quarterback with pending free agent Brock Osweiler or someone else, and they should.  The Sheriff did nothing to actually win Super Bowl 50.  He didn’t make big throws and head coach Gary Kubiak directed quite possibly the first successful “prevent offense” in the biggest game in sports.

Manning wasn’t even a game manager, and someone as mediocre as Chad Henne could have directed the Broncos to victory with that game plan and legendary defensive effort.

“I’m just glad I was on the same team as our defense and didn’t have to play against them,” Manning said.

With the Broncos impending free agents on the defensive line, they can’t bring Manning back next season.

The Budweiser/Papa Johns/Nationwide spokesman knows that.

So what is he going to do, revive his career with another team?

Which team would sign him?

The Los Angeles Rams have reportedly expressed (illegal) interest.  Is Manning a better option than Nick Foles or Case Keenum?  The fact that you even can ask that question is reason enough not to play.  And the Rams have tried dragging a non-playmaking quarterback to the postseason with solid defense, and all it has got them was to 7-9.

Manning isn’t good enough to lead a team that could be close over the edge.  Is he a better option than Brian Hoyer for the Houston Texans?  Would anyone in their right mind take him over Andy Dalton in Cincinnati?  Of course not.

At this point in his career, it’s difficult to pinpoint a starting quarterback in the NFL that he would be an upgrade over.

Cleveland?  Josh McCown played better in 2015.

Tennessee?  Not only was Marcus Mariota better, he’s entering his second year.

He would be a solid fit for the Dallas Cowboys as Tony Romo’s backup, but Manning’s ego is too big to be anyone’s backup, especially a quarterback like Romo who has a small fraction of his credentials.

If Manning is going to come back, it has to be as a backup quarterback.  Does anyone really want to see that?

He was asked in his on field interview following the victory by CBS’ Tracy Wolfson about retirement.

“I don’t know the answer to that,” Manning said. “I talked to (former Indianapolis coach)Tony Dungy last week and he said that he got some good advice from Dick Vermeil and I think maybe Bill Cowher as well about not making an emotional decision one way or the other. So I think that was good advice to kind of let this sink in. It’s been an emotional week, emotional night, and the night is just beginning. I look forward to celebrating with my friends and family and I think I’ll take some time after that. Like I said, I am going to enjoy the night, take it one step at a time.”

Manning has the rare opportunity to go out on top with a championship.  This postseason run of handing the ball off and watching Von Miller terrorize opposing quarterbacks has erased the miserable showing against Kansas City which saw him benched until the regular season finale.

If he were to come back and actually get on the field, there would likely be more moments like he had against the Chiefs, as well as taking more abuse.

“I think I’ll make a good decision,” Manning said, “and I think I’ll be at peace with it, whichever way it goes.”

It’s time, Peyton.  I think you know it.


About Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein is the managing football editor for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade.  Charlie has hosted drive time radio for NBC and ESPN affiliates in different markets around the country, along with being an NFL correspondent for ESPN Radio and WFAN.  He has been featured on the NFL Network as well as Sirius/XM NFL Radio and has been published on Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN as well as numerous other publications.