Now that the Peyton Manning where-will-he-play saga has been in full force for a few days, there has been ample time for somebody--anybody--to postulate, just for a second, that signing Manning might NOT be as wise as it seems.
Well, they haven't.
Fortunately for the six of you who read this blog, though, those days are over. Today, On the Jon proudly presents the novel notion that Peyton Manning, gasp, might not be worth it.
Let's start with the obvious: Manning is 36 and coming off a neck injury that can be described as no less than scary. As a point of reference, the number of quarterbacks who have won a Super Bowl at 36 or older is a whopping 3: Johnny Unitas, Jim Plunkett and John Elway. A good list, sure, but not exactly one that belies a trend.
And I'm pretty sure none of those guys missed the previous season with a career-threatening injury, let alone one that nobody is sure has been fixed yet. I'll relent, though. I've seen people go on to achieve great fame despite serious neck and central nervous system problems. You have guys like Stephen Hawking and, uh, probably another scientist or two. But last time I checked, Stephen Hawking wasn't exactly facing a double A-gap blitz from theoretical physics.
Peyton Manning will be, and despite everything said to the contrary there is simply no way to know how (if?) the neck will stay healthy.
Amid all the variables and uncertainties surrounding the Manning recruitment, three things are clear: a lot of teams will want him, it will cost the GDP of some African nations to sign him and the Flyers will go as far in the playoffs as their goaltending can take them.
None of the teams most actively pursuing Manning--namely the Dolphins, Cardinals, Broncos and Seahawks--are abjectly horrible, so a case can be made that adding a healthy Manning could make them into a contender. But what happens in the off chance that it doesn't?
What if Manning comes back and signs a deal in the 3 year, $60 million range that has been floating around (most, if not all, guaranteed) and he's just not that good anymore? What if he gets hit the wrong way, lands on his back and re-aggravates the already damaged neck and nerves?
The answer to the aforementioned "what-ifs" is quite simply that the team who signs him is, as the kids say, fucked. They'll be out $60 million after taking a risky investment on a quarterback they signed to play for them from the ages of 36-39 who's 2-4 in the playoffs since winning the Super Bowl five years ago. And, just as telling, they'll be in an extremely unhealthy state as a franchise, having mortgaged the future to surround Manning with the best possible "win-now" cast.
To take it a step further, my dad, the legendary Phil Moss, asked me the other day if I'd want the Eagles to roll the dice with Manning. To his astonishment, I said no.
Quite simply, the chances that Manning stays healthy and channels the 2004-06 version of himeslf-- when he threw an obscene 108 touchdowns against only 29 interceptions--and the Eagles shore up the defense to the point that it's Super Bowl caliber are not very good. Oh, and the Eagles already have a talented roster of skill position players who respect and look up to Michael Vick. Nobody wants to admit it, but signing Manning could be caustic in the locker room.
This column is not about the Eagles, however; it's about Manning. And it's about the half dozen or so teams treating him like a Ferrari.
What they don't seem to be considering, however, is that the Ferrari in the showroom might just turn out to be a lemon. Someone will invest well north of $50 to figure out how the Manningmobile still runs.
But as the Colts have demonstrated, Manning's future might have a little too much to do with...Luck.