It’s easy to forget that this was only a little over two years ago, but it hasn’t really been that long since Tim Tebow was pulling out random-ass wins for the Broncos and each successive miracle produced a new bittersweet expression on John Elway’s face. It looked like the franchise might have little choice but to be stuck with Tebow for years. They won a playoff game and stuff.
Shortly thereafter, though, Peyton Manning got released. He had missed the whole year and the Colts had successfully used Curtis Painter to conquer the Andrew Luck sweepstakes, and Manning’s cap hit was untenable. Everyone could understand it from Indy’s perspective, but the circumstances led to a situation where, as Elway put it on CNN’s Unguarded With Rachel Nichols, there was an opportunity to land a Hall of Fame quarterback with a chip on his shoulder (and also dump Tim Tebow).
Even though Manning’s neck was an enormous question mark, he was a risk several franchises — including the Seahawks, from which Pete Carroll turned Peyton off with unconventional guerrilla tactics — were willing to take. How did Elway convince this year’s MVP to pick Denver?
“I put myself in Peyton’s shoes,” Elway told Nichols, around the 5:30-mark. “If I was, what would I want in my second team? So I just tried to provide that with the Broncos, and then I didn’t hard-sell him. I just said ‘That’s what we have to offer.’
“The one big moment we had was the night that he came to them,” Elway continued. “I said ‘Peyton, here’s my advice to you — not as someone who wants you to come be a Denver Bronco, but as a friend and a fellow quarterback — number one, take your time on this decision because it’s a big decision, and number two make sure that you get away from Indianapolis. I know that that’s where you wanted to finish your career. Unfortunately, the way that things worked out, that’s not gonna happen — so you need to come to grips with that. Get over it, and once you can do that you can pick your next team based on what’s best for Peyton Manning.”
One gets the sneaky suspicion that Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas also came up in talks.
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[Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images]