FORT COLLINS, CO – As Peyton Manning began racing across the Levi Stadium grass as time expired, you’d think he’d be sprinting towards his wife, kids, parents or hell, even brother Eli. After all, he had just won his 2nd Super Bowl, in what most think was his last NFL game. Wanting to share the glory with family was understandable; Tom Brady did exactly that last year.
And this was after not ending his career 5 years ago when doctors spoke ominously about his worsening spinal stenosis. Even then, we would have still seen him go into the Football Hall of Fame – as soon as he was eligible. He already owned most of the NFL Passing records and accolades from a great career that included 5 MVPs!
But those things weren’t going to satisfy that Son of an Archie. There were tens of millions still to be made. And his health be damned, he was going to to milk every nickel out of this football thing.
After major neck surgery, he signed a near $100M contract with the Denver Broncos. Somewhere along the way, he fell in love with the sound of money rattling around in his uniform pants. So, with the cameras trained on his every move after #SB50 was in the books, we all sat waiting for the embrace. And we were not disappointed… For there in the middle of the field, like Leslie Nielsen running at Priscilla Presley in Naked Gun, was Papa John (John Schnatter), hugging Manning. No, your eyes weren’t getting it wrong: on perhaps the biggest football day of his life, Manning shared a kiss first-with Papa John.
Shortly after this tender embrace of franchise partners (Peyton owns 38 Papa John’s locations in the Denver area) there he was explaining to the millions watching, that his immediate plans were to drink lots of Budweiser. Not to go lay on a beach and decompress. Not to take his family away somewhere. But to go drink not just a generic “beer.”No, it had to be the King of Beers… Budweiser. After all, he is a significant investor in several New Orleans area Bud distributorships.
Changing gears, the NFL brought Super Bowl MVPs from the past half century out to the field to be recognized prior to the game, and Manning’s name was called for having won honors in his 1st Super victory. But he did not come out to the field. Instead we were shown a shot of Peyton in the locker room, drinking… guess what? A bottle of Gatorade. Another of his endorsers.
Manning now personifies greed and the power of product placement. It was disgraceful, and he showed no awkwardness or awareness about the appearance of such insistent “selling” on his part every time a microphone was placed in front of him.
It appears to be the perfect time for him to retire, and ride off after finally snaring that elusive 2nd SB championship. That would be a fitting and even romantic way to end a story book career. But I say there’s no chance Manning retires now. And the HGH rumors? Hard to dismiss out of hand now that we know what really drives him. Peyton doesn’t look at what’s left in his tank from a football perspective. He sees only what’s left in his endorsement tank. And that tank is more full if he’s an active player.
Peyton will play in the NFL next season. There’s too much cash on the table still. That’s all he cares about.
Speaking of Money, come back tomorrow for Angry Ward, who’s so “money” he doesn’t even know it.