Hopes are riding a mile high in Denver, and as fans of the Broncos simultaneously thank quarterback Tim Tebow for last season's surprising playoff run and direct him to the exits, it is reportedly the dawn of the Peyton Manning era in Denver.
ESPN's Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen broke the news Monday, tweeting that the four-time NFL MVP's agent and the team were hammering out the details of a contract that would see Manning spurn the San Francisco 49ers and Tennessee Titans in favor of replacing Tebow Time with Peyton's Place for the Broncos.
Manning to Broncos...more coming on Espn— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) March 19, 2012
The expectations of many Broncos fans, the team and legendary quarterback/team executive John Elway are likely growing by the hour, as unless the two sides find some bizarre sticking point in contract talks, Manning will be hailed as the best arm under center since Elway hung up his spurs after Super Bowl XXXIII.
However, before Elway starts fitting himself for his first Super Bowl ring as an executive and the people of Denver begin planning a parade, there are a few nagging doubts that could see Manning Mania become a sea of frustration.
The first is the sheer size of the expectations themselves. Obviously, Elway and the team believe that Tim Tebow has taken the Broncos as far as he can, and that wasn't good enough.
Anything less than a victory in Super Bowl XLVII will be viewed as a failure by the Broncos and especially by both Manning and Elway. Fans who are deliriously happy right now could turn quickly if the Broncos come out of the gate slow, as Tebow-philes bemoan his ushering out the door.
Next, while the news about Peyton Manning's recovery have been mostly positive and the 35-year-old reportedly looked good in a workout for the Broncos last week, the fact remains that Manning is still well the wrong side of 30 and coming off four neck procedures and a lost 2011 season.
So, it may still be a while before we see which Peyton Manning the Broncos get.
Finally, even if Manning is able to return and play effectively, he won't be able to magically cure every problem on the Denver roster. Granted, the Broncos were a playoff team in 2011, but they were also an 8-8 playoff team that was throttled by the New England Patriots in the divisional round of the playoffs.
Yes, the Peyton Manning-led Broncos may well go better than .500, and his arrival probably helps the chances that the Broncos repeat as AFC West champions, but in a conference with the New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Baltimore Ravens, even with Manning, they aren't the favorites to win the AFC, much less take home the Lombardi trophy.
However, ESPN's Ashley Fox thinks that Elway has already taken these doubts into consideration, casting them aside easily in his quest to extricate himself from a quasi-quarterback controversy by adding Peyton Manning and installing the future Hall of Famer as the quarterback for the Broncos.
There is a chance it might not work. If it doesn't, even the great John Elway will be vilified. Elway didn't care. He wasn't scared. He can judge talent. He can spot apprehension, or a problem. If Manning wasn't right, Elway would have known. He was a championship quarterback once.
Now, there will be no quarterback controversy in Denver, not in 2012. The Broncos know who their starter will be and they have the utmost confidence in him. Manning got a playoff-caliber team with a stable offensive line, good young receivers, a mean defense and a veteran coach in Fox, who is not concerned about proving himself or keeping his job. He just wants to win.
For Elway's sake, Peyton Manning had better win, as one of the biggest potential signings in the history of free agency could be viewed as a miserable failure if Manning's success on the field doesn't match the hype surrounding his arrival in Denver off of it.
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