Column: Manning not defined by dud
The Super Bowl commercials were better than the game itself and that's not saying much. I won't go into details about the game because there was already way too much talk about why this game was so disappointing, but I will say one thing. I can't help but wonder if Eli Manning was playing in place of Peyton.
I mean seriously, after that first bad snap leading to a safety and two first half interceptions, it was bringing back terrible memories of Eli and the Giants this season. Even the close-ups on Peyton's face every time he messed up looked identical to the permanent confused and disappointed look Eli wore all season. As much as I love the Manning brothers, it was a hard game to watch. I felt bad for Peyton.
But now lets get to what I really want to talk about. How old is too old to still play in the NFL? Along with many other fans, I was convinced that if Manning won the Super Bowl this year he would retire. He would go out on top and end his career with the best season almost any quarterback has ever had. But since that went terribly wrong, now what?
Manning is 37 years old and has gone through several major neck surgeries, which could have prevented him from playing football ever again. He struggled with bad ankle sprains for several weeks this season as well. He has proven that he's never really down and out, but his body is going to take a lot more time to heal compared to his earlier years. Although Manning insisted he would be coming back if his neck checked out in March, it may be a struggle at times if he chooses to stay.
Despite his injuries and age, its safe to say Manning is playing the best football of his life. You can't deny that after coming back from a severe surgery no one expected him to break records and have the best season he's had in his career. The five-time MVP broke the single season record for touchdowns and yards thrown. He blew his competition out of the water. No other quarterback compared to Manning this season when it came to offense.
However, I give Manning three more years until I think it's time to retire. He doesn't want to pull a Brett Favre and stay for way too long in the league. Although Favre retired at 41, I think he was past his prime and tried to be greater than he could be at that age.
Plus, Manning is a solid 11 years younger than the oldest football quarterback, so he still has a way to go before he is officially way too old to play. George Blanda of the Oakland Raiders was 48 when he finally retired from the NFL. Blanda's age really isn't that old in real life, but for football I just can't see how someone that age could play competitive football for that long and stay healthy for the season. The cutoff for playing too long is around 40 years old. I think anything past 40 is excessive, so Manning has a few more years under his belt.
Regardless of whether Manning will retire or not it is safe to say he has made a legacy for himself. Even though he lost the Super Bowl he is still one of the best quarterbacks of all time. Bill Polian, Manning's old boss with the Indianapolis Colts said it perfectly in an interview before the Super Bowl, " [Manning] needs to win this game or what, his legacy is shot? Let me give you a reference from another sport. Did Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine need another World Series to validate their own greatness of their own legacies? Maddux won 355 games. Come on."
It doesn't matter that Manning lost the Super Bowl; one game doesn't justify a career. It also doesn't matter if and when he will retire. Manning is a legend whether he plays or not next season. As long as he doesn't pull a Favre and retire and then come out of retirement several times I will still look up to Manning as being one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. w
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