Peyton Manning, Tim Tebow And John Elway: Two Weeks That Changed The Denver Broncos

March 20 2012; Englewood, CO, USA; Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen (left) and quarterback Peyton Manning (center) and executive vice president of football operations John Elway during a press conference at Broncos headquarters. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE

Two weeks. Fourteen days. That's all it takes for the entire universe to turn upside down. The football universe that is. It was two weeks ago - Friday, March 9 - that Pat Bowlen's private plane left Stillwater, OK and traveled to Miami, Florida to pick up free agent quarterback Peyton Manning. While there were rumors of the mutual interest between Manning and the Broncos, that was the first tangible sign that it was true.

What ensued was a roller coaster of emotions from Broncos fans. For now, I'll avoid separation of groups - part of that universe upheaval - everyone was a 'Broncos fan' two weeks ago.

The Broncos were on again, off again favorites to land Manning while the incumbent starting quarterback sat quiet. Tim Tebow has already had a blessed life - more so than most of us - and have already done an amazing job off the field through his foundation and overall unselfishness with his personal time.

From a football standpoint, Tebow has also cemented his place in Denver Broncos lore. The 2011 season was one of the most memorable seasons in team history, and one I will never forget. I've been surprised by those that feel Tebow's departure somehow diminishes what that team was able to accomplish and the ride we were all able to enjoy.

It doesn't.

Don't forget 2011. Don't forget the winning streak with so many improbable victories. Don't forget the feeling we ALL had when Demaryius Thomas caught that pass and raced to the end zone, propelling the Broncos to their first playoff win in 6 years. Don't forget the man who caught it, don't forget the man who threw it.

For some reason, we find the need to argue and fight for one side or the other. Some fans resent Peyton Manning because they don't want to let go of the feeling they had less than 90 days ago as the Broncos beat the Steelers. Why? Don't let go of the feeling. Keep it, hold on to it, cherish it forever.

The Denver Broncos made a decision as an organization to take back the face of the franchise. That is their prerogative. We have seen quarterbacks replaced after winning a Super Bowl. Management teams like to bring in their own guys - it doesn't matter the business - especially if their way of doing things, or their roadmap of success differs from those currently in place - even if they are successful.

John Elway has a vision for how HE wants to run the Denver Broncos. He has a vision for what will work in the NFL and what won't. By 'work', I mean win Super Bowls. The team is admittedly ahead of schedule. The stars aligned in a lot of ways for the Broncos last season - be it 60-yard field goals, diving catches, or the will of the quarterback. To Elway, 2011's success and the way it happened just wasn't sustainable.

That doesn't mean we should forget it. Always remember.

Think of the best weekend you've ever had with the boys. Or the best ladies weekend. Hell, even a one-night stand. Maybe a weekend in Vegas. That's always a good time. The city that never sleeps. You can gamble and party 24/7. You're hanging out with your friends in a nightclub thinking, "I could live here. I could do this all the time!". Maybe you even start making plans - "Yeah, let's move to Vegas!!"

Then reality sets in. You come home. Real life - job, girlfriend, etc - gets in the way. You realize that, while Vegas was great and the memories incredible - that lifestyle simply isn't sustainable. While it was fun while it lasted, eventually it would burn you out. It doesn't mean that weekend wasn't any less memorable, or that you shouldn't cherish those memories.

That one night stand may have been incredible, but he/she wasn't a keeper. Not someone you could invest in long term. It doesn't mean you can't think about it fondly or act like it didn't happen.

2011 was incredible. It did happen. And we should all cherish everything that EVERY MAN on the 53-man roster accomplished, from Tim Tebow on down.

That doesn't mean, however, that the method of success the Broncos used was sustainable. It wasn't. Not longterm. That's my opinion - you may differ - but more importantly it was John Elway's opinion. To change the direction of the Broncos - and yes, sometimes you need a change of direction, even after winning a playoff game - Elway needed someone with a big-time resume. That is the only way to get out from under Tebow-Mania. To his credit, Elway accomplished his goal.

With Peyton Manning the Broncos have completely changed direction. No more games with 2 completed passes. No more games with 50 runs. It worked in 2011, but Elway didn't feel that was the blueprint to win a Super Bowl. Again, I agree. Is there risk involved? Absolutely. But the Broncos can now build their roster the way they want to build it. They can find a backup quarterback that is more in the Manning-mold, and build an offense around balance.

By bringing in Manning the Broncos had NO CHOICE but to trade Tebow. The distraction was just too big - the headache too great. Of no fault to Tebow, of course, not directly, but those fans. Even John Fox took notice in his statement after the Broncos traded Tebow to the Jets:

"For good reason, Tim has always had a great following. He handled that aspect exceptionally during the amazing run we had. The poise and focus Tim displayed were remarkable and speak volumes for the strength of his character."

Tim does have a great following, a lot of players have a following, but by even mentioning how Tim handled that following tells you it was a distraction to the team. Having to answer questions about it, dealing with national media all the time, the attention. Kinda like Terrell Owens. A constant circus-like atmosphere. Owens brought it on himself. Tebow, of course, did not. Or did he?

Tim is just who he is. It's not who he IS that is the problem, it's who he HAS. He has a marketing machine working to bolster his brand. A book deal and tour. A documentary. All before 25. Now word is, that the Tebow Camp picked New York over Jacksonville, which from a marketing standpoint makes perfect sense. I don't fault Tebow for any of that. But don't think Tebow and his team don't have an agenda. They do and they are a finely tuned machine.

I waited a bit to write this post because I was hoping that most of the Tebow-only crowd would be long gone. Maybe, maybe not. I can take the heat. As a voice - however big or small - for Broncos Country I feel a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. The Broncos are about football again. That doesn't mean, however, that I won't look back on 2011 with fond memories. I'll keep that Steelers playoff win on my DVR - right next to Super Bowls XXXII and XXXIII, the Jake Plummer win over the New England Patriots in 2005 and a Jay Cutler-led regular season win over the Cleveland Browns in 2007.

They are all part of Broncos history and all helped mold me as a Broncos fan. Nothing can take that away. But change is good and in this case necessary. Only YOU can decide how you will handle the change. By suggestion? Cherish the memories, wear your Tim Tebow jersey with pride, or frame it and hang it on the wall, and get back to doing what you, me and all of Broncos Country love - cheering our hearts out for the Denver Broncos.

My sincere appreciation to Tim Tebow for helping the Broncos out of the nightmare of deaths, arrests and scandal that plagued the team in the years that preceded you. I was honored to have you as a Bronco and to cheer for you. The game and business of football is actually beneath you. Perhaps you'll be President someday, or solve world hunger. This forum, however, is about football, and the Denver Broncos are a better football team without you - and the circus that follows - than with you. It hurts to say, but it's the truth.

Let's hope we can all move forward now with the knowledge that the Broncos - from Pat Bowlen on down - have one goal. To bring the Lombardi Trophy back to Denver. That is a position I think we ALL can get behind.

GO BRONCOS!

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