Meanwhile, Manning continues to maintain close ties with the team. He was on hand throughout the most well-attended Broncos training camp practice of all time on July 30, hanging out on the sidelines for hours in plain view of more than 7,000 fans. His presence served as both a reminder of glories past and a possible hint of the future.
And then there's the video put out by the team this summer, in which new quarterback Russell Wilson is seen serving as Manning's intern:
Appearances like these suggest that Manning is indeed planning to join the Walton Penner Group — and if that's the case, there are a number of good reasons why such an announcement hasn't yet been made.
For one, Manning adds plenty to the ownership group's glamour and legitimacy but nothing to diversity, the clear focus during recent months. Moreover, Manning is a good businessman, and he won't sign on unless the deal is sweet enough — and each ancillary project he launches only increases his value.
Examples abound. This past season's so-called Manningcasts — in which he and his younger brother, Super Bowl-winning ex-QB Eli Manning, delivered off-the-cuff narration to Monday Night Football broadcasts — became a popular and critical hit, spawning a slew of second-rate imitations and attracting loads of special guests. Among the latter was Rice, who rhapsodized about the sport: "I’ve loved football since I was a little girl. My dad was a football coach. When I was born, I was supposed to be his All-American linebacker; he got a girl. So he taught me about the sport. My fondest memories are of anything watching football with my dad."
Given all these opportunities, Manning is definitely in a position where he doesn't have to take a lowball offer — and given what's been characterized as his longtime interest in actually running a team as general manager someday, he may decide against taking any Broncos gig that doesn't give him decision-making power.
Nonetheless, fans clearly love the idea of a Manning role in the Broncos moving forward. Now it's up to the Walton Penner Group to make it happen.
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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.