It’s alright, Colts fans…you can admit it. Watching Peyton Manning headed to Super Bowl XLVIII with the Denver Broncos is a little bittersweet.
And I’d be lying if I told you it didn’t give me a pit in my stomach (ok, a crater) to watch Peyton covered in orange and blue confetti, hoisting the AFC Championship trophy on Sunday.
But, at the same time, I also couldn’t be happier for him. He so deserves it. And it’s obvious how he’s enjoying, even cherishing every moment of this amazing season.
As the National Anthem played prior to the championship game between the Broncos and the New England Patriots, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady stared at the ground, as if he was focused on what came next…the game. Peyton Manning, as usual, had his hand over his heart, his focus on the American flag, and was clearly present and taking in the moment.
Yet another playoff game for Peyton, but a special one for a 37-year-old quarterback who worked his way back from multiple neck surgeries for the best season of his career (and quite possibly any NFL quarterback).
I knew Colts fans would have some difficulty dealing with Peyton’s success this season, in part because I have mixed feelings about it myself. But, let’s get real. We can sit here and play coulda, woulda, shoulda all day long. Still, this changes nothing.
In signing Manning, the Broncos took a high-stakes bet which paid off (especially if he wins the Super Bowl). But John Elway knew what he was doing. And so did Peyton Manning when he signed with them. The Broncos were a team with everything in place to be successful, everything except a franchise quarterback to lead them there.
In parting with Manning, the Colts sacrificed the short term for the long term. And judging by the last two seasons, (11-5 and a postseason appearance last season, 11-5 and a playoff win this season) I feel comfortable calling that tradeoff a success…even in the short term.
No matter how you feel about it, you have to look at it realistically as a deal that worked out for the best…for both teams. And for Peyton Manning.
Do I still miss Peyton? Yes. Will I ever get used to seeing him in a Broncos uniform? Probably not. Do I want him to win the Super Bowl anyway? Absolutely.
The Broncos’ time is now.
The Colts’ time is coming.
In the meantime, let’s cheer on our new quarterback, Andrew Luck…as he plays in the second Pro Bowl of his two-year career this Sunday.
And next Sunday, let’s cheer on our old quarterback, as he sets out to prove once and for all…what Colts fans knew all along.
That Peyton Manning is the best quarterback to ever play the game.
No matter what color his jersey.