Peyton Manning’s 2015-16 NFL season has been a remarkable one. Many have said he was too old, too broken down and that time had passed him by. But Manning proved them all wrong and had what is, in my opinion, simply the greatest comeback story in sports history.
For me personally, Manning’s season was about much more than football, though.
I am someone who is diagnosed with a disability, or what I call a mobility problem, known as cerebral palsy. In short, my mobility problem makes it difficult to get from place to place and I have to workout every day in order to keep my legs in good condition, yet people still doubt me, like they did Manning.
Manning’s four-interception game against the Chiefs was his “Tittle Moment,” said Kevin Seifert in his ESPN article “Peyton Manning joins long list of Hall of Fame QBs who played too long.”
The article compares Manning to NFL greats like Brett Favre, Troy Aikman, Jim Kelly and Dan Fouts, not for their incredible careers, but rather for the games and moments that proved them to be, “too-late retirements,” according to the ESPN article.
Even after making this comeback seven weeks later and leading the Denver Broncos to the playoffs, people still doubted “The Sheriff.”
“Pardon the gloating, but I told you so, I told you so, I told you so,” Tony Massarotti said in his CBS Local Sports article, “Peyton Manning is Done,” after the Denver Broncos took on the New England Patriots.
The article talked at length about Manning’s body not being able to withstand the throws and hits that come with the game of football.
“It’s all over for Peyton Manning, folks. And it has been for a while,” Massarotti said.
Despite this claim, Manning proved those in doubt wrong and led the Broncos to a Super Bowl victory in what will go down, in my opinion, as the greatest Super Bowl of all time.
Immediately after the clock hit zero and the Broncos were declared the Super Bowl champions, questions of a possible retirement flooded Manning. After weeks of anticipation, Manning gave word of his decision.
“After 28 days of deliberation, Manning retired, drawing the curtain on a breathtaking 18-year career in which he broke every meaningful NFL passing record and won two Super Bowls,” Troy E. Renck said in The Denver Post article “Peyton Manning retires from football after 18 NFL seasons.”
While the numbers are important, I believe the truly meaningful thing Manning did was make football more than just a game.
Despite the doubters and the injuries, Manning came back and accomplished what some said would be impossible. I, like Peyton, have been told that I can’t do things, that I’m simply not good enough and that my body is too broken to accomplish something.
Manning has showed me that you can do anything you set your mind to and that he is more than just a great football player. “The Sheriff” or a “too-late retiree,” Manning is the perfect example of perseverance and dedication.
While it’s sad to see him go, the end of Manning’s football career is the beginning of his legacy, so thanks 18, it’s been one hell of a ride.