On Tuesday afternoon in Denver, not long after reports emerged of Manning's new contract, the Broncos introduced their new quarterback, Peyton Manning. It was an odd sight and it'll take a while to get used to it, but it is now -- officially -- reality.
Prior to John Elway, John Fox and Manning addressed the crowd, Broncos staff members displayed No. 18 jerseys with Manning's name on them for the throngs of media members in attendance.
"This is sort of a historic meeting today," Broncos owner Pat Bowlen said. "We're very fortunate to have two Hall-of-Fame quarterbacks in this room today. Peyton is one of the best ever to play this game and I feel very fortunate to have him here. Our goal is to win Super Bowls and Peyton gives us a chance to win another championship."
Bowlen then turned it over to a beaming John Elway.
"My goal is to make Peyton Manning the best quarterback to ever play the game," Elway said. "And he's got that ability with the football that he's got left. We didn't try to sell him hard. We wanted him to feel comfortable here as a place to come and work.
"I believe he's got a lot of good football left in him."
Manning then took the stage with, once again, prepared remarks. He thanked all the teams that gave him time during his free agency but said that Denver was "just a great fit."
|Peyton Lands in Denver|
"I can tell this organization is committed to winning," Manning said. "This truly is a special football environment and I'm glad to be part of it."
How did Manning end up picking the Broncos? He said he was "very comfortable" in Denver, but that there "wasn't one deciding factor" between the various teams.
"There really wasn't one deciding factor," Manning said. "You have options and you really believe you can make any of them work. I've always believed that it's up to me and the people here around me to make this the right decision. It'll be speculated on and debated on for months to come about whether it was the right decision. I'm going to go out and try to make it the right decision."
Manning's one of the rare cases of a historically great player switching teams at a late -- but still valuable -- part of his career. And he admitted Tuesday that it won't be easy making the move.
"It's certainly very different, there's no question about that," Manning said. "And this is going to take me some time to get comfortable with. This is all new to me. I've told John and Coach Fox I'm going to need their help to get me through this process and through this transition."
It's believed that Manning's transition will also be made easier by the addition of several of his former teammates. But asked about that, Manning made it clear (or at least to the public anyway) that he won't be pulling any personnel or playcalling strings.
"I am not going to be the offensive coordinator," Manning said. "I am not going to be involved in personnel decision. Not in the least bit."
A few minutes into the presser, Manning was asked about the biggest potential roster change of all: Tim Tebow. Manning raised his voice a little bit, making it clear that he didn't want to hear a thousand questions about Tebow's future, but that he'd play with Tebow no matter what.
"I know what kind of player Tim Tebow is and what kind of person he is," Manning said. "And if Tim Tebow is here next year, I'll be the best teammate I can be to him."
Of course, no question is as important as Manning's health. And one daring reporter even asked Manning if he could take the field this Sunday.
"Could I play a game this Sunday?" Manning responded. "Yeah, I could. I don't know if I'd play well as I'd like, but yeah, I could play this Sunday."
Manning took a number of different questions about his free-agent process, his health, whether he wants to retire as a Denver Bronco ("Yes."), and myriad other things. He handled the presser exactly the way you'd expect Peyton Manning to handle: with the pinnacle of professionalism.
And it's hard to blame the Broncos for getting themselves involved with Manning. He gives them the best chance to win, and he has no intentions of doing anything else.
"I realize I don't have 14 years left ... This is a 'now' situation."