Why on earth is Peyton Manning still playing football?
This is the headline that came out in the Washington Post on September 27. It goes on to describe the slow and painful process Manning goes through after every game: taking off his shoes with assistance, grimacing as his knee brace comes off, sliding his shoulder pads over his head to reveal old and new bruises. At the end of the article author Cindy Boren wonders why Manning continues to put himself through the pain.
I’ll tell you why.
Entering his 18th season in the NFL, Manning has only won one Super Bowl. Sure, he has thrown more touchdowns than any other quarterback in NFL history (535 to be exact). And yes, he will be headed to the Hall of Fame in Canton after he decides to walk away from the game. But until he owns more than one world championship ring, he can’t walk away feeling completely satisfied.
Of course, he has to be realistic. Tom Brady, Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana have the most Super Bowl rings among the quarterback club, with four each. Manning won’t get that many before his time in the game is up (and he knows that), but going out with a Super Bowl win will end his career on a high note.
At 39, Manning is running out of time. It’s now or never. Years of wear and tear have affected his game and forced him to make every throw count. Phrases like, “He’s too old.” “He’s too tired.” “He isn’t comfortable with his offense,” have been thrown around in every major newspaper since the start of the NFL season. Many are now questioning whether Manning has enough left in him to lead the Broncos to the Super Bowl.
I say he does. He is still here because he wants to win. And if he is anything like the Peyton Manning of the past, he’ll find a way to do it.