Mar 192012
 
Authors: Allison Sylte

Maybe it says something that on Monday, Peyton Manning wasn’t the Broncos quarterback who was trending on Twitter.

Instead, it was the Broncos’ polarizing, bible-thumping, at times frustrating and soon-to-be former quarterback Tim Tebow.

And while anyone who has ever witnessed his insane windmill of a throwing arm knows that he’s hardly comparable in sheer talent to certified badass Peyton Manning, it’s sad to see the Broncos throw away a verified (and unlikely) superstar for the sake of a player nearing the twilight of his career.

Granted, most people think seeing Manning in blue and orange is a fantastic idea.

Chad Finn, a sportswriter for the Boston Globe, said in a column Monday that this move ought to make the Broncos’ own John Elway the frontrunner for “Executive of the Year.”

“By signing Manning, one of the greatest quarterbacks in league history, he [Elway] has managed to find the only way he could displace and even trade the wildly popular Tim Tebow without enduring significant backlash,” Finn said.

Woody Paige and Mark Kizla, two prominent sports columnists for the Denver Post, were both wildly in favor of Peyton Manning joining the Broncos next season, with Kizla in particular claiming that now “the Broncos are again more about football than circus.”

Even my Facebook friends were, for the most part, ecstatic about Manning coming to Denver.

“Hell yeah. Finally a real quarterback!” one wrote.

It’s true that Peyton Manning is the far superior player. And it’s true that however long Manning stays in a Broncos uniform, Denver’s beloved team will perpetually be in the Super Bowl conversation.

That’s definitely one huge part of the bottom line. The Broncos are going to be a better team next year because they don’t have to deal with Tebow and his inconsistent throwing arm.

But if you think for one second that Denver sports fans are going to be swept up in a fervor of Broncomania that is even remotely equivalent to what happened last year at the height of Tebowmania, you’re solely mistaken.

After all, when Peyton Manning is the subject of NFL Hall of Fame speeches a few years down the road, it won’t be pictures of him in a Broncos uniform that dominate the presentation. He’ll be forever identified with the Indianapolis Colts, the team that carried him to greatness and allowed him to flourish.

His tenure with the Denver Broncos, no matter how many Super Bowls he wins, will be simply a footnote.

And while fans may be excited that he’ll temporarily bring some of that greatness to Denver, they also know that Manning isn’t really their guy. He’ll never become synonymous with Denver the way John Elway has.

And that’s why bringing Manning to our beautiful state might be great for a little while, but it’s nevertheless just a temporary solution to a far bigger problem.

And that problem is finding a player who did for Denver what John Elway did. Heck, it’s finding someone to capture Denver’s imagination the way Manning did Indianapolis’.

Think about another great player who made a late-career team switch. Former Packers quarterback Brett Favre was never really able to ignite the spark and enthusiasm from fans in New York and Minnesota that he was able to do in Green Bay.

While both the Jets and the Vikings found modest success with the future Hall-of-Famer, they’re both struggling now that Favre is officially retired, having wasted seasons with a player who would forever be identified with Green Bay instead of finding their own identity as a team.

Which brings me back to Tim Tebow. Say what you want about his dubious football talent (although statistics show that he’s on track with certifiably great quarterbacks during their second years), but he’s someone whom fans have watched grow up.

For one season, no matter how polarizing and downright frustrating he was, it was hard to think of him without thinking about the Denver Broncos.

For one season, Tim Tebow was an icon. For one season, Tim Tebow was Denver, Colorado.

And now, Denver is simply trying to become Indianapolis. It might win Denver a Super Bowl and give us an exciting next couple of years, but when Peyton Manning finally retires, the Broncos will be left searching for some sort of spark.

Tim Tebow had a spark. But now that the Broncos have shown how little they care, I don’t think he’ll be quite as forgiving as the Bible tells him to be.

Content Managing Editor Allison Sylte is a junior journalism major. Her column appears Tuesdays in the Collegian. She can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @AllisonSylte.

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