Let me state it plainly, so there can be no misunderstanding. I am not a Tebow fan. Yes, I did support him while he was here, and yes I did want to keep him. But while I do wish him luck, now that he is no longer a Bronco I am no longer his fan. The reason for this is that I root for the name on the front of the jersey, not the name on the back.
A large number of threads on MHR lately have devolved into little more than pissing matches between believers in Manning and those who doubt him. I am not blameless in this. My own feelings on Manning are well-known to anyone who frequented this site during the offseason and to my regret I have allowed myself to be drawn into pointless debate about Manning and Tebow. I think that most of the people with whom I have engaged in these debates are under the mistaken belief that I am a Tebow fan first and foremost. This post is to put that notion to rest once and for all.
Many NFL players change teams as often as I upgrade my cell phone, and the vast majority of players who spend more than a year or two in the league will play for more than one team. The days when even the great players finished their careers where they started them are over. Therefore, I see no point in maintaining loyalty to any one specific player. I was a Bronco fan long before Tebow ever stepped on a football field and I remain so now that he is gone.
This brings me to Peyton Manning. No one can deny what Manning has accomplished in his career. He is an all-time great and certainly one of the top-2 QBs of his generation. This does not mean however, that we or the Broncos should expect him to repeat that success in Denver. The fact of the matter is, Manning is 36 years old, well past his physical prime, trying to learn a new offense with players he is unfamiliar with at an age when most football players are in steady decline. We are trying to recapture magic a great player had at a different stage in his career while at the same time trying to make it back from a catastrophic injury that robbed him of an entire season. We have been down this road before, trying to retread formerly dominant players, most notably with Tony Dorsett and Jerry Rice. And we have seen it with other teams countless times. Why should we expect Manning to succeed where so many of his fellow greats have failed? What says he will do better than Montana (whose resume is hands down better in the most important stat of all: Super Bowls), Unitas, Favre or Namath?
Peyton Manning is NFL royalty and a historical great. This is a fact. And that fact will do absolutely nothing to win football games today. Manning is attempting to do something that has never been successfully done by a starting QB in NFL history... win a championship with a second team. There are reasons this has never been done, and all of them are legitimate concerns with regards to Manning: new team, unfamiliar players, age and the fact that by the act of letting that player go, the former team shows they feel his window is closing, if not already closed.
Just like with Tebow before him, Manning has brought a staggering number of his personal fans to the Broncos fold. I have been told by these fans that my criticism and skepticism of Manning means I am not a real fan, that I must be a Tebowmaniac and I should follow him to New York. Well the fact is, I am not a fan of Peyton Manning. I will root for him to succeed because he wears a Broncos jersey and I am a Broncos fan. But the same as with Tebow before him, the name on the back of the jersey means nothing to me. The performance of the player wearing my team's jersey, regardless of what his name is, is the only thing that matters. Until Manning's performance in Denver matches the hype and the expectations I will continue to doubt.