Manning needs to walk away from football


Niki Smithers, Sports Editor

Go back to April 18, 1998. The stage for the NFL draft was set, and the Indianapolis Colts were on the clock. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell walked out to the podium and read the first pick of the 1998 NFL draft.
Now, that first pick of the 1998 NFL draft holds the NFL career passing touchdowns record (539), the career passing yards record (9,380), the record for the most career wins by any quarterback (200), and 12 more records.
It’s not hard to see the impact Peyton Manning has made on the NFL. Look at almost any major passing record. His name is right next to it. As a five-time NFL MVP, Manning is going to be a first ballot Hall of Famer. Now, I’m wondering is he’s selfish. He just won his second Super Bowl. There’s nothing left for him to prove.
Maybe Manning is the best teammate in the locker room. Maybe he says all the right things at all the right times. But, he has all the money he and his family will ever need. He has almost all the career accolades. He’s also already had four neck surgeries, and with a family history of spinal injuries, there’s no reason to keep playing and risk paralysis. If he were to get hit the wrong way, both his and his family’s lives would change forever.
Football is one the most physically demanding sports out there, especially for a quarterback. Getting hit over and over again, week in and week out is hard on anyone’s body, but Manning’s at the ripe age of 39, and his body is no longer performing at the level it used to.
From the herniated disc in his neck that ended his career with the Indianapolis Colts to the torn plantar fasciitis that took him out of six games this season, the latter part of Manning’s career was plagued by injuries. After his fourth neck surgery in 2011, Manning had lost the feeling in his fingertips. This season Manning had the lowest completion percentage since his rookie year. Along with that he threw for a career low of nine touchdowns and 2,249 yards, and only had a quarterback rating of 67.9.
I don’t care what anyone says. Manning did not lead the Broncos to a Super Bowl victory this year. Brock Osweiler did. While Manning was out, Osweiler threw for almost 2,000 yards and won five out of the eight games he played. Manning was absolute trash in the Super Bowl. He is the sole reason the Panthers held on until the fourth quarter. He threw for no touchdowns and one interception and lost a fumble in the fourth quarter. If the Super Bowl proved anything about Manning, it’s that he needs to hand the reins over to Osweiler.
But, football isn’t the only thing Manning needs to consider when he makes a decision about his future. As a husband and father of two 4-year-olds, Manning needs to remember what his family wants and needs. His kids are in a crucial time of development, and it would be good for them if their father wasn’t travelling eight times in 17 weeks, not including the preseason and postseason.
If he keeps risking his health for at least 17 weeks a season, while missing his son and daughter grow up, he’s selfish. Manning needs to be cautious about what he does, not just for the sake of himself, but for the sake of his family. Even if he still loves football, there are ways other than playing to stay involved. With the intelligence he has, Manning could easily become a coach or a general manager, and I’m not the only one who thinks that. ESPN analyst Bill Polian said Manning “would be ready immediately” after he retires to be a general manager. There are other options out there for him, and he’s selfish if he doesn’t take them.
I’m a Colts fan, and I’m grateful for what Manning did in Indianapolis. So, I really hope that I’m wrong and that he won’t be selfish in this decision.