Tuesday 12 December 2017 / 12:19 AM

What to do with Peyton Manning?

What do Brett Favre, Joe Namath, Troy Aikman and Peyton Manning have in common?

They’re all Hall-of-Fame quarterbacks and they all stretched their careers one season too many.

In Favre’s final hurrah (2010) he tossed as many INTs in the opening four games than in the entire 2009 campaign. Aikman’s final year saw his interception ratio double and his QBR drop nearly 20 points – a pair of concussions prevented him from playing the final four games in his last season (2000). Namath lost 17 of his final 21 starts.

And the list goes on and on.

Jim Kelly, Dan Fouts, Johnny Unitas.

They all tried to eke out 12 more months of glory when it was clearly time to hang up the cleats and hit the broadcast booth.

They all suffered through their own personal Y.A. Tittle Moment.

You don’t know Tittle. Hell, I don’t know Tittle. But this vintage black and white photo of an old, bald quarterback, broken to his knees, bleeding on the battlefield has become the measuring stick for signal callers ready to be put out to pasture.

4 interceptions, 2 sacks, 1 fumble, 35 yards passing. We’ve seen Manning’s Y.A. Tittle Moment and it was perhaps the ugliest of them all.

And now he’s out, with Plantar Fasciitis. He’s missed every meeting this week and it doesn’t look like he’s traveling with the team to Chicago. It’s time to wonder if he’ll ever suit up again.

Or if he even should…

Rooting for Osweiler

If I were Peyton I’d be pulling for Brock Osweiler to play like a champion. Not just for the “wins” but for an easier out.

If Brock plays well Peyton can bow out with grace. If Osweiler proves to be a legitimate NFL starter, Manning can say goodbye with no hard feelings. He can hand over the reins with his team in first place. He can retire with no “what ifs” and end this horror show quickly and quietly in the hopes the football world just kind of forgets the 2015 season ever happened – at least as far as #18 is concerned.

And all signs point to the 6’7”, 4th-year pro performing up to snuff. After all, he’s taking over a team with the nastiest defense in the NFL and a ridiculous three-game lead in the AFC West. He’s only got to play OK to represent a marked improvement and coast on in to the playoffs.

If I were Peyton I’d hope Osweiler tears it up out there. It’s the closest option available to climbing into a time machine and erasing these past 9 games altogether.

The Legacy

It’s not all Peyton’s fault that he’s hung himself out to dry this season. For the past half-decade pundits have harped on Manning’s infamous legacy and how he needed a second title to keep his name in the race for the Greatest of All Time.

The pressure to bring home another ring must have trebled following his not-even-close Super Bowl blowout loss to Seattle. I don’t blame him for wanting so badly to ride off into the sunset at the top of his game.

The problem is that it’s so painfully obvious now that it aint gonna happen. He’s doing more damage to his legacy than good.

He’s ranked 28th out of 31 qualified quarterbacks in QBR.

And the media is starting to take the piss. Stop the bleeding Peyton.

For now, Broncos Coach Gary Kubiak is “mum’s the word” on whether Peyton gets his job back if Osweiler plays well – but we all know the answer and Manning does, too.

I hope he takes that uncomfortable decision and announcement out of Kubiak’s hands. There wouldn’t be a damn bit of shame in grabbing the clipboard and cheering on #17. 

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Michael Airhart

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