It really seems like Peyton Manning's retirement will come out of the blue, sometime in the middle of a cold offseason.
Will it be next offseason? Who knows. But Manning has avoided the retirement talk since he came to Denver. He simply will not talk about his future plans and when he might walk away from the NFL. After his play slipped late last season, and the Denver Broncos asked him to take a pay cut, the common thought has been that the 2015 season might be it. But there will be no farewell tour, at least this season.
In a promotional interview for NFL Sunday Ticket on DirecTV, Yahoo's Evan Doherty asked Manning when he's going to retire.
"I don't have those thoughts," said Manning, who is 39. "I think about playing football to the best of my ability in 2015."
Perhaps he has it all planned out how he wants to say goodbye to the NFL — this is the master of preparation, right? — but every time he has been asked about it he has never let on. Until he steps away it will be a big story, considering he's truly one of the greatest players the NFL has ever seen and has also been a tremendous ambassador for the sport. But if he's planning on this being his last season (and that's all speculation; there has been no indication he's ready to walk away and he did have a 101.5 rating last season) then he's not going to let it be a distraction for the Broncos. Maybe he'll do the Ray Lewis and tell his team right before the playoffs in hopes of inspiring a Super Bowl run. Maybe he'll continue to play a few more years, until he truly has nothing left to give to football. Only he knows, and he's not telling.
Every tidbit with Manning seems a little bigger than with most other players, because he's the only five-time MVP in league history. So when he told The MMQB's Peter King he hasn't been able to feel his fingertips in his throwing hand since neck surgeries cost him the 2011 season, it became a huge deal.
"it certainly became a little bigger story than I would have liked," Manning said.
Manning hasn't gone out of his way to discuss his physical limitations since he left Indianapolis. At some point in retirement (whenever that is), he'll probably reveal in more detail what he has gone through. Maybe. At that point it seems we'll have an even greater appreciation for the second chapter of his career. No high-profile quarterback has had such success with two different teams. After all those neck surgeries, Manning authored what is likely the greatest NFL single-season performance ever, his 55-touchdown season in 2013.
And he has done so without a lot of the physical gifts that he came to the NFL with, as the first overall pick of the 1998 NFL draft.
"I'm a different quarterback than I was before I was injured," Manning told Yahoo. "I had to make adjustments to my new physical state, due to strength issues, tingling sensation issues."
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