One of the most competitive individuals on the planet now has another goal to chase. Peyton Manning can be the first quarterback to win a Super Bowl as a starter with two different franchises.
And, if it does happen, it will likely happen either this year or next.
When he left San Francisco for Kansas City, Joe Montana led the Chiefs to the AFC championship game at the age of 37. As a 37 year old, Kurt Warner led the Arizona Cardinals to the Super Bowl, where the Cardinals lost to Pittsburgh.
Peyton Manning turns 36 Saturday.
Manning has several obstacles and question marks as he attempts to lead Denver to a Super Bowl.
And his health, after missing the entire 2011 season with a neck injury is only one of the potential pitfalls.
Manning's supporting cast isn't exactly stellar. On the Denver Broncos depth chart, the starting wide receivers are Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker. Both would have been hard pressed to get on the field, for say, the New Orleans Saints in 2011.
The Broncos could sign free agent wide receiver Mike Wallace of the Steelers. But the Steelers, tendered Wallace at the highest number. They can match any offer he received from the Broncos. Or if they chose not to, Pittsburgh would get a first round pick as compensation.
Another potential question mark is how the philosophies of Manning and head coach John Fox, mesh. Fox loves to run the football. But, the Broncos aren't shelling out $19 million per season to watch Peyton hand off to Willis McGahee and Lance Ball.
Does Fox convince Manning that running the football effectively and relying a little more on your defense is the proper approach? Or does Fox adjust, and give Manning free reign to the throw the football at will?
Manning will also have to adjust to the outdoors. The only four-time Most Valuable Player in the history of the NFL will play 15 of 16 regular season games outdoors. Only a road game at Atlanta will be indoors. And, all eight AFC West games every season will be played outdoors on grass.
Twice a year, Manning will play a team that has given him fits. His career record against the San Diego Chargers is 4 wins, 5 losses. In back-to-back seasons, 2007 and 2008, the Chargers knocked the Colts out of the playoffs.
Peyton Manning signed a five-year deal worth a reported $96 million.
But my guess is, he'll play three, maybe four years. But, his "Super Bowl window" is likely this year or next.
Manning's history in the game is secure. He's a lock for Canton the first year he's eligible. If he can make a successful return after a major neck injury AND win a Super Bowl in Denver, his status in pro football will be legend, squared.
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