Peyton Manning to Broncos Report: How His Decision Changes Landscape of the NFL

Dominic LombardiContributor IMarch 19, 2012

Peyton Manning to Broncos Report: How His Decision Changes Landscape of the NFL

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    The wait is over.

    Peyton Manning, four-time NFL MVP, will don No. 18 for the Denver Broncos next season. In the age of the "Twittersphere," the news came quickly and decisively via Chris Mortensen's Twitter account.

    It seemed like forever waiting for Manning to wade through suitors from Washington to Arizona, Miami to Tennessee, from San Francisco before finally landing in Denver due to the intense media buzz surrounding maybe the biggest free-agent signing in the history of sports.

    Parallels could be drawn between this indecisive-superstar-future-Hall-of-Fame-athlete-free agent and another whose decision left a permanent stigma around athletes and free agency and the new era of media via social networks. We're referring to LeBron James, of course, but obviously their respective free-agent merry-go-rounds were vastly different. 

    The main difference lies in the impact immediately following the two inking their contracts. "The Decision" turned a superstar basketball player into a villainous character and turned a nation against him, and turned an owner to a raving lunatic quick on the Twitter-trigger (I'm looking at you, Dan Gilbert).

    While Manning's choosing of Denver likely won't enrage any fanbases, it will instead alter the course of a number of franchises' and players' futures. 

    Manning's decision wasn't The Decision, but nevertheless might go down as a paramount moment in the careers of Tim Tebow, Alex Smith, Jim Harbaugh, owner John Elway and, of course, Peyton himself.

Tim Tebow Soon to Be Bound for Florida

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    The much-maligned, oft-miraculous and always polarizing figure that is Tim Tebow will play the role of understudy to no one at this point in his career.

    After a confounding 2011 season that climaxed with an improbable playoff victory, Tebow is entitled to feel that he deserves a starting job in the NFL. Even though everyone else thinks time behind Manning in Denver would do his game a world of good.

    But "Timsanity" or "Tebowmania" or any other conjunction Skip Bayless can think of cannot come screeching to a halt now, and the players, owners, media and especially the commissioner's office knows this.

    Tebow ending up with the Dolphins or Jaguars makes so much sense that no one should be surprised if and when it happens.

    The Dolphins lost out on Manning early on, then had a brief courtship with Matt Flynn before he signed with Seattle. They recently tried out Alex Smith, but according to the Miami Herald, Smith's stipulation was that he would only sign if Manning signed with San Francisco. No other attractive offers remain (another season of Matt Moore does not seem to attractive to Dolphins fans).

    And as far as Jacksonville is concerned, anything other than Blaine Gabbert would be an upgrade after his horrendous rookie campaign.

    Tebow returning to Florida (where Tebowmania began in at the University of Florida) would exponentially boost the brands of Tim Tebow and the Dolphins or the Jags.

The Uncomfortable Reunion of Alex Smith and Jim Harbaugh in San Francisco

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    Between a highly emotional embrace after the comeback win against New Orleans in the playoffs, to Smith caddying for Harbaugh at the AT&T Pro-Am, then to Smith taking a back seat to the 49ers' flirtation with Peyton Manning, then to Smith working out for the Miami Dolphins, it sure has been a hectic and likely emotional few months for the incumbent Niners QB.

    He will most likely return to the Bay Area for another run at a Super Bowl with Jim Harbaugh and Co.

    Smith went to great lengths to first gain the confidence of his team with his "Camp Alex" OTAs during the lockout, then bought into the ideology Harbaugh brought into the locker room and trusted his career to the rookie head coach by accepting a one-year deal.

    To feel as if the trust and respect was not mutual could very well fracture the fragile coach-quarterback dynamic that proved so crucial in the success of the 49ers in 2011.

    Nobody can blame the 49ers for pursuing what could be the greatest quarterback of this generation, but in Alex Smith's mind these past few weeks have felt like a microcosm of the tumultuous career he has had in San Francisco. It must be taxing emotionally as a professional athlete.

    In the coming weeks, we will watch the drama between Smith and the organization unfold, but the likely outcome is a sweetening of the pot by GM Trent Baalke in terms of their offer to mend the wounds of the Manning courtship in San Francisco.

The New Face of the Denver Broncos and the Expectations of Instant Success

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    It has been a long, windy road on the path to the Mile High City for Peyton Manning and those who have followed is every workout and have been glued to the Twitter accounts of Chris Mortensen, Adam Schefter and John Clayton.

    The sports world watched with bated breath as Manning made stop after stop visiting and working out for the half-dozen teams that had a realistic shot at Manning.

    In the end, Manning felt that Denver, with its on-the-rise defense and cupcake AFC West opponents, was the best situation for him to win his second Super Bowl.

    Although the waiting is over, that one question, that elephant in the room remains: how will a 35-year-old coming off four neck surgeries respond in the highly intense and extremely violent environment that is an NFL game?

    Plenty of doctors have taken to sports talk radio and ESPN to chime in with their two cents on Manning's health issues that have included a vast array of conflicting responses. What everyone must consider first and foremost is that the only one who truly knows how Peyton Manning feels physically is Peyton Manning himself. 

    From what I've seen throughout his career, Peyton is a pretty smart fella. I cannot imagine Peyton, with all his immense potential he has for a career outside of the game itself, would blatantly put his health and livelihood in danger just for the fleeting glory that goes along with a Lombardi Trophy.

    This football fan applauds Peyton for handling his exit from Indianapolis with class, for his discretion and diligence while finding his next football home and hopes he comes back as strong as possible when he takes the field for the Broncos for the first time.

    But remain cautiously optimistic everyone and have the expectations that you would for any aging athlete with a history of injuries, even if it is arguably one of the top three quarterbacks to ever play the game.

    Here's to protecting Manning's blind side.