All good things come to an end and it finally seems like Peyton Manning is on his way to the proverbial walk into the sunset. While there are several reasons that support this theory and speculation is rife about how the second championship Manning always dreamed of will always be a dream, true fans are praying hard that there’s at least another season left in the quarterback.
At 38 years, Manning isn’t exactly at the peak of his health and has been struggling with serious injuries for some time now. Reports have now emerged that he may have been playing for the last month with a strained right quadriceps muscle, adding to the worries that seem to be stacking up against him. “I had the one thigh injury,” Manning accepted. “It’s hung around, but I felt like I tried to manage it. I felt like I could manage it.”
On Sunday night, when the Broncos lost to the Colts with the scoreboard reading a disappointing 24-13, yet another playoff disappointment came Manning’s way. He just wasn’t in the same form that he was only a few months earlier and his age as well as his injury seemed to have finally caught up with him. Credit was, of course, due to the Colts who played against his weaknesses, forcing him into throws into the deep sidelines, something he just isn’t as good at as he was before. It was frustrating to watch him falter at plays he was once otherwise an ace at, and the crowds knew this was at least a game that was close to the final one, if not the final one.
The cold December month was a bad one for Manning and the new year didn’t seem to bring any relief either. The Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year in 2013 just didn’t seem to be making the same moves he had only a few months back. Those watching him could see the 17 NFL seasons finally taking their toll. At the end of the game, Manning had lost his career’s 13th playoff game, an NFL record he surely wouldn’t want against his name. “It’s just disappointing. Everyone would like to win their last game of the season,” said Manning. The star quarterback had indicated only in December that he does have another season left in him. Now, it doesn’t seem so certain anymore.
“The Sheriff” as he is known, at 6ft 5in is probably one of the most recognizable faces in the game, inspiring generations of youngsters to take up football as a career. He has also inspired so many teammates, and even rivals, to never give up no matter how uphill the battle may seem. Through serious injuries and career lows, Manning has been the perfect sportsman, dedicatedly working towards excellence, no matter how disheartening the odds may be. The quintessential hero who never says no, Manning has been a phenomenon in the NFL and for so many generations of fans and players, has remained a hero.
One thing is true. Without Peyton Manning in the ranks, neither the Denver Broncos nor the National Football League will remain the same. Fans, players, journalists, will miss him sorely as will just about everyone associated with football in America. It will truly be the end of an era.