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Thanksgiving edition: We're thankful for Peyton Manning

Colin Daniels Avatar
November 25, 2015



It’s been a rough a couple of weeks for Peyton Manning, to say the very least. It’s difficult to imagine what the prideful veteran must be going through.

On the 8th of this month Manning limped out of “The House that Peyton Built,” also known as Lucas Oil Stadium, after getting beat by the kid who replaced him in Indy.

On the 15th he broke the all-time NFL passing yardage record only to follow the honor up with the worst performance of his professional career, ultimately to see himself replaced by Brock Osweiler – not just for the remainder of the Chiefs game – but quite possibly for good.

His foot hurts but surely not as badly as his ego does.

Fans have taken delight in seeing young number 17 finally get his chance. The days of getting waved off by Manning seem to be over. Brock Osweiler is an instant star in Denver having willed the Broncos to a victory over the Bears in his very first start and now they have made it clear that their 2012 second-round pick will retain the helm for the foreseeable future, starting with a game at home versus the world champion Patriots.

The anticipated seventeenth “Manning/Brady game” will instead be the first ever “Brady/Osweiler game” and Peyton will be forced to watch, either from the sideline or from a coaches box.

For the first time since he had his neck reconstructed Manning is not the Man, but he’s no turkey either.

It’s time for giving thanks. As we settle in with our families to break bread and reflect on the myriad of reasons for which we’re grateful, let’s not forget to appreciate what Peyton Manning has meant to Broncos Country.

From the moment number 18 first visited Denver in flirtation with the Broncos, he has brought excitement. The courting of Peyton was among the most memorable periods in team history and when it was announced that he would sign here, John Elway instantly became one of the most admired executives in professional football. Elway was able to bring the Tebow era to the most graceful end imaginable and forge ahead with “no plan B” thanks to Peyton.

Denver has been in Super Bowl or bust mode for four years. Most teams are lucky to have aspirations so high from one season to the next. Peyton Manning’s very stature has insured that the Broncos are never a rebuilding team. John Elway said it himself; it’s not “win now” it’s “win from now on.”

That kind of confidence would not exist if Manning hadn’t come on the scene. His presence has given John Elway the leeway to focus on improving every aspect of the Denver Broncos. Nothing gives a GM more flexibility than the feeling that the quarterback position is in good hands. And boy has it it been.

Even though Manning’s many, many seasons as a Colt made up the bedrock of his career, the crust was formed in Denver. When his bust is enshrined in Canton many of the mind-boggling records he will have etched into the plaque will have been earned in Orange and Blue, including most TD passes in a season, most career touchdown passes, most 300 yard passing games, most touchdowns in a single game (tie), most games with a perfect passer rating, highest yards per game in a season and, of course, the all-time passing yardage record.

We got to see all of that happen. What a privilege. Having a career like Manning’s be associated with the Denver Broncos is something we should all be thankful for.

But what about the wins? Manning is 45-12 as a regular season starter for the Broncos. Yes, he has given Broncos fans four times as many reasons to smile as he has losses in his time here. His post-season starts haven’t gone as planned necessarily but he did get the Broncos back to the Super Bowl for the first time since 1999 and that’s nothing to sneeze at.

Because Peyton has been here the Broncos have been a destination team for free agents and sweethearts in the eyes of the national media. They’ve been highlighted in prime time more often than any other team not named the Patriots and they’ve earned fans all over the world. Number 18 Broncos jerseys have steadily been among the top sellers at NFLshop.com and they’re almost as likely to be seen in other cities as they are here in Denver.

Peyton Manning has helped to create a Denver Broncos fan base all over the world.

Will Peyton Manning ever take another snap as the starting quarterback of the Denver Broncos? Maybe. Maybe not. Who knows? Will he really play another year for another team? Only he can answer that – and it’s doubtful that even he knows at this point.

What we all know, though, is that Peyton Manning will go down as the second-most important quarterback in Denver Broncos history. He’s somebody we will tell our grandchildren about, perhaps around the dinner table during a Thanksgiving feast.


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