None of the many Broncos players who have spoken (and plenty have) since Super Bowl 50 have had any inside information regarding whether quarterback Peyton Manning will return in 2016. Which means either that they know and they’re all doing a great job of saying nothing, or they just don’t know.
On Thursday’s PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio, running back C.J. Anderson joined the list of Broncos players saying they simply don’t know whether Peyton will play.
“I have no idea,” Anderson said when asked who will be handing him the football next year. “If it’s Peyton, you know, I’ll still be happy. If it’s Brock [Osweiler], I’ll still be happy. We’re gonna do whatever Peyton wants to do and we’re gonna have his back. That’s one thing, believe me, if he decides to give it up and ride off in the sunset the correct way, we’re just so happy that we’re doing it for him the right way.”
The use of terms like “correct way” and “right way” could be interpreted as Anderson hoping that Peyton doesn’t come back since that would be the fitting end to his football story.
“I mean what else does he have to accomplish with five MVPs and first in every statistical category that you can think of with Peyton?” Anderson said. “True pro on and off the field with two Super Bowl rings. I mean he’s a slam dunk Hall of Famer. When it comes five years from now, he shouldn’t even have to go through the elimination process. They should just already have him in Canton. Then with Brock, if we can bring Brock back, he’s a free agent, but Brock plays a huge part of how we got to the No. 1 seed [in the AFC] and how we got to the playoffs. I mean, Brock showed that he can play in this system.”
Since portions of Anderson’s comments created the impression that he thinks Manning will retire, Anderson was asked whether he has any inclination as to what Peyton will do.
“Nah we don’t that’s just, that’s Peyton too, you know. . . . Peyton’s just — he’s a jokester and he’s gonna keep secretive,” Anderson said. “I mean, there’s times where you listen to him talk and it feels like it’s gonna be his last ride but, you know I think Mr. Elway said it the best, if I were at 99, that 99 percent and that one [percent]. You know you can be all in 99 percent of retiring but you’ve got to remember that one percent that made you wanna do this and love the game so much. You really don’t wanna give the game up because after you give it up, there’s no coming back and you know everything is gone.”
Brett Favre would disagree with that last sentence, but Anderson’s broader point is valid. Once it’s over, it’s typically over. Which surely has caused many guys to seek to milk one more year out of a career.
There’s another factor that could influence Manning to return. With so many options for his post-playing life and necessarily an obligation to pick something at the exclusion of the rest, playing one more year delays that decision. So instead of choosing to be a game analyst or a studio analyst or a coach or a G.M. or a president or a full-time Papa John’s franchisee or whatever else he’d want to do (and surely be wildly successful at anything he selects), Peyton can keep doing what he’s been doing, for one more season.
If he decides to do that, the next question becomes whether the Broncos will offer him enough money on a reduced contract to convince him to keep doing it in Denver. If not, then the question becomes whether he’ll take some of Magic Johnson’s money.