Twelve days after being cut from the team that drafted him number 1 overall in 1998, Peyton Manning apologized to media members in Denver about taking to long to make up his mind. The question: which team will the quarterback choose? Broncos, Titans, or 49ers? He joined owner Pat Bowlen and VP of Football Operations, NFL Hall of Famer and two time Super Bowl winner John Elway in announcing his signing with the Denver Broncos. With his comfort level staying intact by remaining in the AFC, his first visit on his tour of free agency seemed to make a lasting impression.
Manning also notedly visited the Arizona Cardinals and the Tennessee Titans and fielded visitation from the Miami Dolphins
and the San Franscisco 49ers before, fielded calls and inquiries from many other teams, and threw for three teams exclusively.
Manning, as reported by ESPN and The Denver Post, signed a 5 year, $96 Million deal, $18 million to be paid in 2012. Conditions of the contract are as follows:
– He is to be paid $20 million in 2013 & 2014 if he passes a team physical each year that is given 10 days after the league year starts.
– He is reported to make $19 million in 2015 & 2015 but has to also pass a physical before each year.
– The most interesting, and smart thing in this contract (I bet the Colts wished they could have thought of this last year, but since they did not give him a physical. Stupid.) An injury clause, stating that if he reinjures his neck in the 2013 season, the Broncos do not have to pay his 2014 salary.
“I’m not where I want to be. I want to be where I was before I was injured. There’s a lot of work to do to get where we want to be from a health standpoint.”
On Tim Tebow:
I know what kind of player Tim Tebow is, what kind of person he is, what an awesome year it was. If Tim Tebow is here, I’m going to be the best teammate. If other opportunities are presented to him, I’m going to wish him the best.
For more snippets and quotes visit The Denver Post webiste and their excellent coverage here.
Manning, who turns 36 on March 24th, will be 41 years old with as many neck surgeries as he has regular season MVP
awards. Becoming a Bronco can either do one of two things for Peyton’s legacy: improve it to, perhaps, Elway like prominence late in his career, or put a bad ending on 14 years of brilliance. Manning knows what is at stake, that’s why this decision took 12 days. The thoughtful, calculating, and planning four moves ahead of you Manning knows what he has to do, and he hasn’t even worked out with any of his young and talented recievers and work with John Fox and his offensice coaching staff, which he cannot do until after April 14th.
What Manning can also do is perhaps bring some old teammates along, with tight end Dallas Clark and lifetime battery mate, center Jeff Saturday to top the Rockies. All in all, with Las Vegas’ MGM Grand moving the Broncos from 75-1 to 9-1 odds to win next years’ Super Bowl, it’s a no-brainer that even the idea of a healthy Peyton Manning adds a powerful asset to an organization. Today, those odds are 8-1.What Peyton now faces are fans who are still high off Tebow and often too late and too often misfires turned to heroics (besides that pass in overtime against the Steelers in the playoffs. Perhaps the most beautiful pass I have ever seen him throw, and I have watched A LOT of his football play, up close during Georgia-Florida game). He faces the triumphs and the tragedies of his own body, worn out from almost 20 years of quarterbacking excellence, and faced with the promise and expectation of five more years at peak performance. He faces new things, new coaches, a new city, a new day, a new perception to who he is as an athlete, as a star, as the field general he was before he missed a full season. This could be epic in so many ways. Since March 7th, Manning has been the most epic free agent ever. Now he has a home.
Let’s hope it’s not a fail.
Information, statistics, quotes and photos from ESPN, The Denver Post, The Huffington Post, and Yahoo! Sports.