- Rick Reilly, Columnist, ESPN.com
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You need advice, Peyton Manning. We need a column. It works out.
You seem to have whittled your Stick Your Neck Out Tour down to four teams: Denver, Arizona, Tennessee and Miami. These teams all want you the way Chelsea wants vodka, yet none of them is even sure you can play anymore. Who cares? You are The Bachelor, and they are four blondes in five-inch heels with daddy issues. Let's do this.
You need an unbiased, objective system to break this down. We will work with the time-honored plus/minus system, going from minus-5 to plus-5. Get your calculator out. May the best town win.
Denver plays in a division that could be taken by a team of girl scouts armed with Pez dispensers. The Broncos won it last year with a guy who tossed more dirtballs than a Hooters bouncer. Tennessee has a chance to beat Houston if the Titans get you, I suppose. Arizona -- even with you and your brother -- is not going to beat the 49ers. Miami, going up against Tom Brady twice a year? You'd get to Saturn before you'd get to the playoffs there.
Points: Denver +5, Tennessee and Arizona 0, Miami -5.
In Arizona, you could throw to Larry Fitzgerald Jr., which is like a chef cooking for Vince Wilfork. Hard to beat. But he is only one man, and the Cardinals don't have much beyond him. In Miami, you could throw to Brandon Marshall, if you can throw all the way to Chicago. He just got traded. Denver has Demaryius Thomas, who is only 24 and already a ball-gobbling glutton. Plus, the Broncos have a possible star in Eric Decker. Tennessee has receivers even people in Nashville don't recognize. In uniform.
Points: Arizona +5, Denver and Miami 0, Tennessee -5.
Arizona is paradise in the fall. Miami is sweet, too. Tennessee isn't bad, but neither is Denver. Do you realize the average Denver high in December is 46? That's seven degrees higher than in Indianapolis. Denver also gets about 250 clear, sunny days a year. There's a reason there's no dome in Denver. The Broncos don't need one. Only problem is, if you get Tim Tebow benched, you're going to need a steel umbrella for all the frogs that will rain down.
Points: Arizona and Miami, +5, Tennessee and Denver 0.
It's not as though you're Tom Brady. You can't throw and catch the passes yourself. You're going to need some help. Denver has by far the most cash to buy help with -- nearly $45 million. The Broncos could pay you and sign ungodly talented Chargers WR Vincent Jackson. Or maybe Reggie Wayne? Or maybe you'd like to bring in your old center, Jeff Saturday? (One career -- one rump.) The Titans have a lot, too: $28M, but you'd have to stop after Vincent. The Dolphins have only about $12M. That will barely pay for you and some towels. The Cardinals are $16M over. Maybe somebody forgot to explain to Cards owner Mike Bidwill that the NFL is not a trust fund?
Points: Denver and Tennessee +5, Miami 0, Arizona -5.
You and your brother Eli have always had a dream to play against each other in a Super Bowl. Can't do that if you go to Arizona.
Points: Tennessee, Miami and Denver +5. Arizona 0.
Here's the 2010 murder rate per 100,000 people. Hey, you have to consider these things. Denver 3.6; Phoenix 7.6; Nashville 8.9, Miami 15.4. So, in Denver, your chances of being murdered are low. In Miami, you're basically a metal donkey at a shooting gallery. How good is your flak jacket?
Points: Denver +5, Arizona and Tennessee 0, Miami -5
You're practically a coach already, but you can't make all the decisions. Miami's rookie head coach Joe Philbin has been in the NFL for just nine years. You have wristbands older than that. Tennessee has Mike Munchak coming off his first season as a head coach. Arizona has a good one in Ken Whisenhunt. Denver has a 10-year head-coaching vet in John Fox, who is a player's coach. Also, you might like to end up running a team after you're through playing. What better guy to watch every day than John Elway? And don't forget, Elway won his two Super Bowls at 37 and 38. You're 35. He'll know what you need. Miami, meanwhile, changes GMs the way Gold Club dancers change outfits.
Points: Denver and Arizona +5, Tennessee and Miami -5.
I believe you're a very tough 5 handicap. And you're obsessed. So I'm sure you think the Phoenix area has the best golf of the four cities. Maybe. But the Denver area actually has more courses in Golf Digest's top 100 rankings than any of the other three towns -- Castle Pines (29th) and Cherry Hills (67). (Not going to be hard to get you on, either -- Fox and Elway belong.) Scottsdale has Estancia (62nd), but that's it. Miami has a bunch of courses owned by Donald Trump. Are you a stickler for the rules? Nashville has bubkes, but some of the courses there have twilight leagues.
Points: Denver and Arizona +5, Miami 0, Nashville -5.
Phoenix is the sixth-largest city in America. It's a nice place if you like 1.5 million people and only three highways. Nashville and Denver are smaller, fly-over cities, even smaller than Indy. Miami feels like home if your home is in Caracas. Besides, you have a vacation condo in Miami. If you start working there, too, vacation becomes work. No good.
Points: Tennessee and Denver +5, Arizona 0, Miami -5.
You have twins, a boy and a girl. You need to think about where you want to raise them. Do you want them to grow up to be singers (Tennessee), skiers (Denver), golfers (Arizona) or assisted-living nurses (Miami)?
Points: None. No judging. Just saying.
Arizona ranks first in the nation in number of ant species. (Your two 1-year-old girls aren't going to like that.) Nashville ranks first in the nation in Internet shopping. (Uh-oh. No real shopping. Your wife isn't going to like that.) Miami ranks first in international freight. (Do you like barges?) And Denver ranks first in beer production per capita.
Points: Denver +5, everybody else 0.
So, let's see where you should go, according to our entirely objective and arbitrary system:
(We'll keep a cold one waiting for you.)
Rick Reilly helps Peyton Manning choose between Arizona, Denver, Miami and Tennessee.