Last rodeo or not, Peyton assured spot in pantheon of greats

Fri Jan 29, 2016 2:29pm EST
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By Steve Keating

(Reuters) - Peyton Manning has said Super Bowl 50 could be his "last rodeo" and if the Denver Broncos quarterback rides off into the sunset holding the Vince Lombardi trophy the fairytale finish will not be an unfamiliar one.

The idea of Manning, who at 39 is set to become the oldest quarterback to start a Super Bowl, winning a title in what could be the last game of his career remains intact with the symmetry of his boss and former Denver quarterback John Elway.

Manning broke into the NFL in 1998 as the first overall pick of the Indianapolis Colts, the same season Elway, who for the moment is the oldest quarterback to play in a Super Bowl, penned the perfect ending to his Hall of Fame career by leading Denver to a second consecutive NFL championship.

Thousands of media members will descend on San Francisco seeking a definitive answer from Manning about his career plans but he will no doubt dance around his interrogators easier than he can expect to avoid the Carolina Panthers pass rush in the Feb. 7 Super Bowl.

Not even younger brother and two-time Super Bowl winner Eli Manning knows what Peyton's plans are but conceded signing off as a Super Bowl winner is not a bad way to end a career.

"When you get to year 19 and kind of deal with some injuries and things going on, it'd be a good way to go out," said Eli. "I don't know if it is, but because of that possibility, I hope that he can win this game and if he decides to hang it up, go out on top."

With five NFL Most Valuable Player awards, a Super Bowl win in which he was named the game's MVP and a slew of passing records, the elder Manning has ticked just about every box off his NFL to-do list.

But if Manning has anything left to prove in his Hall of Fame career, it is that he can win when it matters most.   Continued...

Jan 24, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) drops back to pass against the New England Patriots in the first quarter in the AFC Championship football game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports