It’s now known that Peyton Manning won’t be doing two things in 2016: Playing football or talking about it on TV. It’s unclear how close he came to the latter, but it’s now clear that the former was a more viable option than anyone realized.
Appearing on The Business of Sports with Andrew Brandt, agent Tom Condon said that: (1) Peyton Manning told Condon, “I really like to play”; and (2) teams were interested in having Manning play for them.
It’s unclear why a match wasn’t made between Manning and a new team. Condon, who made it clear that Denver wasn’t a consideration, mentioned the amount of love and respect Manning has for the game, and that Manning doesn’t view himself as a guy who would “hopscotch” from one team to another. Condon also pointed out the physical toll that playing 18 years of pro football has on the body, citing Peyton’s four neck surgeries and the experiences of Peyton’s father, Archie, during his NFL career.
It also could be that no one was willing to clearly commit to Peyton Manning being the unquestioned starter in 2016 and that, in turn, no one was willing to pay him the kind of significant money that reflects the level of respect with which Peyton Manning is accustomed.
Frankly, it sounds a little like the Sam Bradford situation. Bradford wants to play, but he also wants to be “the guy.” Just as no team apparently is willing to make Bradford “the guy” at this point in his career, no team apparently was willing to make that same commitment to Peyton Manning.
Here’s the point where the dog starts chasing its tail. No one was willing to make Peyton Manning “the guy” in 2016 because it was painfully clear in 2015 that he’s not capable of recovering from the week-to-week pounding that the body absorbs when playing against men you seemingly get a little bigger, faster, and stronger with each passing year. So the spirit was still willing, the flesh had become weak, and no NFL team was willing to provide the kind of offer that Peyton couldn’t have refused to play one more year.