Peyton Manning: John Elway must lead scoring drive to land QB for Broncos

Those early reports that Peyton Manning would decide on a new team by Tuesday proved to be as greatly exaggerated as our initial view that he'd join the Los Angeles Lakers before he'd ink with the Broncos. At this writing, Denver is thought to be among Manning's final four or last two picks as a landing spot. And if either of these suppositions is accurate, that means the challenge of putting the negotiations in the win column rests solely on a certain Number 7.

There's little doubt at this point that John Elway's personal relationship with Manning led him to make Denver the first place he visited on his search for a new home -- a journey that included only one other visit to a franchise HQ (Arizona's being the second). Their rapport makes perfect sense. After all, Elway is the only other player in this particular drama who's truly Manning's peer -- a Hall of Fame-level quarterback who led his squad to a Super Bowl title.

He's lost Super Bowls, too, and that's something else to which Manning can relate.

If the struggle to land Manning is still a four-horse race, the Broncos have a definite climte deficit in comparison with possible hopefuls 'Zona and Miami. While Denver is hardly the ice planet of Hoth -- a misperception exploded by weather of the sort we're experiencing this week -- it's still colder than both those locales during the winter months, and that's important given Peyton's recent injury history. As the Denver Post's Mike Klis points out, no less a personage than Elway retired due largely to bad knees that got worse as the mercury dropped.

Then again, this factor may not be as important to Manning as some observers might think -- especially given reports that the Dolphins and Cardinals have been sidelined and the Tennessee Titans are now the Broncos' only other rival. The weather there is different than Denver's, but it can be equally unpleasant.

Of course, Manning has something of a sentimental attachment to the area, having played his college ball at the University of Tennessee. And Titans owner Bud Adams has very publicly lobbied for his services in ways that his Denver counterpart, Pat Bowlen, hasn't, for reasons that likely have to do with his much rumored memory loss and health issues.

Then again, Elway knows a little something about overcoming the odds, and you can bet he's got a contingency plan for any development. Whether he'll be successful at implementing it isn't known yet, but the outcome of the Manning drama will go a long way toward revealing whether he'll be able to translate his prowess on the field to the front office over the long term.

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More from our Sports archive: "Peyton Manning: Does Denver have best odds of landing him according to Vegas?"

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