How many times have you heard that one of your favorite and most successful television shows will be back for its last season? For example, Carnival Films and Masterpiece on PBS has announced that season six of Downton Abbey, seen by 25.5 million viewers, will be the final season of the hit drama. The producers felt it right and perfect to end the show while it was still enjoyed so much by its fans and one of the most-watched drama series in PBS history.
And so, it is the same for some of the great players in the NFL -- go out while you’re on top! Go out while the fans are still cheering you on! And while we all understand it, there are mixed feelings, and it is still both a sad day and a great day in the sports world this week.
One of the greatest football players to ever step out on the field has announced that it is time to hang up the cleats. The winning-est quarterback in NFL history, Peyton Manning, the oldest quarterback to win a Super Bowl at age 40, has announced that he is retiring.
With that retirement remains a long legacy. Manning became the only man to take two different teams to two Super Bowls each, winning one and losing one. He knew how to read the opposition like nobody else. And yes, if he had lost this last game, his Super Bowl record would have been 1 - 3, but because he didn’t lose this one, he joins Bart Starr, Roger Staubach, John Elway, his brother Eli and others, with two Super Bowl victories.
Going out on top gives you the privilege to leave when you want to leave, and for someone who absolutely loves what they do, it can be extremely hard to do. We have seen a similar situation with Brett Favre when he originally retired, but he just couldn't officially say no right away. There have been plenty of players who flirted with announcing their retirement, but then decided it wasn’t what they really wanted to do.
While I am sad and upset that one of the all-time greats is walking away from the game of professional football, I am also thrilled for him, because he gets to go out on top. As an athlete, or any profession for that matter, there is no greater feeling that going out on top -- on your own terms -- rather than staying around too long and then eventually sustaining an injury that affects your health the rest of your life, or getting forced out by management, because you are no longer producing like you used to.
Peyton Manning is much more than just one of the best football players to ever play the game. While entertaining millions on Sunday on the football field, he is also a phenomenal human being and family man who has made a difference in the lives of so many others. Whether it's his charitable work, visiting children's hospitals, going out of his way to help a rookie or simply being involved and active in the community, he always displays what type of man he is.
Sure, I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that there are speculations regarding the sexual assault incident that happened when he was at the University of Tennessee. I will be the first one to admit that college students can be irresponsible, immature and led by their peers to do idiotic things, and while it doesn’t excuse their actions, it also doesn’t necessarily define who a person is. Everyone does stupid things at that age.
The making of a man is what he does after an error in judgment and behavior. People are flawed beings, and it shouldn’t be shocking when their human imperfections are revealed. What’s important is how you live your life. That’s the real indication of a person’s character, and when I look at Peyton’s long career, what I see is nothing but a fine character, and one that is humane with charitable acts and lifelong accomplishments. Peyton Manning grew into a great man both on and off the football field.
So, with this retirement, fresh off of a Super Bowl win, Peyton is the true definition of riding off into the sunset, happy and fulfilled. Peyton has enjoyed a remarkable Hall of Fame career that will forever leave a mark in the sports world.
If you ask me, he made a great decision hanging up the cleats.