Elway to Manning: A Super Bowl pass?

The news Monday that former Indianapolis Colts star quarterback Peyton Manning will soon join the Denver Broncos was the equivalent of 10.5 magnitude earthquake striking the Colorado sports scene.

Imagine how it must have shaken the foundations of Tim Tebow’s world.

While it is a startling sports event — and Broncos fans seem close to evenly split on whether it was the right thing for the team to do — it is also major business news.

What is perhaps the most high-profile business in the state of Colorado just agreed to spend $95 million on what many see as extremely risky acquisition.

If it is successful, it could very well return the Broncos to the elite of NFL teams.

If it doesn’t work out — if Manning is injured early in his return to the playing field, for instance — the Broncos could be mired in mediocrity for years to come. Tim Tebow would be long gone, and the team would be without the financial resources to acquire a new quarterback around which to build the team’s future.

Manning’s decision does say something positive about the leadership of the Broncos, beginning with owner Pat Bowlen and operations executive John Elway.

Manning after all, was the most sought-after free agent in NFL history, and he is certainly among the top active players when it comes to knowledge of the game. Also, he visited at least five teams in the past couple weeks, and no doubt had inquiries from several more.

But Manning wants to win more Super Bowls and, even if he remains healthy, he knows he only has a few years left. Living close to his wife’s family or in a Pacific Coast city must have been secondary factors in that equation.

He must have seen much in the team Elway and Coach John Fox have put together, and their philosophy for the immediate future, that makes him believe a Superbowl is within reach for him in Denver.

How does an average fan assess those chances?

Well consider this: The Broncos lost eight games last year with both Tebow and Kyle Orton at quarterback. They lost to the Oakland Raiders, Tennessee Titans, Green Bay Packers, San Diego Chargers, Detroit Lions, New England Patriots, Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs.

Only two of those, the Packers and Patriots are elite teams. It’s not hard to conclude the Broncos could have won at least four more games with a healthy Manning running the offense and the same defense.

But there are no guarantees in the NFL, especially with aging, superstar quarterbacks. Ask the Kansas City Chiefs about Joe Montana’s time with them. The Minnesota Vikings had one great year with Brett Favre, then saw his skills deteriorate the following year.

Two years from now, Broncos fans may be cheering Elway, Fox and Manning. Or they could be clamoring for the return of Tebow.


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