BY OWEN SANBORN
But did it shoot the deputy?
Newsflash: Peyton Manning retired a couple of weeks ago, which means that for the first time in over twenty years, Manning will not be a centerpiece of the public’s football-watching eye. There will be no more lovable “aw shucks” routines during post-game press conferences that captured the hearts of millions while simultaneously turning into a shtick for others over time.
Gone are the epic screeches of “OMAHA!” polluting the airwaves during our Sunday afternoons, relinquishing the championship belt for best random over/under bet you can make with your drunken friend during a game. Playing Madden just got a bit easier without computer Peyton Manning fracturing your ego with his continual checks and audibles before slicing your sorry defense for a touchdown (never fear, this also applies to real-life defenses prior to this past season).
Football is going to be different from here on out, whether you were a fan of Manning’s or not. It is never good for the game to lose one of the best … And I am not just talking about foreheads. (Insert joke drum here.)
Manning’s retirement has left his former employer, the Denver Broncos, in a precarious position of sorts. Should they attempt to take a ride on the back-up quarterback carousel? No team wants to embark on the sorry journey of riding the back-up quarterback carousel. That is where Super Bowl dreams go to die and where Josh McCown, Ryan Fitzpatrick or any other vanilla (do not dismiss the pun) signal caller becomes your starting quarterback for two seasons while the front office is “figuring things out.”
Interestingly, John Elway elected to let Osweiler flee to Houston Texans before trading with the Philadelphia Eagles for the embattled Mark Sanchez — butt-fumble extraordinaire. Sanchez expects to be a good fit in coach Gary Kubiak’s offensive system, but fans of the Broncos have to be shaking in their shorts (or guarding their rear-ends, if you will) with the thought of Sanchez spearheading the quest for a repeat.
The real question that lies within all of this is not “what happens next for Denver?” Instead, the focus should be turned to “what happens next for Peyton?” Does he host Saturday Night Live once a year? (Only if he recreates that legendary “United Way” sketch where he heckles children and chucks footballs at them. Time to make America great again, Mr. Manning.) Could he replace Brett Favre as the king of shave-related infomercials? (Micro Touch seems to be a fantastic product; makes Brett look like he is about five years old.) Maybe he will create his own concert series where he hums the Nationwide tune to various different catch phrases that the audience cooks up for him.
Instead of: “Chicken parm you taste sooo goooood…” We could have a special Tampa-themed: “Gaspy needs to come right nowwwww…” All ten people attending that concert would go WILD.
The only fathomable situation out there is that he takes Papa John on a cross-country tour in a Papa John’s themed bus, throwing out pizza pies to pedestrians while an intern simultaneously shouts out “OMAHA!” over a loudspeaker. This is the only rationale scenario for Manning’s post-retirement life given his semi-hilarious, yet apparently shrewd allegiance to all things Papa John’s Pizza.
In all seriousness, the word on the street in regards to Manning’s football afterlife is that he is going to either seek out a job in the front office of a team (the Tennessee Titans have been rumored in the past), become a key cog in an ownership group (a la Magic Johnson) or become the next great ex-QB to take his talents to the broadcasting booth.
Peyton could follow in the footsteps of Troy Aikman, Phil Simms, Joe Theismann and the immortal Ron Jaworski by trying his hand at broadcasting. This route would not only keep him relevant and in the public eye (something he seems to relish on), but also keep his computer-sized noggin in tune with the world of football. He could give some Jon Gruden style anecdotes while exhibiting a refreshing southern drawl rather than a snarl.
However, if I were a betting man, I would bet against that outcome for Manning. He does not really give off the vibe of being colorful enough to be a color analyst. Each of his takes would relegate into a sea of cliches and the Twitter backlash would be glorious difficult to handle. That is not a knock on the football mind of Manning, rather a jab at the Twitterverse. I would not want to be under the microscope of calling an NFL game with keyboard predators hanging on your every word ready to swallow your manhood whole.
Because of the ghastly scenario described above, Manning will look to obtain a job with a team (much like his former boss Elway) or ingrain himself within an upstart business group that is looking to purchase a franchise. It is the best path of pursuit.
After all, Father Time may have shot The Sheriff’s playing career, but the next chapter of his life is very much alive.