When John Elway and company brought Peyton Manning into the Broncos organization they doubled down on the chance to win now. They knew the odds were that Manning gave them two or three years to get Denver a Super Bowl victory. After that, who knows what could happen.
This Super Bowl was the last legitimate shot Manning and Denver had to hoist that Lombardi trophy. Even if Peyton Manning comes back, it’s clear that it’s just not likely he can continue to put up the ridiculous numbers of this season. To take nothing away from the Seahawks, it’s clear that, as intelligent a football player he is, his arm is losing it’s power. He might not have really had the stamina for a full year this year. There’s no way he’ll be stronger or faster next year. He can only go downhill. At best, he will look almost as good as this year (and I don’t know if that’s enough for them to win, based on Sunday nights performance). At worst, He’ll have a year like Brett Favre had his last year with the Vikings, which was very ugly and depressing. (of course there’s the possibility his old body suffers an injury and ends his career that way. I hope that doesn’t happen for him). And that’s bad news for the Broncos.
John Elway created a short-term Super contender for the Super Bowl. But all that falls apart when Manning doesn’t play any more. Unless Denver has a secret weapon they’ve developed over the past couple years (Tim Tebow, who people thought might be the guy, got traded into the biggest fiasco in recent memory) then they’ve got nothing to hang their hats on. They probably can’t draft a great QB this year with their low draft spot. While this short-term formula paid great dividends, and fell just short of a championship twice, the front office may have condemned “Mile High” to long-term playoff futility if they can’t find a replacement once Manning is gone. Then they get to watch Andrew Luck and the Colts consistently contend for Super Bowl berths. If that isn’t pouring salt in the wound, then I don’t know what is.
I could be wrong. It’s two days after the Super Bowl. Maybe Denver does have a contingency plan for if/when Manning is gone for good. Maybe they have a QB who is prepared to step in. Anything is possible in this league. But from where I stand now, The Broncos and their fans may have enjoyed their time in the limelight, and now they go back to the age of futility they suffered through since their GM retired as a player in the league.
If that’s true, then my sympathies to Denver and their fans. You put all your eggs in Manning’s basket. And you got close. Really close. But no cigar, as they say. Maybe it’s a little to soon, but I’m calling this the Eulogy for the Peyton Manning era in Denver. R.I.P, Denver Broncos. See you in the rebuilding laboratory.