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VOL. 40 | NO. 3 | Friday, January 15, 2016

Peyton’s post-career place? So many options

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At the age of 39 and after 18 seasons in the NFL, Peyton Manning is approaching a crossroads. What does the future hold for him? Here are the most likely possibilities:

Continue playing: Despite growing injury concerns (a torn plantar fascia in his left foot kept him out of six games this season), Manning might want to play at least one more season. He is on a team that has a strong defense so he no longer has to put up huge offensive numbers in order to win, unlike the situation during most of his pro career.

On top of that, Manning is incredibly driven and competitive. There is no other setting where he will face the kinds of daily challenges that he confronts in the NFL. Like most great athletes, he will have trouble stepping away. It is what kept all-time greats like Johnny Unitas, Joe Montana and Brett Favre in the game after their skills had deteriorated due to age and injury.

Broadcasting: Manning’s experience as a well-paid pitchman for various products has made him at ease in front of a camera. TV networks have noticed. When he announces his retirement as a player, be it sooner or later, he will be pursued as a studio analyst.

That way, he would be able to stay around the game he loves while also maintaining visibility, which would enhance his worth as an endorser of such products as Buick, Gatorade, Nationwide, DirecTV and Papa John’s.

Coaching: Driven and detail-oriented, Manning is an unquestioned student of the game. Because of that, he might be compelled to try his hand at coaching on one level or another. Many Tennessee Vols fans are smitten with the idea he might one day return to his alma mater as an assistant coach or even head coach.

This, though, is an unlikely turn in his career path for Manning. Although he has made occasional references to coaching, those close to him say he has never really considered it a viable option, with the possible exception of coaching youth football. Seldom do ultra-successful players make it as college or NFL coaches.

Private business: Manning’s business acumen has helped him accumulate considerable wealth (various publications list his net worth as at least $125 million) so he would be as comfortable in the boardroom as he is in the huddle.

He already has a start in the business world. He doesn’t just endorse Papa John’s; he owns 21 of the company’s franchises, all of which are located in Colorado.

NFL team front office: This appears to be the most likely landing spot for Manning when his playing days are over. During his four seasons in Denver, Manning has observed how Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway has evolved into a successful NFL executive as executive vice president for football operations and general manager for the Broncos.

Although some believe Manning could transition seamlessly from the field to a top front-office position, he likely would need a period of apprenticeship. Elway spent 13 years working in private business and was co-owner of an Arena Football League team before joining the Broncos as an executive.

The best situation would be for Manning to join an organization where he could work under a proven general manager for a couple of years. At that point, he likely would be in position to assume the kind of role Elway has in Denver.

Regardless of what path he chooses, Peyton Manning should be successful. He’s been a winner on the field so why should it be any different off the field?

– David Climer

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