Say what you will about the guy but Manning is nothing if not a humble, decent guy. At least looking at him from the outside. His press conference (with owner Jim Irsay, a possibly awkward scenario) was short, sweet, and heartfelt. They both understood the realities of the situation, and the inability of the Colts to take the chance on signing him back. This really does harken back to the Joe Montana/Steve Young situation. Too bad Joe couldn’t quite handle it with the same amount of class. The curious thing is, no one is really sure if Peyton will even be able to play again, let alone be the offensive force he once was. There were questions about Montana’s health, but they weren’t nearly this inconclusive as this deal. Montana went on to have a couple strong years in KC, but they were interspersed with injuries and in the end, disappointment. The breathless media (well, ESPN) at this point is pencilling Peyton for 5 more HOF-type seasons. This of course is based on shakey video that was supposedly taken of him throwing with a helmet and pads on.
Beyond that, Peyton is going to be the most talked-about free agent until he signs with someone. The hype machine will be cranked up to 11 very shortly. Peyton’s available to begin the wooing process at 1:00 pm PST. According to the Talking Heads out there, about 28 of the 32 teams are in the hunt. I think it really comes down to 5 teams. Miami, the Jets, AZ, Seattle, and Washington. Seriously, the 49ers are a non-starter in all this. Miami appears to be the front-runner, for no other reason that it’s location being close to Louisiana, and the fact that Manning has a home near Miami already. Washington, and crazy Dan the telemarketing man, could very well throw something like $75 mill for a 5 year deal for Manning based on nothing but his overarching desire to fling money around like a drunken sailor. The Jets are making a lot of noise about signing him. Kind of interesting, because it certainly is a big kick to the oblongs for Mark Sanchez. The franchise would be relegated to the bench to wait for inevitable injury that Manning would suffer, and would then get right back in there as the starter. Teams like Seattle and AZ have little/nothing to worry about QB-wise to take a shot. Kevin Kolb’s huge deal, and subsequent suckage notwithstanding.
That being said, I don’t feel that AZ or Seattle stand much of a chance. Manning has been an AFC guy his whole career, and to jump across the country AND switch conferences doesn’t feel right. I think the front runners as of now are Miami and the J-E-T-S.
Lastly, if this is any precursor to the other HOF QBs that have moved late in their careers (Johnny Unitas, Joe Namath, Joe Montana, Brett Favre), it doesn’t bode well. Johnny U and Broadway Joe were shells of their former selves, and didn’t do shit. Montana and Favre did well enough for their last couple seasons, but in the end fell short for whatever reason. So, where do you think Peyton lands?