When the Indianapolis Colts and Peyton Manning came to the decision to part ways, everyone knew Manning would be playing somewhere other than Indianapolis this season for the first time in his 14-year career.
But, how many of those people thought that place would be Nashville, Tennessee?
I’ll go out on a limb and say not many.
Last week, we were given names of teams that had interest in Manning. Of course, teams like Denver, Arizona, Seattle and Kansas City, teams that desperately need help at the quarterback position, were thought to be the most likely landing spot for Manning.
However, over the last couple days, a new front-runner has emerged in the Manning sweepstakes: The Tennessee Titans.
Tennessee may not be the sexy choice for Manning, but the choosing the Titans makes sense for several reasons.
To begin, It’s home. Yes, I’m aware that Peyton is originally from Louisiana. I don’t necessarily mean “home” in the literal sense. The state of Tennessee loves Peyton Manning, especially East and Middle Tennessee. The Indianapolis Colts have developed a tremendous following in Knoxville over the last 10 or so years. Coincidence?
I doubt it.
I guess what I’m saying here in a round-about way is that Manning is Tennessee’s favorite son. Any other quarterback that started all four years at Tennessee and never beat Florida would likely be met with at least some animosity. But not Peyton.
So, If Peyton decided on the Titans, he’d be welcomed with open-arms. Big deal, you say, he’d be welcomed anywhere. This is true. But, Tennessee also provides him with an opportunity that no other viable location does.
The chance to play the Colts twice each season.
Those who know Peyton, and even those who don’t know him so well, are aware of Peyton’s competitive nature. If you think the opportunity to spank the Colts twice a year won’t factor into his decision, I’d say you’re being naive.
Couple the ideal location for a return with the complement of weapons Tennessee provides for Manning’s usage, and you have the perfect situation. Chris Johnson gives Manning the great running back he’s never had. As for his receiving corps, I’ve seen Manning do more with less than Kenny Britt, Nate Washington, Damian Williams and Jared Cook. Britt is the only Pro-Bowl caliber player on that list, but Manning does this thing where he makes all the people around him look really good.
Most importantly, the Titans boast one of the best offensive lines in football. They allowed the second-fewest sacks and hits on the quarterback in 2011. The line is anchored by three-time all-pro Michael Roos at left tackle, who sounds like the perfect guy to watch Manning’s blind side.
So, start with a great location, add an ultra-competitive guy looking to prove everybody wrong and supplement that with a solid supporting cast and what do you get?
Bud Adams is hoping the answer to that question is a Super Bowl. Adams did say he’s willing to pay anything to have Peyton in Tennessee.
Well, Mr. Adams, time to put your money where your mouth is and bring Peyton home.