Peyton Manning is officially retired. The Broncos announced this morning that Manning has informed the team he’s calling it a career. A ceremony in Denver is scheduled for Monday.
He’s making the right call by going out on top. I can’t say I was a fan; I never liked him even a little bit. But you had to respect him. He was, without question, an excellent quarterback and one who will not be quickly forgotten. Was he the best quarterback of all time? No, I don’t think so. But he was, almost certainly, the best-prepared quarterback of all time and one of the top ten to play the game.
I think he was, not-so-secretly, somewhat of a choker because he put so much pressure on himself and on his teammates. He was almost the exact opposite of Joe Montana; he never seemed to understand that in the moments of highest pressure, you need to let the game and the moment come to you, you cannot force them. Peyton Manning did not feel the force, he relied upon his talent and his extensive preparation instead.
But in some ways, that actually makes me respect him more, because unlike so many other talented chokers, he managed to surmount that weakness through persistence and the sheer force of will. And it did not escape my attention that after an entire career of being a prima donna with the weight of the team on his shoulders, he managed to step back, be a role player, and allow the team to carry him.
For me, the signature Peyton Manning moment will always be when he chewed
out his running back, Donald Brown, for making a mistake while the play was still in
progress. “Godammit, Donald!” That, for me, summed up both his strengths and his weaknesses in a nutshell. Then again, you have to appreciate a man who can laugh at himself.