The No. 18 was the first number to get retired in Denver Broncos' history.
It should be the last.
With Peyton Manning making official his retirement from the NFL today, it's the proper way to honor not only what he meant to the Broncos but the man who first wore the number, original quarterback Frank Tripucka.
For those who will throw out the Terrell Davis argument as a reason against this move, just remember, the No. 18 already is retired. Denver would just re-retire the number to include Manning. When Manning signed in Denver, Tripucka said it meant a lot to him Manning wanted to wear the number and had no problem with it.
After the Broncos re-retire the number, the next step is to put Manning in the Broncos' Ring of Fame. Why not do both when Denver plays the Indianapolis Colts at home this season?
Next stop for Peyton Manning: Ring of Fame & @profootballhof. No. 18, loaned by the Tripucka family, will not be worn by a Bronco again.— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) March 6, 2016
These accomplishments alone are reason enough:
- Two Super Bowl appearances
- One Super Bowl win
- Four-straight AFC West titles
- One MVP
- 19,062 yards
- 151 TDs
- 50-15 record
There are quarterbacks who would crave similar numbers for their career, yet Manning put them up in four seasons, after four neck surgeries when most doubted he would ever play again.
Manning could not throw the ball 5 feet as he started to rehab, making what he's accomplished in Denver even more incredible. He's the second best quarterback in Broncos' franchise history behind John Elway.
If the statistics weren't reason enough to re-retire the No. 18, one could argue that Manning was even better in Denver than in Indianapolis. Again, after most thought he was finished.
There have been some who have said in defense of Manning getting honored by the Broncos, "He's a Colt. He'll always be a Colt."
Why does it have to be one or the other? The Pro Football Hall of Fame doesn't do that, so why should the Broncos or fans? Unlike Major League Baseball, inductees to the Pro Football Hall of Fame don't wear a helmet of a specific franchise. The bust has no cap or helmet, and the player's plaque lists the teams the inductee played for, along with his accomplishments.
Denver paying homage to one of the greatest players in franchise history would take nothing away from what Manning did in Indy. When you write his script in the NFL, you can't just leave out the four magical seasons he played in the Mile High City. Where he started his career has no bearing on what he did here, and vice versa.
Tripucka didn't start his career in Denver either. Like Manning, he finished with the Broncos. Four seasons, in fact. That shows even more why this needs to happen.
Let's look at this from a different angle.
Perhaps the best comparison is running back Marcus Allen.
Talk about a guy who was known as a member of a franchise but was the complete antithesis of how people viewed it. Allen was the face of the Raiders. Al Davis being Al Davis, Allen and the franchise had a nasty divorce.
Unlike Manning, everyone knew Allen still had a lot left. He ended up with the Kansas City Chiefs. Talk about a bizarre sight. Allen in Kansas City red?
Like Manning, Allen didn't miss a beat. He was just as good in Kansas City as he was with the Raiders. The Chiefs didn't win a Super Bowl but they did win a playoff game, and in large part because of Allen. Hey, for Kansas City, winning a playoff game is just as good.
Up until the last few seasons, the Chiefs still "protected" Allen's No. 32. They did the same for No. 19. Neither Joe Montana nor Allen had the impact or success in KC that Manning had in Denver.
Only three numbers in Broncos' history have been retired.
Floyd Little's No. 44
John Elway's No. 7
No. 18 - Now it needs to be Tripucka's and Manning's No. 18, and it should be done this season. The typical thought goes that Manning should get inducted into the Ring of Fame in five years since that is the waiting period, and only one time has that been waived - in 1999 for Elway.
The committee needs to waive it again this season given the uniqueness of the whole situation and who Denver plays in 2016.
That allows the Broncos to honor, again, what Tripucka meant as the first quarterback in franchise history. As it was done 50 years ago.
That also allows them to honor Manning for the unforgettable four seasons that were capped with the organization's third Lombardi Trophy. For taking Denver to a place only one other quarterback has.
Pat Bowlen has made it clear that one must meet the same level as Elway to get a number retired. That shows how special the feat is, and just how difficult it will be to make it happen. Since this isn't a new number, just re-retire the No. 18.
The best time to do both is when the Broncos host Indy this season.
Let's give Manning one final chance to pull off the impossible.