Media

Woody Paige's Peyton Manning Retirement Story: Scoop or Screw-up?

Denver Post and ESPN personality Woody Paige made a big splash when he wrote that Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, who led Denver to victory (with a lot of help from a tremendous defense) in Super Bowl 50, would announce his much-anticipated retirement by the end of this week.

A helluva scoop?

Well, the Broncos quickly poured cold water on Paige's piece, and the Post reportedly tweaked the language in the column as a result. However, the paper never retracted the basic contention that Peyton would bid the NFL farewell within the time frame Woody predicted — and at this writing, the text is back to the way it was in the beginning.

Pretty much everyone in the world wants Manning, who's nicknamed the Sheriff, to hang up his spurs — and not only because of allegations regarding supposed human growth hormone use (which he strongly denies) and an incident with a trainer at the University of Tennessee in 1996 that's received new publicity due to its mention in a federal lawsuit about the school's culture, which allegedly "enables sexual assault by athletes."

In our open letter to Peyton Manning, published earlier this month, we wrote:
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.
The Paige column, headlined "Peyton Manning Will Ride Off Into the Sunset," featured this line:  “According to two sources, Manning will acknowledge his decision by the end of this week.”

Shortly after its publication, though, Broncos PR man Patrick Smyth took to Twitter to share this:


In the wake of Smyth's tweet, Pro Football Talk maintained that the language in the Paige piece had been altered to read, “I’m told Manning will acknowledge his decision by the end of this week" — and the Washington Post did likewise.

Moreover, the NFL Network's James Palmer echoed Smyth's tweet with one of his own:

But if the Denver Post balked in the beginning, it's backing Paige once more.

Visit the column now and both the sub-headline and a line in the text read, "According to two sources, Manning will acknowledge his retirement decision by the end of this week."

What's all of this mean?

Different things to different people, judging by the more than 250 comments on the column.

But our favorite may be this one: "I had a pretty strong opinion that Peyton would be retiring soon. Now that Woody has put his stamp on it, I'm not so sure :-)"

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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