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Wherefore Art Thou,

Peyton Manning?

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Peyton Manning is being courted as if he is the reincarnated Romeo. Images by chbradshaw and Cpl. Michelle M. Dickson and used under the terms of Creative Commons Licenses.
As The Football World Awaits The Decision Of The Four-Time MVP, Cities, Organizations Gush Like Love-Sick Teenagers

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By Bob Goodwood
Modern Times Magazine

March 13, 2012 — O Peyton, O Peyton, Wherefore art thou, Peyton?

Or more directly, wherefore art thou heart, Peyton?

The NFL is at the beck and call of the four-time MVP, and he is being courted in some epic love-story that will consume one of the contenders for the fair heart of Peyton Manning. He  is akin to Shakespeare’s Romeo to the contending team’s version of Juliet, performing the play at team venues across the country.

Each and every one of the “Juliets” are as seemingly enamored with their former rival who they no longer see as being able to live without. Fans of all of the front-running franchises — Denver Broncos, Miami Dolphins, Arizona Cardinals, Tennessee Titans and maybe others — struggle to sufficiently guffaw over the potential signing of the former Super Bowl champion.

One can almost see them quoting the great bard as they ended each of the “interview” sessions with Manning.

“Good Night, Good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say good night till it be morrow,” William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, 2.2

It is just so darn sweet.

No one can blame these teams from going after a sure-fire Hall of Famer. Quarterbacks of Peyton Manning’s stature usually don’t go to other teams while they can purportedly still play (we’ll get to that in a minute.) National consensus puts the Manning free-agent love-fest as only comparable to the Joe Montana exodus to Kansas City in 1993. That’s nearly 20 years.

Montana was able to make good on his promise to make whichever team that signed him an instant contender. At 37-years-old, he led the Chiefs to a 13-3 record and a trip to the AFC CHampionship game when he worked some serious magic in the playoffs.

The city of Kansas City absolutely LOVED Joe Montana. The keystone of the Chiefs franchise, the legendary Len Dawson, even granted Montana permission to use his retired No. 16, the number Montana had used in his years on the 49ers. Dawson was a legend, but fans then and now might love Montana more in Kansas City.

“Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight!/ For I ne'er saw true beauty till this night,” William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, 1.5.

Arizona Cardinals fans might just feel the same way about Manning if he ever dons the red and white. Kurt Warner might be loved in Arizona, but Manning will steal their hearts if he can return the team to a few years’ worth of realistic playoff expectations.

But like all great love stories, this one is bound to have tragedy. Perhaps the greatest of which will be that even if Manning is able to come all the way back physically from his neck issues, he is destined to be a short-term shot at glory. Even so, which organization and its fans would think twice about the possible short term nature of signing Manning if he brings them a Super Bowl trophy to remember him by?

But the doubts are evident and they are real. Like Joe Montana before him, time is catching up with Peyton Manning. Montana missed almost two full years with elbow issues before he went to the Chiefs with naysayers in every alley. Those same folks are saying the same things about Peyton Manning. Montana did deliver in his two years there, but he had signed up for three.

Manning, on the other hand, has degeneration to his cervical spine. His brother Cooper stopped playing football because of his spine problems. No one has mentioned that Peyton’s condition is in any way relatable to Cooper’s but the circumstantial stuff is there.

The bottom line is that the team that gets him might be the team that watches him throw with a numb arm or one that sees him take a big hit and get wheeled off the field.

“These violent delights have violent ends, And in their triumph die, like fire and powder, Which as they kiss consume," William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, 2.3

Regardless, going after Peyton Manning is worth the courting. If he chooses a franchise and gets hurt, the team at the very least gets a feather in their cap when it comes to wooing future free agents. The coaxing would go something like, “if Peyton Manning chose us why can’t you?”

The NFL is a quarterback’s league. When a team has a consistently outstanding performer at signal caller, they are 80 percent of the way to the playoffs — just ask the 2010 Arizona Cardinals.

When healthy, Peyton Manning is one of those quarterbacks.

But there will undoubtedly be some hurt organizations and fans whenever it is that Peyton “Romeo” Manning decides where he will play football next season.

But until that time, the nation will remain enthralled in a courting ritual not seen in nearly two decades.

O! (he) doth teach the torches to burn bright," William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, 1.5

Bob Goodwood lives in Scottsdale, Ariz. Reach him directly at bob.goodwood@yahoo.com.
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