Peyton Manning has nothing left to prove


Graphic by KC Federe/The Pioneer

Erik Khan,

Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, 39, solidified his legacy after he won his second Super Bowl ring. It is time for him to ride off into the sunset and retire a champion.

Those who watched Super Bowl 50 saw Manning in the twilight of his career. Manning had arguably the worst Super Bowl performance of any quarterback on the winning team in history, as he went 13-for-23 for 141 yards, which included an interception and no touchdowns. Those 13 completions came on balls that were thrown soft, not like the Manning of the past who could laser the ball to his receivers no matter the coverage.

The Broncos won the game because of their dominant defense, which suffocated the Panthers offense and budding superstar quarterback Cam Newton, forcing 4 turnovers. This felt strange, as Manning’s past Denver Broncos and Indianapolis Colts teams were led by him and his high-powered offenses. Historically, his defenses have let him down.

It wasn’t just this one game this past season in which Manning underwhelmed, this was statistically the worst season of his 18-year career. In nine starts, he threw 9 touchdowns and 17 interceptions, second most in the league. He consistently threw ugly passes last season, sailing the ball past open receivers and also had zero mobility in the pocket.

Manning was benched in week 11 for backup quarterback Brock Osweiler when Head Coach Gary Kubiak revealed Manning suffered from plantar fasciitis. He returned midway through the Broncos week 17 contest against the Chargers and led them to victory.

Manning’s play in the postseason showed a total shift in his past offensive philosophy. The days of Manning throwing it 40 plus times a game were gone. Instead, the Bronco’s offense centered around Manning handing the ball off to running backs, Oakland native CJ Anderson and Ronnie Hillman. Manning had officially become a game manager, and has barely been able to get by.

While Manning insists he has not made a decision on his future, the speculation that he should retire after his Super Bowl 50 victory looms large. His mother Olivia recently told ESPN that she wants her son to retire a champion.

CJ Anderson agreed when he was recently on NFL Total Access. “Let him ride off into the sunset in the correct way. What else does he have to do? He’s got five MVPs, two Super Bowl rings, he’s first in every statistical category.”

When interviewed after his Super Bowl victory, Manning dodged the questions about his potential retirement, stating he needed to take some time to make the decision. In reality, Manning needs to decide by March 9 when his $19 million salary for the 2016-2017 season becomes fully guaranteed.

Given Manning’s level of play, it would be shocking if the Broncos agreed to pay this amount and are instead more likely to release him and move forward with Osweiler or sign a free agent quarterback. His father Archie recently told ESPN that if he does come back for another season, the quarterback knows the Broncos are not a viable option.

Would Manning really want to force the Broncos into cutting the all-time leader in passing yards and touchdowns? Back in 2012, Manning was released by the Colts following a series of neck surgeries. Changing teams the first time may not have severely hurt his legacy, but doing it again, especially when his skills have clearly diminished below his standards, will certainly yield the same result.

Manning is one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time and his recent second Super Bowl win only cemented this status. He has nothing left to prove and to play for another team at his current level would be foolish. Manning needs to make the right decision and retire.