Christmas came early in Denver. Condolences to Tennessee, San Francisco, Miami and Arizona. Oakland, Kansas City and San Diego can just stick it. Peyton Manning is our new quarterback, and Broncos fans are going nuts. Productivity plummeted today in the Mile High City, and we have John Elway and team to thank for it.
Not a single game was played, yet March 19, 2012 will go down as one of the greatest days in the history of Colorado sports. Sure Denver got Peyton Manning, who if healthy stands a chance at eclipsing John Elway as the team’s greatest quarterback. Sure, the team is suddenly among the favorites to win the AFC. Sure, the team has a hook with which to lure other high profile free agents. But none of that is what has people so ecstatic. In the blink of an eye, in the fraction of a second it took to digest a single tweet from Chris Mortensen, Tebowmania in Denver came to an end.
It’s one thing to get a great quarterback. It’s another thing entirely to land one when a day earlier you were looking at a starter with an abysmal 47% completion rate. San Francisco, had a chance to trade in Alex Smith for Manning. Big deal. For us, instead of taking the two hour drive from Denver to Vail, this is like flying from the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean to the top of Mt. Everest in a heartbeat. We’re going to get a colossal case of the bends and could not be happier.
Tebow had the franchise handcuffed. As a quarterback, he was challenged, to put it mildly. Mark Schlereth, former Broncos player and current ESPN analyst, recounted how when watching Tebow play at training camp he actually wondered if Tebow may not in fact be left handed. Tebow’s passes were that inaccurate. If his name wasn’t Tebow, Schlereth speculated, he was watching a player who should have been cut.
Yet in a flash, with the simple writing of a massive check, Denver gets out of the death grip of Tebowmania. While Tebow was here, the chances of a title were slim and the possibility of recruiting offensive free agents was non-existent. The passion of his loyal fans made his replacement a challenge unless it was by someone truly great. Manning fits that description, and Denver can turn the Tebow page. As another ESPN analyst Merril Hoge commented, “the team should have paid [Manning] an extra $20 million just for that.”
Farewell Tebowmania, we knew thee way too well. Later this week, we’ll get introduced to the new our new starting quarterback. But Peyton Manning is just the cherry on top. The real payoff was our escape from the prison of football lunacy. Even if Manning does not bring another title with him to Denver, it won’t matter. We’ve already won.