A marriage vow is a contract of sorts, but a contract is no marriage. For team owners it’s a good thing NFL deals don’t come with a prenuptial rider.
It would seem that Peyton Manning only has two suitors he’s willing to consider offering a rose to: the Arizona Cardinals and the Denver Broncos. The uncomfortable part is that both teams already have starting quarterbacks. Kevin Kolb signed a five-year, $63.5 million extension with the Cardinals last year, while the Broncos named Tim Tebow the starter in a post-season press conference. This is where the NFL parts from the ridiculous marriage idiom, “you can look at the menu, you just can’t order.”
There is no doubt that the goal of every person on the Denver Broncos’ payroll from public relations, to members of the practice squad, to Pat Bowlen is to win championships. Sometimes that end is going to result in difficult, even unpopular means.
Suffice it to say, this is what is transpiring at Dove Valley at this moment. Based on the spirited discussions going on at the office water cooler, talk radio, and the comments of our readers, not everyone is convinced that this is the right call. Perhaps you’re not convinced it’s the wrong call either; preferring to let the process play out before casting a concrete opinion. Albeit very different, both Tebow and Manning have sensational upside and significant concerns moving forward. A quick positive spin: there are fans clamouring to have Denver Broncos “problems” right now.
One thing that is concrete is that is NFL is more than just a business. Just a business doesn’t draw 75,000 fans to a stadium on Sunday afternoons. Just a business doesn’t attract 110 million Americans to its championship game. Just a business doesn’t bring two grown men in Jim Irsay and Peyton Manning to the verge of tears at a press conference. There is a passion, an energy, and an inexplicable force behind the game.
Three years ago the Broncos flirted with Matt Cassel. The result of that pursuit was misinformation, assumptions, and ultimately bad blood that led to Jay Cutler being traded to the Chicago Bears. While Cutler doesn’t really present himself as an expert on work-place relationships, he felt that the whole conflict could have been neutralized had the decision makers reached out to him.
I went in there with every intention of solving the issue, being a Bronco, moving forward as a Bronco. We weren’t in there but about 20 minutes, (Josh McDaniels) did most of the talking and as far as I’m concerned, he made it clear he wants his own guy. He admitted he wanted Matt Cassel because he said he has raised him up from the ground as a quarterback. He said he wasn’t sorry about it. He made it clear that he could still entertain trading me because, as he put it, he’ll do whatever he feels is in the best interest of the organization.
At the end of the meeting, he wasn’t like, ‘Jay, I want you as our quarterback, you’re our guy.’ It felt like the opposite. He basically said that I needed to tell him if we can’t work this out, to let him know. I thought he was antagonizing me and that was disappointing because I was ready to move on, committed as a Bronco. Really, I figured we’d hash things out, shake hands, laugh a little and move forward.
You know, even after the meeting, I hung around town, kind of expecting him to call me and say, ‘Hey, let’s just me and you get away and have lunch or a cup of coffee’ and mend things, but that didn’t happen. So, I get it, really, it’s a business. I’m disappointed because I love being a Bronco but I think it’s run its course. -Jay Cutler, March 2009
If the Broncos end up signing Peyton Manning, they’ll have gotten a player they think will lead them to another Super Bowl victory.
However, if Manning decides to take his game to the desert, the Broncos need to be exceptionally diligent in reaching out to their starting quarterback to clear the air, lest history repeats itself. That’s just good business.