Well, you knew it was going to happen. When John Elway and Peyton Manning took the podium at the Denver Broncos' Dove Valley facility to announce that Manning was the team's new quarterback, it was the most important press conference in franchise history (at least, the most important since Elway announced his retirement in 1999). But after a few cursory questions about Manning's new role in Denver, the questions for both men moved to what still seems to be the most popular topic of conversation in the NFL:
How does this affect Tim Tebow? (cue dramatic music...)
Manning, whose five-year, $96 million deal effectively puts Tebow on the bench for a number of years or out of town entirely, was the first to address the inevitable when a reporter asked him if he and Elway had discussed the Broncos' former quarterback depth chart.
"We really didn't have any conversations in regard to the quarterback position," Manning said. "I know there are decisions to be made. Look -- let me just say this. I know what kind of player Tim Tebow is, and what kind of person he is. I've gotten to meet him one time, and what an awesome year he had last year. And if Tim Tebow is here next year, I'm going to be the best teammate I can be to him, and he and I will help this team win games. If other opportunities present themselves for him, I'm going to wish him the best -- he's going to be a great player wherever he is. Those aren't my decisions, and those conversations didn't come up with me. This is a place where I wanted to come and play football and help this team win in whatever role or capacity that is."
Manning was then asked if he would reach out to Tebow. "I'm sure I will. I really haven't had a whole lot of time to breathe -- this really happened since Monday morning, and I'm looking forward to getting to know all my Broncos teammates. I met Eric Decker on my visit. Elvis Dumervil and Champ Bailey have been blowing up my phone for the last week-and-a-half, so hopefully that will die down. But there aren't many Broncos players I know personally. Tim, Von Miller, DT [Demaryius Thomas], getting to know the offensive line, that's exciting for me. This is all so new to me, and I look forward to that, I think it will help me get more comfortable through this process."
Once Manning was done, Elway knew he was going to get grilled on the subject. He jokingly asked if there were any questions, and it started right away -- how would Tebow fit into a drastically altered team mindset?
"You know, we're going through that process now," Elway said. "Coach [John] Fox and I called Tim last night, and talked to him about it. I think that having been in this game as long as I have, and seeing as many friends as I've seen that are one day [there] and gone another, or that retire or leave, that this is a tough business. And I will tell you that the toughest thing about this whole [process] is [what's going on with] Tim Tebow, because of what I think of Tim Tebow. The things he did last year were tremendous, and helped turn this organization around from a 4-12 team to a playoff team, and winning the division. I have a great deal of respect for him as a person, and the things that he does.
"That is, no question, the toughest thing about this business -- the personal side. We had to make a decision as an organization - myself, coach Fox, the personnel department, and the coaches -- what would be the best opportunity for the Denver Broncos to be competitive for a world championship? Peyton Manning was that, and that's why we chose to go in that direction.
Elway was then asked if there was a scenario in which Manning and Tebow could co-exist; a thought that Manning didn't appear to find distasteful: "We don't know yet. That is a possibility."
How did Tebow react? "He didn't come out and say he was disappointed, but I'm sure he was," Elway said. "It was a typical Tim Tebow response, in that he was very positive, and said, 'We're talking about Peyton Manning, and I understand what you're doing.' The response was exactly what we know of Tim, and that's always being very, very positive."
Finally, Elway talked about the option of trading Tebow. "There's a possibility of that, and he knows that. Now that we've gone through this process, we're going to go back and look at that, and see what the best thing is for the Broncos."
Elway also said that there have been no specific discussions with other teams about a trade to date.
Stay tuned to Shutdown Corner for more coverage of the Manning story from the press conference and beyond...