After helping the Broncos to a 24-10 win in Super Bowl 50, Peyton Manning, who turns 40 in March, has a choice to make.
Only he doesn’t.
Manning, who threw for 141 yards and one interception against Carolina on Sunday, has to retire.
“Peyton Manning didn’t win this football game; Peyton Manning managed the football game,” former Super Bowl champion quarterback Joe Theismann said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “It was great to see him accomplish what he needed to go out as a champion. That was his last game, and by golly, it should be. . . . You listen to Peyton. They asked him about retirement. He could have easily just said, ‘Guys, look, what a great run it’s been. I can’t thank the fans of Denver, the fans of Indianapolis, (enough). It’s just been wonderful, but this was my last football game.’ He could have said that. But instead he said, ‘I’ve talked to Coach Dungy, I’ve talked to Coach Cowher, and they said something very smart: to take a little time to reflect on what you want to do.’ There’s no question he cannot throw the football. Father Time is the only thing that’s beating Peyton Manning. He managed the game very well, (but) Josh Norman had two (opportunities for) interceptions in that football game and he dropped them. The opportunities were there.”
Manning could return for another season in Denver. Or he could join a quarterback-desperate team for one more year.
Theismann wouldn’t understand either course of action.
“Why would you even think of it?” he said. “In what could be and should be your last football game, you ride off into the sunset like John Elway did as a world champion. Where do you go from there You’re not going (to the Cleveland Browns or Houston Texans). First of all, he revolutionized the game with his ability to manage it on the field. So he’s revolutionary in his play. Gone through so much injury and overcome it. Guys, he threw nine touchdown passes in an entire season (and) 17 interceptions. It’s funny. Peyton is going out the way he started.”
Manning threw 28 interceptions as a rookie in 1998.
“You talk about life running full cycle,” Theismann said. “He threw (28) interceptors in his rookie season. Now he goes out throwing almost twice as many interceptions as he did touchdown passes, but it doesn’t matter. He is a world champion. He’s part of a world championship football team.”
Even if Manning retires, the Broncos have a legitimate shot to repeat as Super Bowl champions next season.
“Their defense is so good, it’s a question of keeping everybody healthy,” Theismann said. “Brock (Osweiler) can challenge people down the field. It’s still a very stellar wide receiving core. They’ll be able to run the football. So yeah, to say that the Denver Broncos won’t be back would be foolish to think, as well as the New England Patriots. We very well could see just a replay of this particular playoff season once again next year.”