Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Broncos Divorce Tebow After Manning Arrives

Suddenly, Tebowmania vanished into darkness, much insanity that swept the nation as Denver fans were awed by Tim Tebow’s miracles to lead the Broncos each week to spine-tingling, heart-stopping, magical finishes that ended happily with victory after victory.

If there were ever an opportunity for John Elway to negotiate and satisfy a football savant, once an iconic figure for the Denver Broncos succeeding with the most clutch performances in sports and NFL history -- now the team's vice president -- it was a perfect time to give Peyton Manning a contract. The proud fans of the Denver Broncos welcome in a 4-time MVP with enough left to possibly direct the unit to a championship, which means he might be the right choice for a team that's maybe a quarterback away from reaching an incredible exploit.

So with that in mind, it’s time we say goodbye Tebowmania. And hello Manning-palooza.

As Elway reminded us Tuesday, like the rest of untrustworthy team executives, the NFL is a cruel business. It’s as if he alienated promise to Tebow Tremendous, when in all, he’s looking at it from a professional aspect. And so it ends, sadly and unbelievably, without even giving Tebow a chance to prove he’s worthy of the hardest assignment in football. After a full season, the most endearing and powerful man in Denver divorced him. It’s quite certain Elway has produced Denver’s biggest victory since he led the Broncos to the Super Bowl two decades ago. In all, it’s a relationship of alliance as Denver, among two other cities that Manning had limited himself to specifically, is where he truly had interest in extending his outstanding career at quarterback.

But of all cities, he chose to play in a frigid and unfamiliar environment, not used to delivering passes in bone-chilling temperatures or high altitude. In change of scenery, he is compelled to adjust to the low humidity and thin air for which the breathing and heart rate increase and levels of glucose reduce the energy as the body slowly enervates. And with Manning’s health issues, the signing is considered a high-risk reward for a man who had four procedures to surgically repair damage to his neck.

The best-case scenario is that Manning comes in and lead the Broncos to championship victories during his term in Denver — or worse — he can sustain a career or life-threatening injury the next time he takes a brutal hit. I’m not a doctor or someone who study the concepts of medical, but I do know he’s putting himself at risk. It was apparent — and occasionally understandable — Denver was a suitable home, more less a comfort zone for Manning, judging from the way he already developed a bond with owner Pat Bowlen and coach John Fox.

The flirtation for a few days with Manning paid off and Elway, as a nimble manipulator and negotiator, persuaded the franchise quarterback to relocate to his new address in Denver, where Manning likes the people and the environment. It’s going to be strange, seeing Manning in orange after spending quality years in blue with the jersey No. 18, and he’s set to embark on a new adventure with an entirely new organization that believes in him. He couldn’t pass on an offer to join a franchise that has a tradition of breeding first-rate quarterbacks, couldn’t pass on a franchise’s mystique, couldn’t pass on a stadium where he hasn’t lost in three appearances and couldn’t turn down Elway.

It turns out the Broncos are desperate, so headstrong to take a gigantic risk, knowing Manning’s health status remains in much uncertainty. The decision, from a grand scheme of things, wasn’t so hard and Elway never had to deliberate on whether Manning was worth the gamble. By getting Manning, he is striving to build an unbeatable team around him to compete and finally dominate the AFC West. And so, Elway’s presence certainly had odds on Manning choosing to play in Denver, daringly making the veteran quarterback richer by signing him to five-year, $96 million deal and dumping Tebow like a disloyal boyfriend would after dating a chick.

Now we all know Tebow wasn’t Elway’s guy, separated from a rocky marriage with the club president having the last word that led to an unsettled divorce. It’s all because the Broncos have made the transition from the running game to the old-school passing style, with the services of Manning, a shotgun quarterback who could actually pass the ball perfectly. It was almost as if the Broncos had just won the Super Bowl — it really was — when Manning arrived and Tebow had been asked to leave, not even welcomed as a second-string to be mentored by a veteran with the proper intangibles. The nature of the passing game under Manning certainly makes the Broncos offense that much effective, and they could become one of the most dangerous units in the league.

The state of his health is what remains unknown, but realizing that he brings much aspiration and excitement to Denver with an amalgam of accuracy and arm strength, operating mostly out of the shotgun and mastering the art of accurately throwing the ball downfield, he’s a perfect fit. Again, Tebow, for all his flaws and inconsistencies, wasn’t Elway’s quarterback in the future. As good as he was last season, creating a miracle run for the Broncos, he never really was sold on Tebow – seeing what he had in the miracle-worker.

In the new regime of the experimenting age, the Hall of Fame quarterback, Elway, coaxed someone who desperately and badly wanted to play and continue his career. He never once pondered retirement, and so just like that, Manning will try to implement the same style in Denver with one objective: Win, baby!

What does all this mean for Elway? In truth, rebuilding around a talented unit with a sturdy receiving core and monstrous defensive stars, he is pushing to hold up the Vince Lombardi Trophy. An avid quarterback in his day and age, Elway has been down the same path late in his career years ago. He, on the other hand, had a less serious injury. It was a shoulder injury from tearing his biceps tendon and Elway thought he’d call it a career, but he recovered after rehabbing to regain good health. The thinking of it all is that Manning is walking in Elway’s shoes, willing to exit on his own terms as a winner. He wants to achieve, go out with a bang by raising another trophy.

And it is certainly possible. Also, Manning decided to visit Denver, having good vibes after working out with the team. While Elway told Manning he was deeply interested in his services — Manning never was pressured to make a decision or given an ultimatum; Elway is the savior as an executive, just as he had been as a player. At the beginning of Manning Watch, the Broncos weren’t projected or even in the mix for Peyton — cities such as Miami, Arizona, Washington, Seattle, New York and San Francisco were in the bidding war.

Weeks later, a number of teams pulled out and the Broncos were one of the three teams involved — 49ers and Titans — to obtain Manning. The entire week, Elway stayed mum and downplayed any gossip and had hoped for the very best, and indeed, Manning authorized his agent to open negotiations to join the Broncos. Few thought he’d end up in San Francisco with coach Jim Harbaugh, but he was reluctant to play on the West Coast, though he could have began with a new team in warm climate. It wouldn’t have been such a bad environment, but even more so than the weather, he wanted control of the offense like when he had all the power in Indianapolis.

There is a possibility he succeeds in the crafty offense with offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, who might even be more creative now that Manning is taking the snaps. Remember, too, doctors have cleared Manning to play again, and as a result, he is throwing the ball rather remarkably and effectively. But Elway may want to keep Tebow as a backup and not foolishly trade the most polarizing athlete in football. Since those ties are broken in Denver, and while he’s still a popular athlete to many, the Dolphins or Jaguars — two teams in his home state, Florida — could be his next destination.

Denver’s house is cleaned out.

It’s Manning’s Place now. It’s Elway’s call.