An Open Letter to Peyton Manning: Retire and Go Out a Champion

Dear Peyton,

Congratulations on your second Super Bowl victory, and for becoming the first quarterback in National Football League history to win the contest with two different teams.

Your legacy as one of the greatest signal callers to ever play pro ball was secure whether you'd tasted triumph or defeat yesterday. But the results do more than solidify your stature. They guarantee that you'll be worshiped as an NFL god for as long as the game is played.

Now, there's only one more thing to do in your on-the-field career.

Bid it farewell.

John Elway, the man who brought you to Denver, did just that. After being shit-hammered in three Super Bowls for the Broncos, he won two in a row and then hung up his spurs. And while his decision broke hearts in the Mile High City, it' was the right move, and it only looks better with time.

After all, the last memory fans have of Number 7 is one of him as a champion, rather than as a beaten and battered warrior trudging off the gridiron following one last loss.

The opportunity to follow in his footsteps is within your grasp.

You've already hinted about it, telling New England coach Bill Belichick that "this might be my last rodeo" after the Broncos bested the Patriots in the bout that earned Denver another trip to the Super Bowl.

Moreover, you understand, as well as anyone, that your physical skills have deteriorated.

You were hurt much of the season, and even after returning to the helm, you haven't looked like the Peyton of old.

No, you've looked like old Peyton.

That was true even last night, when you passed for a mere 141 yards. Indeed, the team's 194 yards in offense was the lowest total ever for a team that won the Super Bowl.

You're under no illusions about who was responsible for the W. In post-game interviews, you praised the defense over and over and over again, and deservedly so.

Yes, we've heard reports that the Rams would consider bringing you to Los Angeles next season as a marquee name — the perfect way of re-introducing the franchise to the L.A. market.

But the Rams are going nowhere. If you play with the squad, you're unlikely to even make the playoffs.

If you retire, though, you can do absolutely anything — including making even more money as a product hype man.

You're already the best in the business at that. Just ask Papa John, who you embraced last night even before you got a chance to share the victory with your family.

And then there's your mentions about celebrating the win by drinking a lot of Budweiser.

As a Budweiser exec tweeted after the game, current NFL players can't endorse an alcoholic brand.

But a former NFL player sure as hell can. And although you're already making an estimated $12 million per annum pitching products such as pizza and Gatorade (you were seen drinking some of that in the locker room before the game, you sly dog), those twins of yours are going to need lots of new shoes over the years.

So please,please, please, don't take one last victory lap. The victory is already yours.

We're thrilled you came to Denver. We're overjoyed that you contributed to bringing the Lombardi Trophy back to Colorado for the first time in nearly two decades. And we'll miss you when you go.

But the timing is right to ride off into the sunset.

Atop a Bronco.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts