So, Peyton Manning and the Colts are parting company. We all knew it was coming, and the Colts won't be as much fun to watch while they're in rebuilding mode. The most interesting part to me is the what's-next-for-Manning question:
How will Manning's final chapter play out?
Maybe it will resemble Joe Montana's trek, following his exodus from San Francisco. After guiding the 49ers to four Super Bowl crowns during the 1980s, Montana was derailed by elbow problems. When he regained his health, his job was gone.
Montana went off to play for the Kansas City Chiefs for his final two seasons. He finished his career with dignity, able to prove that he had something left.
Manning undoubtedly hopes that his career swan song won't compare to that of Johnny Unitas, the Baltimore Colts legend whose career ended in 1973 at 40, with one broken, arm-shot season with the San Diego Chargers.
That uncertainty is the part of the situation that transcends sports. Every profession has stories about stars who stayed too long at the party and ended their careers on a lame note that tarnished the memory of the first part. If Manning truly wanted to protect his legacy, he'd just quit so he would be forever remembered as the man who built the Colt franchise. Heaven knows he doesn't have to worry about the money. But I understand the need to keep going with your passion as long as you can. Football players who truly love the game -- and Manning is one of those guys -- will always hang in there for one more season or one more game. The world in general could use more determination like that.