Peyton Manning was but an observer on Championship Sunday, a time of year when he's so often been the center of attention. He was at a football game Sunday, but only to cheer for his brother Eli. He was on your TV, too, hustling pizza with Jerome Bettis and the Papa.
Next year, Peyton hopes to be back on the field, though there's uncertainty about where that might be. The Colts are in the midst of massive organizational upheaval and will soon employ Andrew Luck. If they decide they don't want Peyton, count the Miami Dolphins among those with strong interest. From Barry Jackson at The Miami Herald:
Manning sits atop the Dolphins' quarterback wish list this offseason, and they will aggressively pursue him if he's a free agent and if he's cleared medically, two people with direct knowledge of Miami's plans said in the past week.
It's so weird to think about Peyton Manning in another uniform.
But if it's going to happen, Miami's as good a destination as anywhere. The Dolphins spent the second half of their regular season playing some quality football, especially defensively. It's also easy to envision a combination of Manning and wide receiver Brandon Marshall doing some damage.
It's fair to wonder what Manning would value more ‒ loyalty to the Colts or a desire to be with a winner in the late stages of his career. The Colts, in 2011, didn't look like a team that could provide him with both. We're a long, long way from anything like this even becoming close to a reality, but there'll be no shortage of speculation in the meantime. That's fun, too.