For fourteen years, Peyton Manning has worn a horseshoe on the side of his helmet. Today, he finally got the whole horse. Manning intends to become a Denver Bronco, and joins a list of quarterbacks who made themselves legends with one team, then finished their career somewhere else. Here are the top-five all-time "It's going to be really hard to picture that guy in another uniform" quarterbacks.
5. Archie Manning, Houston Oilers and Minnesota Vikings.
Evidently, this sort of thing is in the Manning blood. Eli might want to start embracing his destiny, which appears to be spending his 2019 retirement season with the London Underutilized Dentists, or whatever we end up calling them. Archie spent 10 years with the hapless Saints, making everyone wonder what he might be like if he played on a team that was semi-competent. Eventually, he moved on to the Oilers first, then the Vikings, and mostly, he just kept losing.
4. Brett Favre, New York Jets and Minnesota Vikings.
If we ever do a Shutdown Five of the least graceful career endings of all time, Favre will be number one through five. Here, he'll have to settle for four. After being maybe the most beloved man in the game in Green Bay, Favre trolled the nation with fake retirements until he eventually wound up with the Jets. There, he missed the playoffs and got tangled up with this mess. After several more fake retirements, he then moved on to the Vikings, where he did make one NFC championship, then spent the next year both injured and ineffective.
3. Joe Namath, Los Angeles Rams.
Namath is a Jet, through and through, but he did spend his last, highly forgettable season with the Los Angeles Rams. Even today, Namath is all Jet, even if he doesn't always have nice things to say about them. Also, there was that one time when he couldn't care less about the team. With the Rams, Namath mostly backed up Pat Haden. He started four games, but injuries and age had taken their toll.
2. Joe Montana, Kansas City Chiefs.
This is the late-career stop that Peyton Manning would most like to emulate. The 49ers traded Montana to the Chiefs in 1992, after he'd spent a couple of years nursing an elbow injury and Steve Young took his job. In his first year, Montana took the Chiefs to the AFC championship game, which they lost to Buffalo (sorry, people who like it when the AFC team has a chance to win the Super Bowl). The Chiefs made the playoffs again in his next year, too.
1. Johnny Unitas, San Diego Chargers.
The first group of Colts fans forced to watch a legend end his career elsewhere was actually in Baltimore. They saw the Colts trade Unitas to the San Diego Chargers, which didn't work out particularly well for anybody. Unitas was shot by that point. In five games, his completion percentage and quarterback rating were both under 50. Halfway through the season, he was replaced by a youngster named Dan Fouts.