In many ways, the Peyton Manning press conference was little more than just your typical presser that seems important for five minutes, then we all remember that we’re watching a cliché factory. There was clapping, awkward laughs at bad jokes, and reporters asking loaded questions in search of a pre-conceived narrative.
There were statements of grandeur, and hopeful promises for glory. And Manning saying that if there was a game this week, he’d be ready to play.
Oh he said it, but those words were said cautiously, with Manning adding that he’s still not quite where he wants to be in terms of his recovery. He was encouraged by the fact that throughout his free agency tour all the teams saw him work out, and still wanted to go forward.
“But it’s March, and I have to remind myself of that,” he said.
Like the rest of us, Manning is aware of the calender. The difference is that there’s a varying and often split opinion on his ability to actually play like Peyton Manning next September. But he isn’t worried about the 2012 season, saying that he plans on playing “a long time.”
We can assume then that right now, in his mind and body Manning believes he can play throughout the entire life of his five-year contract. He’s one of the few believers in that optimistic outcome, and he’s still aware that his time in Denver isn’t about the future.
“This isn’t about building a foundation for the future to try to do something in two or three years,” he said. “This is about now.”
The most hopeful statement came from Elway, who said that he wants to “make Peyton Manning the best quarterback ever to play the game,” implying that Denver is the place where Manning will firmly nail his place in league history.
There was also the eulogy of Tim Tebow’s career as a Bronco.
In truth, that came Monday morning when Manning picked up a phone and informed John Elway of his decision. But for the Tebowmanics the final blow today was likely still painful. In Denver, Tebow was more than mere man. He was a cult leader.
Elway’s strike came soft at first when he said that trading Tebow is a “possibility”, noting that the Broncos’ management is going through an evaluation process. Then the indirect acknowledgment of the inevitable came when Elway was asked if his aim was to move Tebow to a team where he has a chance to start over, or just simply start.
“I would love to be able to do that,” he said.
“It would be our goal to put him in the best situation to have the most success.”
His words were carefully planned, far too kind, and they reflected the deep thoughts of a man who’s in an awkward position. Elway was asked to speak directly to Tebow’s fans, and he immediately cited a simple fact: Tebow fans are also Broncos fans, and they’ll quickly become Manning fans when the wins begin to pile up.
“I want them to understand that I was hired to do a job, and my job is to put the broncos in the best position to win a championship,” he said.
“I have to make the best decision for the Denver Broncos, and this is without a doubt the best decision.”
Elway also said that if he could choose a man for his daughter to marry, it would certainly be Tebow, which is easily the most awkward remark from a boss about a soon-to-be former employee.
Hey, at least Tebow has options out there somewhere.