For those of you worried that Peyton Manning planned on hanging up his cleats at the end of this season, you can take a big sigh of relief. He's coming back for 2015, provide the Denver Broncos will have him. (Wink wink, nod nod)
“I certainly plan on being back if the Broncos will have me,” Manning said via the Denver Post. “At this point I’m thinking about Oakland. I know this is the time when there are conversations about what coaches are going to return. For some reason I guess I get to fall into that category because maybe I’m closer to the same age as some of the coaches. But I have no plans along those lines. I’m enjoying playing and looking forward to Sunday’s game and the game to follow that.”
Earlier this season, the 38-year old Manning made it clear that he plans on playing out this contract with the Broncos, which will take him through the 2016 season. Despite this declaration, rumors and intrigue swirled around the team down the stretch.
Manning's performance on the field is still at the top of his peers. He earned his 14th Pro Bowl selection this year. He leads the NFL in touchdown passes with 39. He's eclipsed the 4,000-yard passing mark, yet again.
Get used to seeing Manning in orange and blue. He signed a 5-year contract, back in 2012. Does Manning strike you as the type of guy to back out on such a covenant?
For now, like he said, he's focused on the Oakland Raiders and wrapping up the AFC's No. 2 seed. He still loves football, and not just the games. He delights in the preparation, the practice and the camaraderie of his teammates. More than anything, though, Manning wants another Lombardi Trophy.
He came close to securing his second Super Bowl victory in 2013, but ultimately fell short. The 2014 Broncos have a roster as loaded as it's ever been in the history of the team. They have a chance to do some damage in the post-season.
But Manning's old adversary, Bill Belichick, and his New England Patriots, will likely stand in the way. Last year, Manning and the Broncos found a way to vanquish them in the AFC Championship game in Denver. If the Broncos make it that far this year, it will be in Foxboro, unless some other team upsets the Patriots at home. It will require a truly special performance by the Sheriff, to emerge victorious in that hostile environment. Even more than that, it will require a full team effort.
John Elway knows this. That's why he assembled his roster the way he has. The AFCCG is long way off. First thing's first. The Broncos must secure the No. 2 seed and a much-needed first-round bye. From there, anything is possible with the Sheriff at the helm.