Does Peyton Manning’s release from the Colts really surprise anybody? Sure, the eternal optimists in the back row wanted Peyton to retire a one-team man, but like any relationship, shit got real ugly when one of the people involved just started throwing everything that belonged to both them into the trash. And why is there another team’s number in here, HUH PEYTON?! Care to explain that? No, you know what? Don’t. Just don’t. I don’t even care. We are THROUGH!
To be fair to Colts owner Jim Irsay, Peyton did neglect to give him the full rundown on his ‘boo-boo.’ The lies led to poorly-timed surgeries, which eventually led to Peyton having to sit out, which led to Irsay realizing how much he really needed Peyton… but he still told him to go sit & twist anyway. Sure, the tears at the press conference were sincere, but both men know what they each said to the media. Put it on ice, and in time… things will be back to how they used to be.
And meanwhile, Ryan Leaf sits in a trailer park eating tuna out of a can, using the lid as a silverware. Oh destiny, you fickle whore!
The ties that bind can only be tied so tight over time. Peyton’s doomsday was predicated before the lockout even ended — we just didn’t know it yet. The Colts are an old horse, one that needs to breed new talent so Irsay can lead the Jeff Saturdays, the Dallas Clarks and the Dwight Freeneys out to pasture. However, try to take Adam Vinatieri out to pasture and he will end you (remember that Snickers commercial?!).
Blame it on Dan “The Unluckiest Man in the World” Orlovsky or even Curtis “Spicoli” Painter (the irony being his last name should have been his first clue), but the Colts’ trouble lied in the fact that Peyton was the reason that team was competitive.
Jim Caldwell was a lame duck coach and fell into that position through Tony Dungy & Peyton Manning (and his own blind loyalty), and Bill Polian was unjustly blamed — and once Peyton saw Irsay’s overreaction to something he had escaped for over a decade… it was the nail in the coffin. Someone just had to pull the fucking trigger.
Listen, Peyton knows what he’s doing. As long as he’s healthy, he’s hungry enough to win and he can make just about any team competitive. He just watched his little brother collect his second Lombardi trophy at his own house against his bitter rival, and all everyone can talk about his how old and noodle-armed he’ll be from now on. Wouldn’t you be ready to kick the shit out of everybody’s face in the NFL?
While our only real evidence of his throwing ability thus far is a 30-second clip of grainy Zapruder film, there are a ton of teams ready & waiting to see how healthy Peyton is and if he can raise himself from the dead like a Favre zombie. Right now, depending on how well he can throw and how long he can play is what will determine the future for nearly every NFL team out there. The Rams await to trade their #2 pick (to either Washington or Cleveland, so they can snag RG3 and be perpetually disappointed by his Michael Vick playing style), but with so many teams rumored to be interested in Peyton, I thought I’d run through them and give you my theories on who is in and who is out.
Washington Redskins: Peyton’s dealt with a nosy owner before, so Daniel Snyder may not be much of an improvement. In fact, he’s a goddamn cancer and every misfortune within the Redskins’ organization the last decade has been on account of his arrogance and deliberate overspending. Mike Shanahan has only one more season left to prove his worth, and after the Donovan McNabb fiasco, he may not want to sign another veteran QB with risks attached to him. Granted, McNabb and Manning are very, very different, but McNabb was 35 when he signed with Washington, only to be given a lucrative extention before he was released because he suuuuuuucked. Peyton also tends to run the offense, which Mike’s son, Kyle does. Will that go over well with either Shanahan? I say no. Micro-managing when your job is on the line could be too risky. Sure, Shanahan has experience with amazing QBs late in their career, but to be a Redskin is to surrender; it’s a team where talent goes to die. The ‘Skins are better off hedging their bets in the draft and trying to score RG3 from Baylor and make a worthy attempt at being creative… and just starting over.
Kansas City Chiefs: Chiefs owner Clark Hunt recently stated Matt Cassel is the Chiefs’ starter for opening day. That’s unfortunate, because he is awful. Head coach Romeo Crennel however, said he’d be crazy to not consider the idea of adding Peyton to the team. Kansas City has been a frustrating team to many, but to see them waste their time on Cassel is especially frustrating after it’s proven to be fruitless. Kansas City couldn’t even win a mostly-horrible AFC West in 2011, even with Tim Tebow, Carson Palmer and the always-a-bridesmaid Chargers barely making it to the finish line. This is a recurring pattern for the Chiefs, so the smart thing to do would be to invest in a proven quarterback. Thing is, GM Scott Pioli doesn’t believe in “breaking the bank” on one guy. That’s the only way to lure Peyton to Kansas City. They should have stuck it out with Kyle Orton… although there’s a good chance he’ll still be around come training camp.
New York Jets: First off, the media would reason numero uno for Peyton to stay away. Or maybe not. Maybe he wants the attention. Or maybe not. For our own sanity, I sure as hell hope the mythos behind Peyton’s “routine” is true and that he fucking hates the media hoopla. Forget the Favre hangover — the real problem would indeed be he flood of media, co-existing with Eli (even though they wouldn’t play one another until 2015) and playing in the same division as (eek!) Tom Brady. Mark Sanchez could use someone other than Mark Brunell as a mentor, and yeah, Rex Ryan would revel in the arrival of his own superstar that would finally get him to that land he promised to be in by now. But nope, uh-uh, not happening. Forget Rex’s personality or penchant for defense, or even Mark Sanchez playing like a backup for Temple’s practice squad — Peyton cannot play comfortably in a media spotlight around his brother and his rival. It’d be worse than Favre’s tenure there, and methinks Peyton already knows that.
Minnesota Vikings: Hey, it worked once before. Reel in an old, desheveled veteran star QB, he brings you close to prosperity… and we all know how that ended. So can Peyton be the savior that completes the circle of life that Favre couldn’t? The Vikes panicked last year when they drafted Christian Ponder. They didn’t expect Tennessee to get Jake Locker so early, so they did what they thought they had to. And maybe Ponder was a good pick — for later on. Peyton doesn’t seem to me like he’d look good in purple, but to bring the franchise their first post-merger Super Bowl championship? With a new stadium coming, it’d be sweeter than Ricky Rubio’s face (seriously, what a cutie pie — in a totally straight way, alright?). He would go down as a legend in two states and he could compete with three pretty good teams. The challenge of playing Matthew Stafford, Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler twice a year has to be appealling. Also, the challenge of, well, turning that team around would be nice, too. The Vikes actually competed last season, coming close to winning against good teams (unless they played in their division). Leslie Frazier, a good friend of Tony Dungy, would practically hand him the offense and tell him, “When in doubt, you have the best runner in the league behind you.” I’d say the Vikings have to look good, if they have the money to back it up.
Buffalo Bills: Listen, I know it’s practically a joke to include every goddamn team in the AFC North except the Patriots, but the Bills actually have a solid starter in Ryan Fitzpatrick. The team is young and still adapting to Chan Gailey’s coaching style. They’ll catch up eventually after tripping over their toes midway through 2011, but if Peyton could outdo any one ex-Bill, it’d be Jim Kelly. And all he’d have to do is win one game: the Super Bowl.
Seattle Seahawks: All the pieces are there offensively. Sidney Rice, Marshawn Lynch, Zack Miller — and the defense is plentyful (plus, they will contend hard for Mario Williams). The market is small and tucked away, the front office is vibrant and exciting, the owner has deep pockets and stays out of the way… oh yeah, and the team physician is the chair of the NFL’s Head, Neck and Spine committee. Some suggest Seattle keeps with GM John Schneider’s idea to build through the draft, but at this point, they’re really an elite QB away from giving San Francisco a run for its money. Brock Osweiler or Ryan Tannehill aren’t going to help right now, and Pete Carroll certainly can’t wait on his crush Matt Barkley (who is almost guaranteed to be 2013’s #1 pick). Carroll would be more than willing to give the reigns to Peyton, offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell worked with Brett Favre when he came into Minnesota (so there’s some correllation there) and while Tarvaris Jackson did a suitable job last season, he won’t get you where you need to go. I was going to make a tasteless driving stereotype joke here, but I’ve actually seen TJack drive, and he did pretty well. Let someone go ahead of him, used a turn signal and braked accordingly for a line of ducklings crossing the street. He even helped one drink from a puddle. Sure, he angered everyone in traffic, but he then found Gadhaffi and shanked him with a large machete. Or maybe this was a dream Sage Rosenfels told me about. But could Tarvaris Jackson find the Super Bowl? Probably not even with a map if it was 10 blocks away and located in a desert. The NFC West isn’t as challenging as most divisions, but as I said with the Vikings, he would be a legend in two states if he got Seattle their first Lombardi trophy. And that’s all that matters in the end.
Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins pulled themselves out of the Suck for Luck Sweepstakes around late October for some unknown reason, and have proven to be an effective team on both sides of the ball as of late. With a new coach in Joe Philbin, one would think, “Perfect time to make a ‘splash’ in the league.” (Cue obnoxious laughter) The Dolphins have the money, a system Philbin could ask Peyton to tweak and a valuable deep threat in Brandon Marshall. Plus, Reggie Bush had a 1,000-yard rushing season. Keep a Kardashian away from him and maybe he could keep it up. Now, owner Stephen Ross has a tendency of shitting the bed with lucrative deals, but after losing out on Jeff Fisher to the Rams, he desperately seeks to compete not only in his division, but with the Marlins & Heat. So, why not go after Matt Flynn? Less expensive, knows Philbin’s system… young. I know many fans out there are all aboard the Flynncycle (what are we gonna call him?), but the dude has only played two games. Granted, he performed at a high level, but it’s still two games. If he’s a system quarterback, he might be Miami’s best bet really. However, putting all your chips down on him to lead your team would be undervaluing your talent. He isn’t getting you anywhere for awhile, so if you’re okay with placing 3rd in your division and not making the playoffs until 2013 (maybe), go right ahead and sign him up. I understand the Dolphins’ eagerness to win and move past the 1972 team, Dan Marino and Ace Ventura: Pet Detective… but Flynn is stock for the future. So really, it just depends on Ross’ desire and Philbin’s thirst to step out of Aaron Rodgers’ shadow (same would go for Flynn). Also, as I brought up earlier, Peyton’s desire to compete twice a year in the same division as Brady can’t be that high on the list. Or can it? That’s a big question I have yet to hear any speculation on. The media would be heavier as well, and while sharing a city with Jose Reyes and LeBron James sounds cool… it really isn’t Peyton’s style, unless he wants to go the complete opposite of Indy and be a flashy Entourage-like cast member, which would lead to the inevitable Miami Vice poster or advertisement featuring Peyton and Brandon Marshall. Racists.
San Francisco 49ers: The fact is, Alex Smith is getting re-signed. Peyton shares an agent with Smith, so it doesn’t seem likely this could work. The Niners would win the NFC with Peyton as their QB. I firmly believe that… but I’m also an idiot. The challenge lies is moving out of the shadows of Montana and Young, something Peyton may be scared of doing. He also may have an ego that wouldn’t allow him to share that spotlight, even if Jerry Rice really wants him to wear red and gold next season. I’m not saying Peyton is an egotistical fuckface (okay, I am a little), but that’s only because the Colts made him that way. Johnny Unitas may have worn the uniform, but he was Baltimore’s prodigal son; Peyton was Indianapolis’ only son. To be able to reach heights like that in another city without a genuine hero would be miraculous. Jim Harbaugh hasn’t said this on the record, but I know he believes he’s changed Smith’s attitude & strategy. In order to build off of what happened last season, taking the future Super Bowl champs into overtime, Harbaugh probably doesn’t care to fix what ain’t broken. Smith earned a new contract, and really, as much as I’ve shit on the guy… he’s finally become the guy we always thought he could be.
Houston Texans: Imagine Peyton rolling out and sticking it to Jim Irsay by getting Houston to its second-straight AFC South championship. How sweet the victory would be, as it gracefully rolled down his pectoral muscles that glistened like dewey raindrops on the tip of a watermelon seed—-sorry. Was reading a romance novel as I was typing this. Went to buy chocolate milk and Nilla wafers, then I’m standing in line and I see this Princess Leia-type chick dry-humping the leg of some McCreamy-looking brodude. The title sounded intriguing (“A Shameless Seduction”), so I told the cashier it was for my wife, who does not exist. Man… why won’t anybody love me? Wait, where was I? Oh, yeah, shit, um… the Texans. Matt Schaub is too often injured (he hasn’t played a full season in like, four years), and a gunslinger like Peyton could thrive over there with Andre Johnson in his sights… but as much as the Texans value and respect Manning, they owe Schaub the chance to show us more of what he’s capable of. Unless that is Gary Kubiak is feeling the pressure to get back to the playoffs after getting there and winning with a third-stringer. Schaub has shown signs of greatness in 2009, 2010 and 2011 — ya know, before he got hurt over and over and over. Arian Foster and Johnson, not to mention a hell of a defense, could make Peyton drool… but it all depends on his eagerness to explore his championship options, which may be outside of his old division.
Arizona Cardinals: The Cardinals have one of the best receivers in the league, a modest run game, an improving defense and really, just need a stable QB. The weather is always nice in Phoenix, they have a great stadium… and they paid a shitton of money last year on a QB that sat out most of the year with concussions. The Cards’ owners aren’t really known for being lax with their dough, so Kevin Kolb may have been a lesson for them. John Skelton is a Tarvaris Jackson/Jason Campbell/Kyle Orton type of quarterback: sufficient, but not enough. Time is running out for Peyton, and like I said, to be able to give a city it’s virgin championship (or if they’re in a championship drought) would elevate Manning to an entirely different level. Arizona has to be willing to convince him their offense is more than just Larry Fitzgerald, however, and with Ken Wisenhunt’s job on the line? It could be a do or die offer. Playing the Niners twice a year may be something to consider as well, and really, are the Cardinals a team that’s one guy away from being in the Super Bowl? I say no. But then again, I hate them and never want them to succeed, so what do I know?
Best guess: Seattle, Houston or Minnesota as a wild card. Miami seems like everybody’s pick, but I like to go against the grain, so I say Peyton continues keeping it quiet and focusing on his studies like a nerdy virgin by heading to a less media-heavy environment with an inspiring coaching staff that isn’t too overbearing. Keep in mind that Peyton never had a solid offensive line in Indy, may not only love indoor stadiums and low-end media markets.
Bang biscuit. That’s a walk-off.
- The Angry Sportsfan