Just when the San Diego Chargers thought they had their hands full with Tebow Time, a new and significantly bigger threat has just emerged in the AFC West. Peyton Manning has made his decision: he will become a Denver Bronco.
After sitting out the entire 2011 season due to a neck injury, his future as the franchise quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts grew more and more questionable. When the Colts released Manning in March 6, ending a relationship that lasted 14 years, his departure from Indiana became a certainty. Immediately, teams throughout the league started chomping at the bit for a shot at landing a deal with the Super Bowl MVP, including the Tennessee Titans, the San Francisco 49ers, and the Miami Dolphins.
On Monday, ESPN reports that Peyton Manning has pushed his agent Tom Condon to finalize his negotiations with Denver, an agreement to a five-year contract that initiated when Manning met with the Broncos Vice President of Operations, John Elway, on March 9, a deal worth $95 million.
Whether it’s the charm seen in his popular television ads, or the simple fact that he’s proved to be one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history, Peyton Manning is arguably the most beloved and revered player in the sport today. His legendary career has accumulated over 54,000 passing yards, eleven seasons exceeding 4,000 yards, eleven nominations to the Pro-Bowl, 399 touchdowns, a record 4 league MVP titles, two AFC Championship titles, one Super Bowl ring, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree.
Here’s an example of why it’s so darned hard to hate the man who may potentially be San Diego’s greatest enemy:
During the 2011 season, the Denver Broncos already made international headlines when Tim Tebow took the helm as starting QB, an era that will forever be remembered as “Tebowmania.” The nail biting come-from-behind victories that took place within the dwindling minutes of fourth quarter and overtime, coined the phrase “Tebow Time.” Of course, we all can’t forget the “Tebowing” phenomenon, bending down on one knee and lowering the head in prayer, made popular by Tebow’s fervent display of his Christian faith.
Tebow led Denver to a playoff victory against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the dramatic fashion that has become his trademark, but Tom Brady shattered the Tebow Time clock to bits and pieces in a Divisional Round win that ended with a New England victory and a humiliating score of 45-10.
The San Diego Chargers and the rest of the AFC West have a more formidable foe to look forward to if Manning’s deal with Elway comes to fruition. This won’t be unfamiliar territory for the Bolts, however, as Manning’s all-time record against San Diego over the last decade has been 1-5 in favor of the Chargers.
Redemption will be the underlying theme this 2012 NFL season. Peyton Manning must prove to the Colts that cutting him loose was the wrong decision. The Bolts must prove that they do indeed have Peyton’s number, and will charge ahead once again as one of the most feared teams in the league. Peyton Manning’s younger brother Eli left a bad taste in the mouths of Charger fans across the board with his refusal to join San Diego during the 2004 NFL Draft, so Philip Rivers must prove why San Diego never needed a Manning in the first place.
This 2012 NFL season, it’s going to be a shoot-out in the wild, wild, AFC West.
Photo by kyleburning on flickr.com