March 7th, 2016 will go down in history as the end of an era for fans of the great game, and for fans of the good guy. On March 7th, the entire country said goodbye to one of the great heroes of modern football as we know it. On the 7th day of March in the year 2016, Peyton Manning announced his retirement from the National Football League. 2x Super Bowl winner, five-time MVP winner made the announcement at a Bronco’s press conference, not even a month after winning Super Bowl 50 against the Carolina Panthers.
During the conference, it was easily viewable to even the non-football fan watching the video of the announcement that football was more than just a game to Manning. The New Orleans-born Quarterback was emotional, and showed just how much the game truly meant to him. The same man whom thousands grew up not just watching, but idolizing. Whenever the football left the hands of Manning, hearts skipped a beat around the world. The impossible, suddenly became possible. It wasn’t just how good he was. He was testament that with a lot of hard work, and endless pursuance, you, or I, could be in his shoes. Whether it be in his 13 full seasons with the Colts of Indianapolis, or in the seasons until his retirement with the Denver Broncos, there was always a little sparkle about the way Peyton Manning played, and also handled himself. Young men all over America, and in other parts of the world, grew up watching this commanding general lead his teams to records, trophies, and perhaps most importantly for kids such as myself whom grew up watching his every move, memories.
Memories come in abundance with the mention of Peyton Manning. He holds a stunning total of over 20 records in the National Football League, and leaves a legacy that, without a doubt is bound for Canton. It’s an emotional affair for sports fans any time that a sports icon retires, and the case for Manning is no different. There has been a clear switch in the way football has been played in recent years. The pocket-controlling, long-pass hurling quarterbacks of old are becoming fewer and fewer in today’s league, being replaced with the (just as fun to watch, no less) quick-passing, quarterbacks who are built on speed, and escaping defenses. Still, the NFL, will always have a place for quarterbacks who are able to control the field like Manning has done for the past eighteen seasons.
Good quarterbacks will come and go, but for a generation of still-young football fans, the man who we idolized growing up, will go with a special kind of sorrow. Never again will we see the famed matchup of Peyton Manning taking on Tom Brady. Never again, as evidenced by his changed reaction after the most recent Super Bowl, will we hear Peyton say “I’m going to Disney World!” as he stands in the confetti shower on the field after almost assuredly winning the MVP of the game. Manning is the first quarterback to ever reach 200 wins, and the only player to ever win a Super Bowl with two different teams. Upon his announcement, players like DeMarcus Ware, Vernon Davis, and Cam Newton (his most recent Super Bowl opponent) all congratulated Manning on his retirement, and joined in the chorus of thousands of football fans all over the world that sung of his accomplishments.
As for the young men who grew up idolizing Peyton Williams Manning, the ones now coming into their prime, both as players themselves, and as the fans, we will continue to love the great game, even after heroes like Manning and the countless others who have announced retirement this year, are gone. Though, there will always be a special place in our heart for “The Sheriff,” “The Middle Manning,” and simply, Peyton. Football goes on, as modern superstars rise up to take the places of Peyton and others like him, just as they took the place of others before them. On the 7th of March, in the year 2016, a legend stepped back from football. Though he may be walking away from the game, his memories, will always remain.