Peyton Manning just bailed John Elway out in a humongous way.
Having lived everywhere from Boston to San Francisco, I have seen the contrast between the big market sports cities as well as the blip-on-the-radar organizations. You don’t see a player the magnitude of Peyton Manning choose to play up in the mountains when he could have chosen to play just about anywhere.
You can say Denver was the closest to being a contender, but are they any more of a championship-caliber team than San Francisco? Manning turned down his hometown Tennessee Titans and a lifetime contract with the organization as well as a chance to take his talents to South Beach and play in the Florida sunshine.
Not to mention the Broncos might just have the ugliest uniforms in the league.
So why would a first-ballot Hall of Famer pack up and move to the Rocky Mountains when he could have expanded his marketability in a bigger city?
In my opinion it comes down to one thing: fraternity.
Manning will be a unanimous Hall of Fame quarterback exactly five years from the day he retires just like his new boss, John Elway. No matter what it is, it’s only human nature to help out someone you know or you have a connection to. Whether it’s that you went to the same school or are related somehow, a lot of where we get in life is by who we know and the connections we make.
I think Manning just did a solid for a guy he wants to grow up to be like.
When Manning retires it won’t be to hit up a golf course. If he doesn’t go into coaching, he wants to run a team like Elway is doing with the Broncos. Elway found himself stuck between a rock and a Tebow, and Manning was his ticket out of the circus. No matter how rabid the Tebow fans have been in Denver, no one can complain about signing Manning. He was the one guy that Elway could bring in that would appease the masses and give him the chance to avoid the public outcry of shipping Tebow out of town.
Tebow was drafted prior to Elway joining the front office and was never his guy. He said all the right things but as soon as he could, he put Tebow on the next flight out of town. When it comes to sports, high school never ends. The jocks have their own click and the stars of the team form an inner click to their circle and the better they are, the more elite the group is.
Manning won’t complain about the market, he won’t whine about the fans and he just might take them to a Super Bowl. But one thing is certain: No matter what happens from this point forward, Elway owes Manning big-time.
When you make your way to the next level and move into Hall of Fame territory, it’s never a bad thing to have one of the greatest to ever play the game owe you one.
By Jonathan Boldt
Jonathan Boldt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow him on Twitter @jboldt24.