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Horse Tracks: Peyton Manning calls it a career

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A man who was once a thorn in the side of the Denver Broncos is now one of the greatest players to have ever worn orange and blue. Make no mistake, Peyton Manning is one of the best to ever lace them up and Broncos Country is blessed to call him one of our own.

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

I'll happily admit it.

When Peyton was a free agent and flirted with signing with Denver in 2012, I was skeptical. Let's be honest, Peyton kicked the Broncos butts up and down the field just about every time the Colts and Broncos squared off and those memories may have clouded my judgement.

It seemed like it was taking forever.

With all the reports of Manning's dinner with Elway, Brandon Stokely's involvement, Todd Helton's private recommendations, the helicopter newscasts documenting Peyton's visit with the Broncos, it was all a little much. The offseason courtship between Manning and the Broncos went on so long that the most impatient of us took to social media and predicted that  Manning would sign elsewhere. Yes, even I may have tweeted that the Broncos should pull their offer to Peyton because it was taking too long for him to make his decision. Thankfully, I'm a fan and not in the front office.

Then there was the issue of what number Peyton would wear.

One of the things that makes the Broncos so great is their history and how they revere it. When it was announced that Manning would wear Frank Tripucka's retired #18, I was annoyed. How could the Broncos possibly un-retire a number for this guy? I mean, come on, one of our greats has to take a backseat some fly-by-night Colt? I wrote this article for MHR in response.

Retiring a number means that it's off limits... Forever. It shouldn't matter who the player is that taking it. Just because Peyton Manning is going to be the one to wear it, there is no justification to renege on the honor Howsam bestowed on Tripucka. Doing so changes things. Last year during the lockout, MHR ran the "Greatest Bronco to Wear Series..." wherein Frank Tripucka was deemed the greatest Bronco to wear #18. Now, that designation could be in doubt. Because it's Peyton Manning, there are many who would now say that the greatest Bronco to wear #18 is now Manning... and he has yet to take a single snap.

It was my premise that the 2012 Broncos were besmirching the wishes of the first Broncos owner, Bob Howsam, by not respecting his wish that #18 be retired in honor of Frank Tripucka. Granted, Tripucka gave his blessing on Peyton wearing the number, but to me that was irrelevant.

...I say it's not Tripucka's decision whether or not the #18 could ever be worn again. Frankly, it was a decision made by Bob Howsam and the Denver Broncos organization and here less than fifty years later it should have been the organization's responsibility to respect that sentiment. In letting Manning take #18, the Broncos are disregarding the wishes of the founding leadership as well as setting a nasty precedent for future generations that desire to reinstate long retired numbers.

Needless to say, I was wrong.

Were it not for the play of Frank Tripucka (not to mention Austin "Goose" Gonsulin, and Lionel Taylor), there might not have been sufficient fan interest to keep the Broncos going. Bob Howsam understood how important Tripucka's contributions to the Broncos were and rewarded him with the highest individual honor that existed at the time for a player (the Pro Football Hall of Fame was little more than a construction project in 1963).

Manning embodied the spirit of #18. Peyton reinvigorated a franchise that had floundered with mediocre quarterback play since John Elway had retired. Howsam could never have imagined what Manning would do with the Broncos. Two AFC Championships, an MVP, countless records and a Super Bowl win? When it comes to those kind of accomplishments, the number worn doesn't seem like as big a deal as it did in 2012.

It's kind of cool that now and forever, when people look up Denver Broncos history, there will be only two people to have worn #18. Both were special men for different reasons, but both are deserving of the honor of #18 being off-limits to future players. How great is it that the Broncos #18 could very likely be the only number in the NFL that will have been retired twice? Check out Ian St. Clair's article from Sunday that makes the case that #18 should be re-retired.

Sorry it took me awhile to come around, Peyton. Thanks for one hell of a ride.

HORSE TRACKS

One of the greatest quarterbacks of all time is retiring.

Peyton Manning to announce retirement Monday | ESPN

Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning to retire - NFL.com

Peyton Manning to retire after Super Bowl finish to 18-year NFL career

The NFL reacted accordingly.

WATCH: Brandon Stokley could see Peyton Manning in a front office job soon | Mile High Sports

Irsay says Manning "revolutionized" football | ProFootballTalk

Manning's Broncos teammates reflect on his retirement | Denver Broncos

Former Broncos TE Dreessen talks Manning legacy | Denver Broncos

James Palmer on Manning's Legacy | Denver Broncos

What they are saying about Peyton Manning | Denver Broncos

Now that the end is here, there are plenty of great looks back on his career.

Peyton Manning proves one more time why he's the classiest to ever do it | Mile High Sports

Peyton Manning: A career by the numbers | Denver Broncos

Broncos got what they expected from Peyton Manning -- a title - Denver Broncos Blog- ESPN

In a career of perfect timing, once more, Peyton Manning got the timing right | Denver Broncos

Video: Thank you, Peyton | Denver Broncos

Aside from the Manning news, Sunday also generated some Restricted Free Agent news.

Report: Broncos will place tender on LB Brandon Marshall | 247 Sports

Recently released Falcon's receiver Roddy White was no fan of Kyle Shanahan. Roddy White: Kyle Shanahan cost Falcons two wins - NFL.com

The Dolphins were busy on Sunday. Dolphins cut Greg Jennings, restructure Suh, Misi deals - NFL.com

...as were the police when they arrested Rams running back Tre Mason. Tre Mason arrested for multiple traffic and drug violations - NFL.com