We don’t know for sure whether Peyton Manning will be the same player he was prior to the neck injury that cost him the 2011 season. We don’t know for sure whether Manning's signing with the Denver Broncos will result in a Super Bowl championship.
But what we do know is Manning and the Broncos are exactly in the situation they want to be.
Tuesday’s news conference was a two-way exercise of relief.
Pragmatic and detailed, Manning seemed at peace with his decision to continue his career with the Broncos after his 14-season tenure with the Indianapolis Colts ended with his release. Manning’s new employers, Broncos owner Pat Bowlen and executive vice president of football operations John Elway, had the look of men who know their pursuit of winning another Super Bowl together is now on the right path.
All three men gushed about each other. There is no doubt the Manning-Broncos relationship is the right fit for all parties. And because of it, there is no doubt: The Tim Tebow show in Denver is rapidly coming to an end.
While the Broncos wanted Manning’s introductory news conference to focus on the new quarterback, there was no way this two-headed story could be told without Tebow’s situation being part of it.
Elway said a trade of Tebow is “possible.” I got the impression it is more probable. Elway essentially talked about Tebow in the past tense. He raved about what a great young man Tebow is and how well Tebow understood and handled his conversation Monday night with Elway and coach John Fox.
There wasn’t a whole lot of talk about how Tebow can fit in Denver. It’s because the Broncos don’t want that to happen. ESPN’s Chris Mortensen said he can see Tebow being traded within 24 to 48 hours. ESPN’s Adam Schefter has reported Green Bay, Jacksonville, Miami and the Jets have all discussed the idea of trading for Tebow. ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio reported a Denver official said if a Tebow trade isn’t finalized, the team will keep Tebow in a reserve role.
However, the feeling in Denver is all Manning and moving forward with him.
Manning said multiple times Tuesday that he was going to get with the Broncos’ training staff and strength coaches immediately after the presser to begin the process in Denver. He talked extensively about his new teammates and coaches.
“We have a lot of work to do,” Manning said.
Manning and Elway both said they have no worries Manning will bounce back from the injury. Elway said he became sold on Manning when the player looked at him and said he had “no doubt" he will be the same old Manning again.
Asked if he could play in an NFL game this coming weekend, Manning, who turns 36 Saturday, said he could. He said he likely wouldn’t be as good as he wanted to be, but with the Broncos’ first game nearly six months away, Manning said he is excited about the progress he has made. He also made a point to mention he is in Denver to win “now.”
Elway and Bowlen believe him. They both said they made this signing with the hopes of winning a Super Bowl. The Broncos and Elway have won two Super Bowl rings together. They know what it takes, and it takes a star quarterback.
Tebow wasn’t it. Manning is it.
There will be no looking back for the Broncos or Manning as the post-Tebow days begin.