Dec 28, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) prepares to pass against the Oakland Raiders in the first quarter at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
The Denver Broncos were experiencing some interesting times in 2011. It was the height of Tebow Mania in Broncos Country. John Elway had rejoined the Denver Broncos, and was beginning to build his team. The Josh McDaniels era had ended, and John Fox had been brought in as the new head coach.
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Broncos history could have taken a much different turn. Some fans, including yours truly, had begun to say things like, “Suck for Luck.” What a catchy phrase. If you are a Broncos fan, you were probably swept up in the Tebow storm, and taking ridiculous pictures of yourself kneeling in odd places. You may have also had strong opinions about whether Tim Tebow could really be a successful NFL quarterback.
Andrew Luck was becoming the eventual number one overall pick, and Tebow was taking Bronco fans on a wild 8-8 ride, including a thrilling victory over the Steelers in the playoffs. Who could forget Demaryius Thomas’ catch and run for the touchdown to win in overtime? It was the highlight if the 2011 season. The Broncos did not “Suck for Luck.”
Some fans… had begun to say things like, “Suck for Luck.”
Another storyline was dominating the NFL that season. Peyton Manning, sitting out the season due to neck surgery, was a constant storyline. There were questions about whether Manning would comeback at all during the season, or ever play again. His Colts were in the process of actually sucking for luck, to the tune of a 1-15 record. Eventually, the decision was made, and the Colts and Manning parted ways.
Jan 4, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) drops back to pass against the Cincinnati Bengals in the first quarter in the 2014 AFC Wild Card playoff football game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Indianapolis made the choice to go with Andrew Luck, and the door was open for John Elway to make his biggest offseason move. Every football fan knows the story, and Manning eventually ended up in Denver. Bronco fans have moved on from Tebow mania, and never looked back. However, things could have worked out much differently.
It is hard not to go into the Divisional round of the playoffs and not think about how things could have been different. Imagine what the Broncos would look like had Tebow not been able to will the team to 8 victories. Could John Elway have pulled off a different move, and landed the number one pick in the draft?
The Denver Broncos franchise is in a great position, but would it have been better if they had lost all their games and ended up with the first pick in the draft? Would Bronco fans be happier with Andrew Luck as their quarterback instead of Peyton Manning? Would the Broncos be one of the top teams in the league with Luck at the helm?
Broncos Country is happy have Peyton Manning as their quarterback. There is just one more step that Manning and the Broncos must take to complete the Peyton Manning story. The journey to that end starts against Manning’s former team, and his successor. Hopefully, it will end in Arizona with blue and orange confetti.