On the same day that he overtook Brett Favre to set the NFL record for career passing yards, Peyton Manning was benched for 24-year-old career backup Brock Osweiler. What a way to celebrate.
At the time of his benching, the 39-year-old future Hall of Famer had thrown for four fewer yards than years he's been alive. He'd completed five passes to his teammates and four passes to the other team. He'd fumbled once.
As Manning suffered the indignity of a third quarter benching, it was easy to imagine that he'd taken the last snap of his career. That's how awful he's been this season. And with the Broncos jumping out to a 7-2 record despite his 17 interceptions and bottom of the league quarterback rating, Sunday's ghastly performance looked like the perfect opportunity for coach Gary Kubiak to make a clean break from his aging quarterback.
And now that looks even more likely, as ESPN is reporting that Manning has a torn plantar fascia. The injury will keep him out of next week's game and then Manning will be given the opportunity to retake the Broncos' reins if he's capable. Don't count on it.
Anyone who's watched Kobe Bryant chuck up airball after airball this season knows the opponent currently defeating Manning. It's called old age and it's a bitch. After 14 seasons in the NFL and countless hits by freakishly large men, Manning's body is turning to dust. And his legacy has taken some healthy body blows too.
Manning may not have control over chronic injuries, constant pain, and the overall disappearance of his skills, but he does have control over his ego. There's no question that the Broncos respect Manning and will give him every opportunity to take back the position that they signed him to play. But for Manning's sake and for ours, let's hope he thinks better of it. With the NFL' all-time passing yards record, a Super Bowl, five MVPs and gobs of money, Manning doesn't have anything else to play for. That's why we're hoping he takes a long look in the mirror as he sits out this week and, to the tune of the Nationwide jingle, sings: Peyton time to hang it up.
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