The sports world has turned Peyton Manning into Brett Favre: a quarterback who is trying to defeat the odds to make a comeback to the game he loves but is physically unable to play. The only difference was that Favre was fighting his age while Manning is struggling to overcome his fourth neck surgery since the end of the 2010 season.
This article will compare Favre's dramatic offseason odysseys with what Manning is currently going through to argue why Manning needs to do whatever necessary to remain in Indianapolis.
The Favre Drama: The Beginning
Let's blame the San Francisco 49ers for creating the Favre drama. They infamously chose Alex Smith over Aaron Rodgers with the first selection of the 2005 NFL Draft. Because of this, Rodgers fell all the way to the end of the first round when he was picked by the Green Bay Packers.
Rodgers was able to sit behind Favre for two seasons until the model for Wrangler Jeans decided to call it quits following the 2007 season. With Favre gone, Rodgers has established himself as one of the top quarterbacks in the league (earning himself a Super Bowl MVP in 2010-2011 and an NFL MVP in 2011-2012).
That being said, the argument could be made that Rodgers was able to excel because he got to learn from one of the best quarterbacks in the game before becoming the No. 1 quarterback on the depth chart.
The Manning Equivalent
After finishing the 2010-2011 season with a 10-6 record, Peyton Manning underwent offseason neck surgery. The injury was severe enough to sideline him for the entire 2011-2012 season. Without Manning, the Colts went 2-14 and earned themselves the first pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. What a difference a quarterback makes.
Colts owner Jim Irsay has basically guaranteed that they will select Andrew Luck with the first pick. This combined with Manning's uncertain future makes the Colts' all-time leading passer expendable.
For argument's sake, let's assume that the Colts are able to rework Manning's contract to keep him in Indianapolis. In this scenario the Colts have a win-win. Manning will once again take the reins of the offense that he created and Luck will be able to learn from Manning for at least one season.
Even if Manning is not healthy enough to start right away, he will act as a quarterback coach and help ease Luck's transition into the NFL. If Luck is supposed to be the best, why not have him learn from the best?
The Favre Drama: Homie Hopping
As soon as Favre retired following the 2007 season, he announced that he was coming back. At that point, his story was fascinating. How could he play for a team besides the Packers? How would he do playing in a new scheme?
After a decent 2008 season with the New York Jets, Favre ended up with his former NFC North rival, the Minnesota Vikings. That was the point when the excitement began to grow tiresome. He went on to play two seasons with the Vikings before officially calling it quits after the 2010 season (around the same time Manning had his first neck surgery).
Although Favre was able to reinforce his legacy by putting up inspiring numbers, including a career best six touchdown passes in one game during 2008, he ultimately dirtied his reputation by burning bridges everywhere he went.
The worst came in 2010 when Favre was accused of "sexting" a nude photo of himself to a woman who just so happened to not be his wife.
Fortunately for NFL fans everywhere, Favre has hardly been been heard from since.
The Manning Equivalent
I am not arguing that Manning will resort to taking nude pictures of himself if he does not re-sign with Indianapolis. Although, the argument I will make is something similar.
Once Favre decided to come out of retirement to play for the Jets, he became a one man headline. This proved to be costly not only to him, but to the Jets and later the Vikings. Everything he did, on or off the field, was closely scrutinized by the media.
Manning has already begun to rival Favre as the most overblown and recreated story in football. Judging by the amount of press Manning is getting, Americans seems more interested in his future than the future of their country.
Manning will not be able to avoid front page headlines regardless of if he stays in Indianapolis or not. However, he will be getting a lot more coverage for a longer amount of time if he does wind up someplace else. Whereas if he stays in Indianapolis, his story will grow old following the conclusion of the 2012 season.
It is not only smart for the Colts to keep Manning as a tutor, but because he is the face of the franchise as Favre was with Green Bay. Regardless of where Manning goes, the Indianapolis Colts will follow him.
Assuming that Manning is able to return to the field in the next few seasons and be a productive starter remains to be seen. However, his legacy will be greater if he is able to finish his career with the Colts.