BREAKING UPDATE: Manning signing with Denver, Tebow on the trading block.
Peyton Manning is coming to Denver today to decide whether or not he wants to be the Denver Broncos’ next starting quarterback. Just a couple weeks after John Elway announced that Tim Tebow would be the de facto starter going into 2012 training camp, a free agent sure to unseat him is flying to Denver on the Broncos’ private jet with Elway, head coach John Fox and GM Brian Xanders.
That trio of top Broncos personnel chiefs met with Manning in Stillwater, OK earlier today after the club’s private jet flew to Miami to pick Peyton up. (Denver’s head honchos were in Oklahoma to check out the Pro Day for first day draft pick Brandon Weeden – another possible suitor for Tebow’s job.) Right about now the four are sitting down to discuss a future where Manning comes to Denver – presumably to finish his storied NFL career.
Make no mistake – Peyton Manning would beat out Tim Tebow in a training camp battle. Manning is one of the best pure passers, one of the best QB’s at reading coverages to ever play the game. Tebow has tons of intangibles with the ability to extend plays and run through linebackers, but he is a site thrower. That means Tebow doesn’t so much read defensive coverages as react to them and then keep the play alive long enough to lead a receiver to the ball.
Manning knows where to go before the snap. He knows where his guys will be, he knows where the defense will be, and he follows through a progression of reads until he hits the open guy. He is the pocket passer that Elway and Fox so desperately want Tebow to be. More than that, he is a first-ballot Hall of Fame quarterback with a Super Bowl ring and a history of being the most valuable player on a perennial playoff team.
For Broncos fans, though, this is no easy decision. We learned to love Tebow through an amazing, enthralling, positively exhilarating run of games last season that elevated the Broncos from the dregs of the league all the way up to a playoff win over the Pittsburgh Steelers at Mile High Stadium. What’s more, Tebow is a worldwide celebrity with a fanatical following. There is no doubt that Manning coming to Denver will lead to a hailstorm of controversy from the standpoint of Broncos fans who love Timmy, and Timmy fans who could care less about the Broncos.
This hurts in a way. In the years following the Elway Super Bowls we watched the Broncos degrade into a laughing stock and then suddenly get resurrected by Tim Tebow and John Fox and mild-mannered super-rusher Von Miller. And you better believe we wanted more of the same. Whether the Denver Broncos as they exist right now can deliver a season even remotely as successful as the last is debatable, but by god we were willing to put our faith in an unconventional quarterback and let the chips fall.
Now Elway & Company are trying out the biggest free agent in a generation. Will they even keep Tebow around if Manning comes on board? It is hard to believe that they will. Even if Tebow’s relatively inexpensive contract means that he could be kept on-hand and used in specialty packages – or even in some odd tandem with Peyton – the most likely scenario has Denver trading Tim before Draft Day.
Never mind how Tim Tebow must feel about all this; playing his heart out and rescuing a team from a 1-4 start only to have his abilities continuously questioned. Broncos fans are gut-wrenched right now. We’re all asking ourselves what is better: bring in the four-time league MVP and try to make a run, or stick it out with the young Tebow and pray that he grows into the quarterback we all dream he can be?
It makes you wish that John Elway had the kind of faith that fans do. But Vice Presidents of NFL franchises do not have the luxury of operating on faith. In truth, bringing Manning to Denver would be a coup. A dozen teams would love to land Peyton, but Manning’s short list has him visiting just three clubs (Miami, Denver and Arizona) so far and hoping to make a decision by the start of free agency on Tuesday.
In truth, bringing Peyton Manning to Denver would make the Broncos faithful the envy of half the league. But you know what? We already feel like the envy of the league. For better or worse the prevailing feeling in Broncosland today is not overtly hopeful that we land Manning – not like it is in Miami and Arizona. The Broncos faithful have placed their faith in the kid with the million dollar smile and the elongated throwing motion.
Right now Elway, Fox and Xanders are working to bring Peyton Manning to Denver permanently. Right now Broncos fans are hurting and hoping that our Mile High Fairytale will not be over before it began.