Peyton Manning recently broached the topic of retirement, and he did it in a way that suggests we will see plenty more of No. 18 over the course of the next couple of years, via Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com:
Brady said he was going to play until he ... sucked. That's a pretty good line. I'm kind of the same feel. I don't have a set number.
Some guys can hang on, can hang on and hang on and get another year vested, I guess, if that's the goal. If you can really produce and help a team, and you enjoy playing, I think that's up to the individual.
... Yeah, right until you suck -- I think that's a pretty good rule right there.
Tom Brady may have been the one to suggest that rather amusing time frame, but it is great news for Denver if Manning truly is going to play until he is no longer productive. After all, we are talking about an all-time great, as ESPN Stats & Info noted:
He’s not exactly falling off either as he enters his 17th season in the league.
His 2013 performance extended beyond the cliche description of video game-like because few Madden players can actually put up the type of numbers Manning did last year. He tallied an astounding 5,477 passing yards, threw for 55 touchdowns, finished with a 115.1 passer rating and had a 68.3 completion percentage. He tossed only 10 interceptions in 659 passing attempts as well.
Manning demonstrated a complete mastery of the Denver offense and made Julius Thomas and Demaryius Thomas look like absolute superstars and Wes Welker all the more dangerous in the slot. Manning even made Knowshon Moreno a top-notch running back because so much opposing defensive attention was paid to the Broncos' passing game.
Look for Montee Ball to fill that role in 2014.
There is some concern with Manning’s longevity, though, because he is 38 years old and has four neck surgeries under his belt.
Football is an overly physical game, and the trajectory of a career can change in a single play. But there are rules in place to protect passers from late hits and contact above the shoulders and below the knees. While they clearly don’t guarantee Manning’s safety, they at least improve his chances of staying healthy and on the field.
The Denver Broncos made it to the Super Bowl last year and were a blown coverage on a Joe Flacco miracle pass away from making the AFC title game the season before. Who’s to say what would have happened the rest of the playoffs had Denver’s defense come through for Manning at that moment.
The Broncos have been so close to the top of the mountain with Manning in place that a Lombardi Trophy almost seems inevitable. With the one-and-done nature of the NFL playoffs, all you can ask for is to be one of the last teams standing every season and, eventually, the breaks may fall your way.
If Manning is going to play until he is no longer productive, as his comments regarding retirement suggested, then the Broncos are going to be among one of those final teams every season.
That alone should have the Denver fanbase thinking Super Bowl each September.
Follow me on Twitter: