John Elway dangled a tasty carrot and the former Colt bit.
Peyton Manning, arguably the greatest free agent of all time, has chosen the Denver Broncos as team he will ride into the Hall of Fame. The Broncos will now be the hottest team in the league this offseason, and billions of eyeballs will be glued to Mile High Manning this autumn. Elway lured Manning by promising to build players around him, and by letting him run his own offense in Denver, which should easily make the Broncos the team to beat in the AFC West. And with a 5-year, $96 million dollar contract, it seems clear that the Broncos and their team of doctors believe Manning is healthy, ready to play, and capable of making a run at the Super Bowl for the next half-decade.
As a lifelong Broncos fan, I can’t help but be excited about adding an all-world player to the squad. Especially a cerebral quarterback like Manning who is one of smartest to ever play the position. But immediately after the shock of the ‘Manning to Denver’ news set in, many of us in Bronco Country asked the obvious question … what about Tim Tebow? What about last season? Timmy’s magical run, winning 7 of 8 games and leading the Broncos to a thrilling OT playoff win at home against the Steelers. Tebow’s 80 yard “Tebomb” to Demaryius Thomas was by far the most exciting play by any Bronco since Elway’s “helicopter” in Super Bowl XXXII. Every single Broncos fan enjoyed that season, whether they approved of Tebow or not, and Denver seemed to be headed towards next season with notable momentum. It was truly spectacular, and many fans thought we had something special.
But now – almost unthinkably after you grasp what he did last season – the Broncos will show Tebow the door and welcome 36-year-old Manning to the team. Some Broncos fans and all of Tebow’s faithful feel betrayed, but the fact of the matter is simple: John Elway was never sold on Tim Tebow. He didn’t draft him, didn’t want him as the future of the team, and frankly, he didn’t believe in him. The ironic part for Elway was that Tebow went out last season and made A LOT of other people a believer. Not just Broncos fans, but sports fans all over the planet (as we witnessed with Tebow-mania) were hailing Tebow as the savior of the franchise. But Elway still wouldn’t publically give him the loving security fans thought he had earned. Now it makes since why Elway never backed him, because deep down he knew that Tim wasn’t his guy. He didn’t want to commit. Yet Tebow’s surprising success meant Elway was stuck with him, at least for this upcoming season, if not more if Tim kept winning. There was nothing Elway could do but wait it out and see if Tebow succeeded or failed.
Lucky for Elway, the QB Gods work in strange ways, and they sent Manning into free agency this off season… and it didn’t take long for the Broncos VP to connect the dots. Manning is only QB on the market that Elway can immediately swap for Tebow without disgruntling the Denver fanbase. This is the only logical way Elway can divorce the Broncos from Tebow in a way that looks like he’s making the right move, the smart move. He is choosing proven over potential, and you can’t really argue with that. Tebow did wonderful things for the Broncos last year, but Elway saw a way to get rid of him without being the villain and jumped at the opportunity.