If there’s a single sober soul in Denver, or anywhere in Colorado this upcoming Super Bowl parade, I believe he ought to be ashamed of himself. Somewhere between the legalization of marijuana and the coronation of the Broncos as Super Bowl #50’s champions, and Peyton Manning’s promises to engage in his own fair share of beers ( preferably Miller Lites, I’d hope for the sake of the nativity scene), that sober soul will likely be floating solo at a “Mile High” altitude when the first Bronco sighting appears for today’s celebratory parade, honoring the storybook ending to an incredible football season. And if Peyton doesn’t guzzle the entire state of Colorado’s alcohol supply in celebration, it would be nice of you guys to send a beer Cam Newton’s way….. He certainly looks like he could use a cold one at the moment….
The cause for celebration is heavy enough for the Broncos offensive line to enter today’s parade hoisting the defensive line on their shoulders, especially Super Bowl MVP Von Miller, for essentially reminding the then 17-1 and heavily favored Carolina Panthers of why the Broncos defense was ranked #1 overall in the league to begin with. Beyond that, defensive coordinator Wade Phillips employed brilliant strategies throughout the playoffs that previously stifled the high-powered offenses of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Peyton’s biggest career nemesis, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. In fact, the Broncos great performance in the Super Bowl against a Carolina team who ranked #1 on total offense and entered the game having steamrolled the Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals in the playoffs, was perhaps only bested by Seattle’s defensive performance over the Broncos just three Super Bowls ago, in a year where Peyton led the most prolific offensive season in the history of football, only for that great offense to be reduced to a mere 8 points in a disappointing Super Bowl massacre of a defeat. How great is must feel to reverse that misfortune….
Last but certainly least, while it’s certainly no big secret that Peyton Manning has had far better games and better seasons than this Super Bowl-winning one, perhaps it was the most telling of his greatness in the first place. One could only imagine the dynasty that could’ve been if the Peyton Manning we knew as everyone’s prohibitive number one draft pick in Fantasy Football had been accompanied by this dominant defense all along, especially if even the worst version of Peyton we ever saw was still enough to score the elusive Super Bowl ring with it at age 39, adding to his milestones now the oldest QB in NFL history to start and win a Super Bowl. Yes, the defense may have win the game, but anyone who’s followed Peyton’s entire career would be happy for him that got to carry him on their back for once, as opposed to him doing the carrying only to be criticized when carrying a team and playoff victories often became too much to juggle all at once… In the end, every quarterback has been judged on the bottom line of “getting the job done”, whether entirely fair or not, and his multiple rings after taking a record-breaking 4 different coaches and two different teams to Super Bowl triumph will be difficult to ignore in retrospect of his overall legacy.
Even the greatest players need help to win in a team sport, or as Peyton once cleverly said about his waning performances, “I’m not a lead singer anymore, but I can still hit a solo every now and then”. Brock Osweiller can celebrate knowing he contributed to this Super Bowl birth and likely earned himself some entertaining offers upon his off-season. John Elway can celebrate bringing a third title to the Bronco franchise, only this time from the Presidential suite. And Denver as a whole can celebrate the historical chapters this storybook ending has of a declining legend losing his starting spot, only to regain it by securing a #1 seed for his team on the final game of the regular season, beating his biggest rival in the AFC Championship to take the series lead in playoff meetings, and end his season and possibly his career with a ring that will forever kill the General consensus of the “Peyton can’t get the job done” arguments, and focus more of the attention on his endless list of accomplishments at the quarterback position. As the confetti falls upon your parade Denver Broncos fans, in light of your state’s marijuana leniency, I’m pleased to advise you to “Smoke Safely”, and forever ride the “Rocky Mountain High” you’re on right now. I’m just sad that when the high is officially gone, I’ll have to pick a new favorite active player, and Peyton was a tough act to follow.
Signing off until next time….Contact the Feature Writers