Of all the choices Peyton Manning could have made about where to continue his career, Denver was by far the most controversial. Thank goodness Peyton doesn’t care about controversy.
After surprising reports yesterday, today Peyton made it official by inking a five-year, $96 million contract with the Denver Broncos. Despite the fact that most people thought the San Francisco 49ers presented a better option for Peyton to win immediately, the consensus is that in Denver he has good pieces around him, an above average defense, and an offensive coaching staff that will not be afraid to turn over the reigns to him (…cough cough…Jim Harbaugh…cough cough…).
So on paper the deal may not be perfect, but we have to agree that it makes sense for Manning. Whether it makes sense for the Broncos, however, is a topic that is and will continue to be hotly debated until Peyton leads the Broncos to the Super Bowl.
In case you don’t watch football or inhabit the planet Earth, the Broncos have this guy named Tim Tebow. We all know the
miracles science that Tebow enacted last season to lead his team to the playoffs and the divine intervention pure coincidence that allowed him to put up the best passing game of his career, including a game-winning 80-yarder in overtime, in an upset victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
It’s memories like this that made it hard to believe that the Broncos would be willing to bench the electric young quarterback to bring in the old fogey Peyton Manning. In an even bigger surprise, however, it was also reported that not only would the Broncos be bringing in Manning, they would also be trading Tebow.
Allow me to borrow a phrase from Moe Szyslak: Whaaaaaaaaaaaa?
I guess the thinking is that if you’re the Broncos you have to trade Tebow for three reasons:
- He’s proven that he’s a starting quarterback that can get wins, and no matter how strong a person is it’s hard to come back emotionally from that kind of demotion.
- If you keep Tebow on the team, if and when Peyton struggles you’re going to start to hear the “We want Tebow!” chants from the crowd. And we saw how well that worked out for Kyle Orton.
- If you genuinely don’t believe that Tebow can lead you to a Super Bowl (which it seems John Elway doesn’t), then this is the only chance to get rid of him with the fans being somewhat okay with it.
All those are solid reasons, but none of them are the answer.
I’m not the first one to suggest that the Broncos keep both Manning and Tebow. In fact, Terry Frei of the Denver Post expressed those exact sentiments in his blog post…almost a full week before Manning agreed to go to Denver.
However, I am the first one to suggest that the Broncos hang onto Tebow to use them in a unique way—as their closer. What’s that? You didn’t know a closer existed in football? Well it doesn’t…yet.
One of the “half-baked ideas” in Bill Simmons’ podcast a few months back was the concept of a “closerback.” It would be a quarterback that starts the game on the sidelines, and only comes in when the game is close in the fourth quarter to lead the team to victory.
Picture this scenario, if you will.
Tebow sits idly on the sidelines as the game starts while Peyton does the heavy lifting: reading the defense, playing the possession game, making short, accurate throws. Peyton’s not having his best game, but he’s keeping the team in the game by making smart, veteran plays. With five minutes to go in the fourth quarter, the Broncos gain possession of the ball with the game tied. That’s when it happens.
With Peyton in the huddle, John Fox calls timeout and starts heading towards the field. He gets about halfway to Peyton and the rest of the offense when he looks back to the sidelines and points to his left elbow. He wants Tebow.
Can’t you see it now? Tebow, who was in the clubhouse getting mentally prepared, comes running out of the tunnel with a full head of steam. The Jumbotron has “TEBOW TIME!” displayed in huge orange and blue letters as the crowd goes absolutely insane to the sounds of Tebow’s walk-out song, “Onward Christian Soldiers.”
Fox gives Peyton a quick pep talk, tells him how much he appreciates what he’s done, smacks him on the butt, and tells him to hit the showers. As Peyton heads to the sideline, Tebow arrives at the huddle, stops and looks at his teammates, and then drops to one knee as the crowd erupts in a feverish crescendo.
If that doesn’t give you goosebumps, check your pulse.
Tebow comes in and does what Tebow does, picking up win after win as the season goes along. Manning’s happy because it’s still “Peyton’s team” and they’re winning. Tebow’s happy because, well, because Tebow’s always happy. And most importantly the fans of Denver are happy because they get to have their cake and eat it too.
Now try to go the rest of the day without humming “Onward Christian Soldiers.” I dare you.