Time for Peyton Manning to come home. For good.

Peyton Manning (Photo: Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

Peyton Manning
(Photo: Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

I love Peyton Manning. Peyton Manning made me a fanatical football fan. One of the most heartbreaking days of my life was the day Peyton Manning left the Indianapolis Colts. And his homecoming as a Bronco was no easier. Peyton Manning is the reason I have football blogs, and Twitter followers, and talk on the radio.

Which is why it hurts me so badly to say this…

But, it’s time for Peyton Manning to retire.

He’s won football games, and playoff games, and a Super Bowl. He’s broken record upon NFL record.

But age and injury and surgery have finally caught up with him. Peyton Manning isn’t the Peyton Manning that I used to know. He may be at times. And his football mind is sharper than ever. But as each season goes on, his laser rocket arm can’t consistently deliver. And there isn’t enough time for his aging body to recover.

Peyton Manning got booed by his own fans in Denver last week. And selfishly, I just can’t stand to see it. I can’t endure a quarterback controversy or listen to screams to bench the future Hall of Famer in favor of someone younger. Not when that quarterback is My Peyton.

He’s got a family now and his health and more money than he can ever spend. And endless opportunities in football. And a fan base back in Indianapolis that aches to welcome him back. And retire his jersey. And build him a statue. And reminisce about the good old days while shedding tears of both joy and sadness…

And end his legendary career right where it began.

I’m coming home

I’m coming home

Tell the world I’m coming home

Let the rain wash away all the pain of yesterday

I know my kingdom awaits and they’ve forgiven my mistakes

I’m coming home, I’m coming home

Tell the world I’m coming…home

Come home, Peyton.

We’re waiting.

XO

In Defense Of the Denver Scoreboard Operator 

Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (Photo: Ron Chenoy/US Presswire)

Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning
(Photo: Ron Chenoy/US Presswire)

Alright, Peyton. Calm down. Or you’re going to pop a vein in that big noggin of yours.

Yes, you are Peyton Manning. You control every facet of the game…every snap, every down, every call, and every cheer. But, there are some things that even you cannot control. Yes, I just said that.

And human nature is one of them.

On Thursday night, the Denver Broncos were up 35-21 on the San Diego Chargers. There were two minutes left in the game. During the break, the Denver scoreboard operator decided to have some fun.

Peyton Manning was not amused.

“I’m not sure what he’s doing. He’s playing music and showing our players dancing and getting the crowd fired up when we have the ball. I don’t think we should be doing that. I don’t think we should be showing their quarterback on the sideline. I thought it was disrespectful.”

–Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning

Oddly enough, it was Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers who was on the sideline smiling and laughing throughout.

Now, this scoreboard operator is probably a guy who’s getting paid ten dollars an hour. He probably has a family. He’s probably a huge Broncos fan. And he was probably still buzzed on adrenaline, having just watched you break the NFL touchdown record a few nights ago.

I know you never had this problem in Indianapolis. I guess some fans are just more trainable than others.

Still, the Peyton I know would have called the guy down to the locker room, reviewed the Peyton Manning Rules of Crowd Control with him (over a beer), then patted him on the back and sent him on his way.

I know you’re “The Sheriff.” And I know that being a control freak is part of what earned you that title. But, really? Calling the guy out in the media? Come on, Peyton. You’re better than that.

Also, when you make Philip Rivers look good-natured…it’s time to reexamine your life.

Just saying.

Now, go find someone your own size to pick on. Maybe a kicker. Or Eli.

XO

Congratulations, Peyton!

Peyton Manning (AAron Ontiveroz/Denver Post)

Peyton Manning
(Photo: AAron Ontiveroz/Denver Post)

Dear Peyton,

Everyone and their mother (including my mother) has asked me if I’m writing about you and your big moment this week. I said yes, but in all honesty…I don’t really know what to say.

Does no one make a card for the guy who breaks an NFL record who used to be your quarterback but isn’t anymore?

The truth of the matter is, I’m happy for you. You’re right where you belong, at the top of your game and at the top of the NFL. As both a former and current fan, I couldn’t be prouder.

Like you, I don’t really get excited about records. Because even though 509 NFL touchdowns is a huge milestone and a big number, all records will eventually be broken. 510? As I was saying…

To me, it was never about the number of touchdowns. It was always about your next touchdown. Because I always knew you had it in you. When others gave up, lost hope, left the game, or went to bed, I knew better. I knew that if you had the ball, my team always had a chance. And a good chance at that.

Numbers will be surpassed, records will be broken, but some things stand the test of time. How you made people feel is one of them. And you always made me feel hopeful. For that, I will always be grateful.

You’re more than a number, Peyton. You’re a legend.

Even if the numbers got you there, it’s the stories that go with them that will keep you here. In my heart. Forever. Long after the numbers (and your number) is retired.

Thanks for the memories.

I didn’t need you to break another record to know you’re the best.

But…

Congratulations anyway!

XO

Wes Welker: I Was Roofied

Broncos WR Wes Welker at the Kentucky Derby in May

Broncos WR Wes Welker at the Kentucky Derby in May

Oh, Wes Welker. You are killing me right now. And not because you got nabbed by the NFL for violation of the banned substances policy. You’re not even on my fantasy team. And with four of them, I basically own everyone.

What kills me, is that you…a grown man, a football player, and a professional athlete, went with the line most commonly used by badly behaved sorority girls: “Someone must have put something in my drink.” Come on, man.

Your trip to the Kentucky Derby last May was well documented. You were photographed (in sunglasses) handing out $100 bills after collecting $57,000 on a bet that should have paid out $42,000. But that’s neither here nor there.

It all sounded pretty epic. So epic in fact, that the NFL decided to conduct a random drug test.

And that was before rumors surfaced that you “popped a molly” at the race. Now, I have to be honest. When I first heard that, I thought someone was referring to a drunken sorority girl. But, no. Apparently that’s what they call Ecstasy these days.

Now, who would want to drug an NFL wide receiver at the Kentucky Derby? Maybe, a drunken sorority girl?! Hoping to take advantage of you? Again…come on, man.

And Just to prove you’re only as good as your following on twitter, my girl Kiki comes out with this one:

I’d ask you what you were wearing, but victim blaming is just not cool anymore. But, in a different tone…just what in the hell were you wearing?

welker-derby4

As it turns out, it’s a good thing you won that extra $14,000. You’ll need it to help cover the $700,000 you’re going to lose in game checks the first four weeks of the NFL season.

Looks like you just learned the first rule of gambling: the house always wins.

Or, in your case…the league.

XO

Peyton Manning’s Real Legacy

Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (Photo: (Mark Humphrey/AP)

Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning
(Photo: Mark Humphrey/AP)

There will be much talk about Peyton Manning’s legacy in the days, weeks, and months following Super Bowl XLVIII.

I will be honest…this wasn’t the Peyton Manning legacy story I was hoping to write this week.

The one I was prepared to write, had half written in my head was the one where he wins another Super Bowl, erases all question marks, and goes down in our hearts and minds as the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time).

I didn’t scrap it, because…he’s still Peyton Manning. And he’s still playing (as far as we know). And it’s still stuck in my head. But, it got me thinking about Peyton’s legacy. And legacies in general.

And here’s what I decided…

The thing about titles is that they’re temporary. It’s kind of like being the prettiest girl in school. You may be right now…but there’s always someone younger and cuter coming up behind you. Or, in Peyton’s case…someone younger, stronger, and tanner, with more hair.

You can look at the numbers all day long. I won’t, but others will. Super Bowls, playoff wins versus losses, touchdowns, passing yards…but those records will eventually be broken. By someone. Someday. Possibly many times over.

The legacy that I think will stand the test of time…is how Peyton Manning changed the game.

Drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in 1998, Peyton Manning came into the NFL, not just a quarterback, but a student of the game. Stories of his weekly preparation and near-photographic memory have become almost folklore amongst his former coaches and teammates.

The role of Peyton Manning is that of a quarterback/offensive coordinator hybrid. Manning’s longtime offensive coordinator with the Colts, Tom Moore, used to joke that calling a play out to Peyton Manning was “merely a suggestion.”

Manning raised the bar on the job of the modern era quarterback. Being a leader and gunslinger was no longer sufficient. Nor was relying on athleticism to win games. He had a laser rocket arm, but his real weapon was his razor-sharp mind. To compete against Peyton Manning, or even in the same league with him…all quarterbacks would have to adapt.

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones made headlines in 2013, when he declared that his quarterback, Tony Romo (an avid golfer), would be putting in “Peyton Manning-type time” during the offseason. Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick has talked openly about how much it changed his game when he started studying film and game planning for opponents.

Even Manning’s arch-nemesis, Tom Brady, has called him “the greatest of all time.” Speaking to the NFL Network back in 2011, Brady said of Manning:

“He’s a friend of mine, and someone that I always watch and admire, because he always wants to improve, he always wants to get better, and he doesn’t settle for anything less than the best. So, when you watch the best and you’re able to learn from the best, hopefully that helps me get better.”
-Patriots quarterback Tom Brady on Peyton Manning

And even after mocking him, saying he “throws some ducks,” Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman had nothing but praise for Manning on Twitter. Here’s what he tweeted shortly after defeating him in Super Bowl XLVIII:

Peyton is the Classiest person/player I have ever met! I could learn so much from him! Thank you for being a great Competitor and person”
-Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman (via Twitter) 

I don’t need Peyton to win another Super Bowl or even another game to cement what I believe is his real legacy.

With class, humility, and a good old-fashioned work ethic, Peyton Manning changed the game of football. For the better. Forever. For all of us.

And that, my friends…will be his true and lasting legacy.

XO