There is no way.
Remember how good Peyton Manning was?
I'll remind you.
Manning was the fastest to reach 50,000 passing yards. He's been selected to 11 Pro Bowls, has won four MVP awards and six AFC Offensive Player of the Year awards.
He has a career QB rating of 94.9. He once threw 49 touchdown passes in a single season. He has a completion percentage of 64.9 percent.
He holds records in most seasons with 4,000 passing yards, most consecutive seasons with 25 touchdown passes and largest career touchdown to interception differential.
He won a Super Bowl.
The 6'5", 230-pound Louisianan could throw darts, lead a no-huddle offense and win games.
In his return from neck surgery, the 36-year-old to-be will just not be the same player.
I have no doubts that Manning can still lead a team to the playoffs. I have no doubts that he can put up 30-touchdown seasons and enhance his image for eventual Hall of Fame selection. I have no doubts he'll be fantastic in a few more commercials before his time is up.
But it is ridiculous to say that he will be the old Peyton Manning.
The reason Brett Favre could keep playing into old age was because he simply kept playing. With Manning taking a year off, getting back into the game might be very difficult.
This has the exact scent of the "Joe Montana of the Kansas City Chiefs" days. Montana missed nearly a full season, then came back to NFL only to really struggle.
Another thing about Manning is that he may not thrive on a team other than the Indianapolis Colts. His hurry-up offense was a great fit for that dome and that team. Taking that somewhere else may be very challenging, as it would take the willingness of an entire organization to adjust its mentality.
There may not be many teams thinking this way right now, but it may become more apparent a reason when a trade actually happens.
Finally, Manning had neck surgery. If I were a quarterback, I can't think of many more areas on my body that I would want to be sound. This concerns me a bit for how Manning may throw the ball and how long he'll want to stand in the pocket.
On top of that, Sports Illustrated's Don Banks just reported that he may need more surgery to get rid of some bone spurs in his neck—not a good situation for league's four-time MVP.
That said, Manning could come out and surprise. Maybe he will lead his new team to a Super Bowl and maybe he will earn another MVP award. Maybe he will beat the odds and gain more respect than even Montana.
I just don't see it happening.