Peyton Manning played his first playoff game of the postseason on Sunday. He lost. Well, the Denver Broncos lost, but Manning did not play well. At all. He stunk. That means that Manning has been in a “one-and-done” situation in the NFL Playoffs nine times throughout his illustrious career. No other QB has done that more than four times since 1966.
Let me be clear. Not all of those nine games fall squarely on Manning’s shoulders. He played better in some games than others, but it is difficult to lose a playoff game in the NFL by yourself. That was not the case in yesterday’s AFC Divisional Round loss to the Indianapolis Colts. Manning didn’t lose the game. The Broncos lost the game.
Manning just didn’t play well. He didn’t look like himself. He hasn’t since around the middle of this past season.
That begs the question that is already being asked. It will be asked until we get a definitive answer from No. 18, although speculation will continue to run rampant until the 2015 season kicks off for the Broncos. The question is, obviously, after yet another disappointing playoff loss, is it time that Manning retires?
To me, sadly, the answer may be yes.
Manning is one of the all-time greats. He is a perennial MVP on the field, as well as a solid individual off of the gridiron. He isn’t in the police blotters. He isn’t in the infidelity section of the tabloids. He isn’t involved in any NFL probation programs. He is one of the faces of professional football, and has been for over 15 years.
He is also getting older. He is battling through more injuries. He is fighting the fight that we all one day face, and the opposition is still undefeated.
Father Time. Never loses.
Manning may be finding that out the hard way. It can happen just like that. Ask so many of the greats who wind up going out a bit later than maybe they should have.
Manning was noncommittal when asked about his future playing plans after Sunday’s surprise exit. In the past, win or lose, he would always state that he will be back next year and try to get it right. This time around, Manning said that he will take some time to think about it.
That is not like Manning.
Of course, neither is his performance over the past couple of months. As much as it pains me to say it, perhaps the time is now that Manning retires, thus ending the career of one of the greatest professional football players in the history of the game.
If it is, thanks for the memories, 18.