As you get older you start realizing how much time you have wasted in your youth. This realization can easily make you feel depressed and anxious. Why didn’t I learn to play the guitar? Why didn’t I read all of those books? It’s a very difficult feeling to shake. You start making new goals and new promises to yourself. You imagine all you can accomplish if you just buckle down, starting today. You tell yourself there is still time.
Unfortunately sometimes it is too late. Sometimes your window of opportunity has closed. Sometimes you have no choice but to give up on a dream, a goal, or even a legacy.
Now apply this idea to sports. Sure, it’s not like these million dollar athletes have a lot of regret in their lives. They’ve already accomplished a lot because they had the foresight and discipline to get there. But take a moment to imagine how these ultra competitive athletes must feel as their careers wind down. Why didn’t I win that elusive championship? Why didn’t I become one of the greats? As soon as these questions start popping up it’s probably far too late for them to achieve their lost dreams.
Enter Peyton Manning. 5 time league MVP, surefire Hall of Famer, owner of nearly every QB record in the book. What else could this man want to accomplish? Does he have anything left to prove? In his mind, the answer is, unequivocally, yes. He needs another championship. And his window of opportunity is shutting.
It’s obvious that Manning feels pressure. The pressure is silly and unfounded. It comes from analysts, drunk sports fans and shitty bloggers. All of these people have convinced people that Manning shouldn’t be celebrated for his accomplishments but rather burned at the stake for his failures. “He doesn’t have enough playoff wins. He only beat Rex Grossman in the Super Bowl” are usual shots taken at the 39-year-old quarterback.
Because of this, ever since Peyton Manning’s time in Denver started, he has been pushing. He’s pushed his body to the limit. He’s pushed his team to the edge of greatness. He’s pushed to prove everyone wrong about his legacy.
And now here he is with nothing left to push. He is now at the stage in his career where he needs others to push, pull or drag him to the end. He needs his running game, he needs his defense, he needs all of his teammates, and he needs them to be great.
Come two weeks from Sunday and Manning’s career will have possibly ended in one of three ways. Either another loss to his arch nemesis, Tom Brady, in the AFC championship, or another Super Bowl loss in front of millions or, dare I even entertain the thought, him walking into the sunset with the Lombardi trophy on his back in place of that nagging monkey he’s carried around for years. No matter what happens in the end, let’s all be grateful he gets one more shot at glory.