March 19, 2012
Ego tells Manning to pick Broncos
By John Kryk, QMI Agency
His brain probably said Niners. His heart probably said Titans.
In the end, Peyton Manning left his head in San Francisco, his heart in Tennessee and on Monday chose the Denver Broncos as his new NFL home.
We're betting it's because his football ego said Broncos.
That is, he figured he'd likely have the most say, and most control, of the specific workings of his new offence in Denver.
His Royal Highness will end all such speculation and tell us precisely why he chose the Broncos at a news conference Tuesday, or whenever all the final T's are crossed on his new contract with the AFC West club.
Early Monday afternoon, ESPN reported that Manning -- the biggest-name free agent in NFL history -- had "decided to join the Broncos," citing multiple sources. Numerous other media subsequently backed up the report.
Manning called Broncos executive John Elway Monday morning to "tell him he's looking forward to playing" for him, and he informed the Titans and 49ers of that decision.
It was believed that Manning's agent, Tom Condon, and the Broncos would have a contract hammered out by late afternoon Monday, yet by 9:30 p.m. EDT there still was no word of an agreement. But no deal-breaking hurdles existed, reports said.
With Manning coming in, Tim Tebow is on the way out. Denver's 2011 phenom starter at quarterback soon will be put on the trading block, NFL Network's Albert Breer reported. The Broncos already have tested those waters, Breer said.
Having a big say in his new offence, I think, was Manning's overriding factor. Even if he never admits it.
How do we know the Broncos will cede that level of authority to Manning, and mould their offence to his every wish? Well, if head coach John Fox and his staff would completely rebuild a new offence last season around a ham-and-egger like Tim Tebow, then they'll sure as hell give carte blanche to a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer-to-be.
Manning, 35, might even have received such an assurance from Elway, himself a first-ballot Hall of Famer who played his whole career in Denver and now is the club's front-office executive in charge of football operations.
It was hard to imagine Jim Harbaugh ever surrendering anywhere near that much control to Manning in San Francisco, no matter how much closer to a Super Bowl berth Manning would have been with the Niners, what with their NFL-best defence.
Both Harbaugh brothers, let alone just Jim, have a specific idea as to how best to build a winning team in the NFL -- a strong defence, and an old-fashioned, gritty, run-centred offence whose most successful passes come off play-action, sometimes even to wideouts.
That's not Peyton Manning. And ceding that much control to his quarterback is not Jim Harbaugh.
Tennessee, I think, would have been a sentimental choice at best. And maybe only that. Tennesseans have been in love with Manning since his legendary college career with the Tennessee Volunteers in the mid-1990s.
The Titans aren't a bad team, but when the owner publicly puts a gun to the heads of his football people to get a deal done with Manning, or else, well, that seems to have been the kind of approach Manning wanted nothing to do with.
Ask Stephen Ross and the Miami Dolphins.
Or, as we learned Monday, the Seattle Seahawks. Like the similarly hot-to-host-him Kansas City Chiefs, Manning never gave the Seahawks a sniff. And we're betting it was in part because Seahawks brass flew into Denver on March 9 in a failed attempt to whisk Manning up to the Northwest.
Whatever approach Elway and the Broncos employed, soft-sell or otherwise, it worked.
Thus ends Peyton Watch -- a 12-day circus maximus of media speculation, carefully arranged news and video leaks, private-jet flight tracking, breathless Twitter alerts 'round the clock, and those always-exciting long-lens images of principals walking slowly toward the opened doors of nondescript cars.
Let's just hope his neck holds out, so we don't have to do all this again.