When Peyton Manning steps onto the podium Monday after a remarkable 18 year career in pro football, it will no doubt be an emotional moment for a man who has spent his entire adult life playing quarterback.
There will certainly be an abundance of tissues on hand at the Denver Broncos headquarters. There shouldn’t be.
Manning’s retirement is not an event to mourn; it’s an event to celebrate. One of the great athletes in the long history of professional sports is stepping away from the game after a second championship trophy. There’s nothing sad about this.
While Manning, who turns 40 in three weeks, may be ancient by football player standards, he is in fact still a very young man and he’s now entering a world where every single thing he could possibly want (outside of playing football) is going to be available to him.
No football player has ever had the intellectual gifts of Manning. While his first 40 years may have been dedicated to using those gifts to beat defenses on Sunday, there’s little doubt his next 40 years will be used for a far greater purpose. He will be able to do whatever he wants after football.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the top five things Peyton Manning is most likely to do once he walks away from the game Monday afternoon.
5) Open Up His Own Chain of Pizza Stores (5% chance of happening)
That’s right, Papa. Peyton’s going solo.
Peyton Manning has been the ultimate pitchman for his entire NFL career. He’s sold Gatorade sports drinks, MasterCard credit cards, Nationwide Insurance, Buick cars, and of course Papa John’s pizza.
He’s appeared in more than a dozen commercials for the pizza delivery giant since being drafted in 1998. In fact, he owns about 30 Papa John’s franchises in the Denver metropolitan area.
But, now that he’s got some time on his hands, why would Peyton want to sell some other guy’s pizza?
Imagine it: “Peyton’s Pizza.” He could have great specialty items like the “Omaha! Omaha,” a delicious 10 inch pie topped with savory Omaha steak.
Or, you call up his store and order some “Lil’ Elis,” crispy chicken bites that find new ways to underwhelm you each time you order them. Unless, of course, you’re in New England; they always seem to perform better in the fryer there.
This isn’t a likely scenario, but if he were to go this route, some new laws in Colorado may help get this business off the ground.
4) Run For Office (12% chance of happening)
Seriously, with the options we have on both sides of the aisle, who would vote against a President Peyton?
He hasn’t ever really spoken about it publicly, but Manning is a top donor to the Republican party and has been extremely active behind the scenes. So, while it wouldn’t be easy for him to give up football, he has all the skills and contacts he would need if he decided a career in public service was right for him.
His options would be wide open, politically. Manning could run for office in Louisiana, Tennessee, Indiana, or Colorado and have as good a shot as any established politician in those states.
Besides, we all know he looks great in a suit and tie.
3) Become a Front Office Executive with an NFL Team (20% chance of happening)
John Elway reshaped the Denver Broncos and brought Manning to the Mile High City. It’s incredibly plausible that Manning himself could want to follow in his soon to be former boss’ footsteps and jump into the front office with an NFL team.
However, Manning is famously known as a control freak. It’s tough to see him answering to a team owner or president. A situation where he’s able to have total control makes more sense.
2) Be on TV (29% chance of happening)
Peyton Manning oozes charisma. We’ve already discussed his prowess as a pitchman and because of it a career in broadcasting makes sense. Any of the major networks would be thrilled to sign him for essentially any role on the air.
Imagine Manning as the third voice in the booth with Mike Tirico and John Gruden on Monday Night Football, or analyzing games in the studio on the NFL Network.
Perhaps even better, imagine an hour-long show on ESPN with Manning, a green screen, and unlimited access to game film where he breaks down the biggest matchups in the coming week’s NFL action. The chance to see him watch film and get a peek inside his big, beautiful brain would be a thrill for long-time fans of the notoriously studious five time MVP.
1) Own an NFL Team (34% chance of happening)
While it’s true that Manning might not have the temperament to be an NFL general manager, he would be an outstanding NFL owner.
He has keen business sense and a passion for winning. Both are key traits good NFL owners possess.
There have rumors circulating for some time that the Manning family, including Peyton’s father Archie and brother Eli have interest in purchasing the New Orleans Saints at some point in the future.
That would be a perfect opportunity for football fans to continue their love affair with the future first ballot Hall of Famer.
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