With NFL free agency currently in full frenzy, this week’s #tbt post takes a look back at the greatest free agent signing in history: PFM, Mr. Peyton fuckin’ Manning to the Denver Broncos.
“PEYTON FUCKIN’ MANNING! IF YOU DON’T BLEED ORANGE AND BLUE, TAKE YOUR BITCHASS HOME” shouted a t-shirt salesman on the streets of Denver, Colo., outside of Sports Authority Field at Mile High during Manning’s tenure.
Now, I get it, there are other notable signings such as Reggie White to the Packers, Deion Sanders to San Francisco and Dallas, and Drew Brees to the Saints, but we bleed orange and blue around here.
You see, when Peyton came to the Broncos, he didn’t just change what was happening on the field, he brought about systematic change to the entire organization. Upon his arrival, Manning did not find the menu selection provided to the players to be suitable, so he ripped the kitchen staff a new one and made sure they provided more nutritious options to fuel athlete recovery. That’s jefe right there.
If we cut the shit, PFM should’ve went to three Super Bowls in his four year tenure in Denver. Fuck you Raheem “The Dream” Moore. The Dream was more like a goddamn nightmare in the secondary trying to cover Jacoby Jones in the divisional round of the playoffs for the 2012 season. The Broncos won the division in the regular season and were the favorites at home. Had he not shat the bed and fell in, there’s zero doubt in my mind the Broncos would have represented the AFC in the Super Bowl.
In year two, Peyton Manning whipped out his man-thing and put it on the table. He went on to rewrite the single season offensive records, effectively sending a forehead-sized “Fuck You” to Tom Brady. The Broncos went on to get annihilated by the Seattle Seahawks in the most depressing Super Bowl to date, yet Manning still set historical marks in that contest.
Following the Super Bowl blowout came the fallout. Head Coach John Fox was on the hot seat and his conservative approach were not enough for a Super Bowl rebound. He was fired following a first round exit in the playoffs to the Colts.
In his final season, Peyton rode off into the sunset. He was bruised and broken down, but rode into retirement on that white bronco nonetheless. He was hobbled with injury that kept him out of action for a few weeks during the regular season. Backup Brock Osweiler was able to not only keep the Broncos playoff hopes alive, but retained home field advantage as well.
Because Osweiler had been performing, Head Coach Gary Kubiak was reluctant to reinsert Manning into the lineup at first. However, in a filmed practice session, Manning, being the good fellow that he is, flipped Kubiak the verb as if to say in a Henry Hill voice, “Fuck you, play me.” In week 17 of the regular season, got his chance in the second half against San Diego. Osweiler had a subpart first half and the team needed a spark. Coach Kubiak made the call to Peyton out of the bullpen and the rest is history. The team immediately responded to Manning’s return; they never lost again.
During the postseason, Manning’s savviness as a veteran quarterback was oozing everywhere. His physical capacity is a shell of what it once was, but his mind was as sharp as ever. In the divisional game against Pittsburgh, Peyton avoided a sack and completed a pass that drew controversial attention with its Belichick-esque rule bending. In the AFC Championship, Manning squared off with long-time rival Brady one last time. Manning threw two TDs and was able to manage to the game well enough to keep Brady off the field. Four years of blood, sweat, and tears came to an Apex on February 7, 2016, when Manning was able to hoist that Lombardi Trophy high above his head after defeating the Carolina Panthers.
Manning was a breed of his own when it comes to quarterback play. Cheers to you #18, you future Hall of Famer, you.
–Jordan Kurtz is a founding member of Comments From The Peanut Gallery