The annual Manning Passing Academy has generated plenty of sound bites and speculation regarding the status of retired quarterback Peyton Manning. It started with family patriarch Archie spilling the beans about text messages exchanged by Peyton and Dolphins coach Adam Gase last December, after Ryan Tannehill injured his knee. And it has continued with the perpetual question of what Peyton will do now that he’s done playing.
“It’s definitely important for me to stay close to the game and connected to it in different ways,” Peyton Manning said, via Jeff Duncan of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “If I took a job [in the NFL] I’m sure you’d probably hear about it. I doubt it would be kept quiet.”
But for his recent hiring as as strategic advisor to Riddell (which wasn’t kept quiet because the company issued a press release), quiet continues to be the key word with Peyton, as he spends time with family, pitches an occasional product, and otherwise enjoys life after having so much of his existence consumed by football. The fact that Peyton was fully and completely consumed by the game has caused some who know him to wonder whether he’ll ever return to the full-time grind, given his propensity to take over anything and everything about a football team — and the physical and mental burden that goes along with it.
Consider this observation from former Colts punter Pat McAfee during his visit last week to PFT Live: “[I]f [Peyton] wanted practice to restart, if he didn’t like something that was going [on], practice would restart. If he wanted a guy to make the team, that guy made the team. He kicked [receiver] Austin Collie off the field in the middle of a game before because Austin attempted to catch [the ball] with one hand. . . .
“Peyton ran the show in Indianapolis. Everything about it. He wanted a curfew at the Super Bowl, [G.M.] Bill Polian didn’t. There was a curfew. Peyton Manning just ran everything, that’s just how it went.”
And that’s likely how it would go if Peyton Manning became a G.M. or an executive with a team. It’s his nature, and it’s one of the reasons he’ll succeed at whatever he chooses to do.
The prevailing view is that he’ll wait for a chance to join an ownership group, likely as the Bon-Jovi-in-Buffalo-style front man and not as the person who owns a controlling interest in the team. That said, the money interests that put him that position need to know he’ll essentially be controlling the team.
Fear of failure could be a factor in his decision-making process, which could cause him to be even more careful about picking the right spot to return. Or maybe he’ll be happy remaining close enough to the game to have influence and generate real revenue without sticking his hand back into the flame.
Regardless, he’s earned the right to take his time and to pick his future role(s), whatever they may be. Whatever they end up being, the game will likely be better off for it.