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Ride the High Country

Peyton Manning to the Broncos.

9:35 AM, Mar 20, 2012 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
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Manning settled on Denver and many fans are wondering why. The team plays outdoors and being Denver, sometimes in very harsh weather. The Colts are a dome team so Manning is accustomed to playing in ideal, which is to say, no weather. Also, the Denver receivers are nothing special. Their running game is average. The Bronco’s record last year was 8-8. They went to the playoffs and lost in the divisional round. Their quarterback in that game was Tim Tebow.

And everyone knows that story. The good Christian kid who gives it all he has on every down but is, when it comes to playing the position of quarterback in the National Football League, still just a great college quarterback.

And Tebow’s boss, in the front office, is John Elway. One of the greatest NFL quarterbacks of all time. 

Elway won two Super Bowls at the end of his career. He has reason, then, to know that a great, but aging quarterback can still get it done. He doesn’t know that Tebow can and probably doubts, like many football men, that he ever will. The kid just isn’t a quarterback. But now, Manning …

So, two old veterans confident that guile can make up for a loss of skills are saddling up for one last ride. There is something kind of romantic and melancholy about it. If Denver does win a Super Bowl with Manning it will make a good buddy movie. 

Denver, then, probably is the right place for the tour to end. One just hopes that it doesn’t play out for Manning the way it did for that other great Colt quarterback (of Baltimore vintage). Johnny Unitas played his final, forgettable season with the San Diego Chargers and no fan of the game, or the man, remembers that well.

But for now, it is great expectations in Denver. Peyton has arrived.

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