NFL Life After Peyton Manning: Is This the Beginning or the End?

Ryan CampbellContributor IIISeptember 17, 2011

How will the NFL manage if Peyton Manning's career is over?  Judging by week one, just fine.
How will the NFL manage if Peyton Manning's career is over? Judging by week one, just fine.Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Will this September be remembered as the end of Peyton Manning's brilliant career, or the redefinition of the quarterback position?

For the first time since 1997, the Indianapolis Colts began the regular season without No. 18 under center.  I'm not saying Manning's NFL lifespan is definitely over. However, I am acknowledging the fact that you won't find anything from Peyton saying he vows to be ready by Week 17, or even next year for that matter. For a man his age, and with his accolades (what more does he have to prove?), it's probably more realistic to expect him to retire than expect him to come back in 2012.

You halfway expect the NFL to refer to all games played from now on as something like "Week 2 P.P.M. (Post Peyton Manning)." He was the closest thing the NFL has needed to a savior.  A good, "aww shucks" type of guy. While Brett Favre was mixed up in text messaging scandals, and Tom Brady paraded around with celebrities; Peyton Manning has been the All-American elite quarterback the league (as well as Mastercard, Gatorade, Oreo, I could keep going but you get the point) has loved to endorse for a decade.

Will the NFL mourn Manning? It seems hard to go on without arguably the greatest quarterback of the past 20 years. Or does it.

Another significant event was taking place last Sunday. The 32 NFL teams threw 7,842 passing yards—that's the most in one week in NFL history. Surely by now you've all heard that Tom Brady and Chad Henne combined for 906 passing yards on Monday Night Football, breaking the single-game record for most passing yards. Did you also know that 12 other quarterbacks surpassed 300 yards throwing last weekend (I know, I know, if Henne can throw for 300 in a game why can't 13 other people but that's beside the point)?

NFL, and especially Colts fans, will miss Manning if his career is indeed over. Howbeit, if these passing numbers keep up around the league, the NFL will endure no Jordan-esque morning the way the NBA suffered after Jordan retired (the last time).

There's no reason to think the preposterous passing numbers won't continue. If a defensive player looks at a Quarterback the wrong way now, Roger Goodell might threaten to fine the entire defense. It's the closest the league has ever been to flag football. 

In 2011, the league has put an emphasis on the word wide. Cornerbacks can barely put their hands on wide receivers, more times than not leaving someone wide open.

Since his second season in the NFL, Peyton Manning has made defenses look vulnerable and exploited opposing secondaries the way few quarterbacks before him could ever dream of.  P.P.M. it appears dreamers in the likes of Matthew Stafford, Kevin Kolb, and Cam Newton might throw for more than 300 yards every week!

It's been said the best way to get over heartbreak caused by a former love is to go through as many flings as possible in a short span of time. Avid football followers that want another 4,000-yard signal caller to become infatuated with will seemingly have plenty of fish in their 2011 sea.  

If Manning never suits up again it will be an enormous shame. Brady and Henne threw for 906 total yards; can you imagine what kind of numbers a Manning vs. Brady duel would amass in this new "don't breathe on the quarterback" era?! To NFL and Indianapolis fans, there will never be another Peyton Manning.  However, P.P.M. there might just be a little Luck...of the Andrew variety.