Peyton Manning tight-lipped in his possible swan song from the NFL, but his waning performance gives away clues on his decision.
Was Super Bowl 50 the final time NFL fans have seen of Peyton Manning?
The 39-year-old Manning, a 19-year pro veteran, made a storybook turnaround of his NFL career with a 24-10 win over the Carolina Panthers at the Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California on Sunday night.
This latest victory came nine years after Peyton Manning first won with the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLI and five years after he underwent a spinal fusion surgery to solve his lingering neck and back troubles.
For the game, Peyton Manning threw 13-for-23 passes for 141 yards and an interception, while getting sacked five times by the Carolina Panthers defense in the win.
During broadcasts, on-air commentators Jim Nantz and Phil Simms repeatedly speculated that this was the “last rodeo” for Peyton Manning.
Most noticeably, Nantz noticed Manning’s mannerisms during media day that he was “smelling the roses” in anticipation of his exit, and that “[Manning] has made a decision” after winning the AFC Championship over longtime rival Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
However, Manning crushed those speculations on-air, saying that he has not decided on his future just yet.
“I’ll take some time to reflect,” Manning said during the winner’s podium interview after the game. “I’ll drink a lot of Budweiser tonight.”
“I got some good advice from Tony Dungy. He said, ‘Don’t make make an emotional decision (right after a game).'”
This season, Manning had the fourth worst rating of a Super Bowl winning starting quarterback since the game was first played in 1967, which may be a cause for him to consider calling it a day.
His 67.9 passer rating ranked behind an aging Baltimore Colts Johnny Unitas in 1970 (64.4), Green Bay Packers Bart Starr in 1967 (65.1), and Pittsburgh Steelers Terry Bradshaw in 1974 (55.2).