As we prepare for Super Bowl 50, one of the top storylines is the potential for Peyton Manning to take the field for the last time.
When embracing Bill Belichick after Denver's 20-18 win over the Patriots in the AFC Championship on Jan. 24, the legendary quarterback/commercial spokesman remarked that it "might be [his] last rodeo." Surely a cryptic statement, but if there's anything NFL fans are used to, it's cryptic statements.
The rumors of Manning's retirement after the final game of the NFL season certainly hold more weight now, as it's been reported that he informed those close to him that he indeed will be hanging up the cleats after Sunday. With Media Day in full swing on Monday, those rumors only increased in intensity. As per NFL Media's Ian Rapoport (via Deadspin):
Manning has “told close friends that he expects this to be his last game.” We all expect it too, but this is the first indication that Manning may have already made up his mind—or is at least leaning strongly one way, barring a miracle rejuvenation. (“Maybe I hit the fountain of youth in the next month and I play another 10 years,” Manning joked yesterday.)
Manning faced plenty of questions about his future at last night’s media day, but he wouldn’t bite. When asked point blank if he would retire, he told Marshall Faulk, “I don’t know the answer to that.” Is it possible Manning doesn’t actually know for certain yet? Sure. He may fully intend to retire, but not want to commit just yet, believing there’s a chance he could change his mind based on the outcome of Sunday’s game and the opportunities that develop in the offseason. A championship would be a good note to go out on—I’m sure Manning has heard that from GM John Elway—but a loss could leave him craving one more shot.
It very well looks like it's the end of the line for Manning, especially with the capable Brock Osweiler waiting in the Broncos' wings. Of course, it's something that will be figured out soon enough.
"Brady's gonna play until he's 70"
Manning may not have much left in the tank after this season, but according to him, Tom Brady will keep going for much longer. In another Media Day quip, Manning expressed that Brady could keep going until he hits the big 7-0, while Belichick can go even longer.
By that logic, Brady can keep going for 32 more years, while Belichick can keep going for 27. Not exactly the worst problem to have -- I certainly wouldn't mind 27 more years of Belichick press conferences. The NFL's rules implemented over the past decade to prolong the career of the quarterback almost make it seem as though a quarterback can last that long.Peyton: "Brady's gonna play until he's 70, Belichick is gonna coach till he's 90. Maybe I hit the fountain of youth, play the next 10 years"— Conor Orr (@ConorOrr) February 2, 2016
When Tom Brady turns 70-years-old, it's a pretty reasonable expectation that he won't be playing football -- but don't tell Manning. Even so, he will still continue to be one of the most beloved Boston sports figures of all-time.
Follow Rob Riches on Twitter @Riches61