Not “Jamaal Charles” best, but the best by a margin that doesn’t require opening the stats book.
A player that can attract opposing fans to Arrowhead just to see him play. A player that can take an average team from a division win to Super Bowl champions. A player that changes and defines his position.
In Kansas City, you probably have to go back to the Derrick Thomas days.
That’s a long time ago.
The Kansas City Chiefs have been presented with an opportunity to have such a player in Peyton Manning. A player that could get us beyond a division win, a player that has and possibly can in the future take a team to the greatest sporting event on Earth if things worked the way we hope.
But that’s a big if.
In my business, I work with injured parties. In twenty five years I have seen injuries convincingly faked, and just as convincingly covered up. When it comes to evaluating an injury and recovery like Manning’s, especially with a player as obsessed with the game of football as he obviously is (not to mention the pain-masking drugs available to NFL players) well, the gamble is almost hard to comprehend.
Not only will the Kansas City Chiefs be gambling salary cap money, they could be gambling future of the team for some time to come.
I think we would let go two very serviceable quarterbacks in Orton and Cassel. We would have killed for either of these players in 2008. One wrong hit taken by Manning, and we are instantly back to the misery of the Herm Edwards years.
However, it could be a gamble pays off with historic returns.
I have seen Peyton Manning play at Arrowhead multiple times. I’ve seen him shake his head in disgust and storm back to the bench in frustration at the roar of the greatest football stadium on earth.
That’s a roar he could certainly use to his advantage in a red and gold jersey.
That roar is the loudest noise I’ve experienced. I’ve had to cover my ears at times, sure I was probably suffering permanent hearing damage, but laughing in pure joy just the same.
That roar would be just a whisper compared to what we would hear if a healthy Payton Manning took the field in the red and gold.
Close games would end with the Kansas City Chiefs victorious. Close wins would be transformed into blowouts. The best team in the division would no longer be a matter of debate.
But bringing Manning to Kansas City could also be a horrible mistake.
The wrong hit on Manning could result in our team becoming once again a rudderless ship.
All the great quarterbacks secure in team contracts with other teams. All the serviceable ones too. And some Stanzi jerseys will start showing up in Wal-Mart and K-Mart stores in Missouri, Nebraska, and Kansas.
And the record for the worst win/loss record in Kansas City Chiefs history will likely be broken again.
But when it all boils down to is that football is a gamble overall. Jerry Jones, one of the richest, most committed owners in the NFL, can’t get it right anymore. An owner whose total focus is to get his team to the Super Bowl at any cost can’t get that done anymore.
And a team that has nowhere near that kind of monetary backing, the Green Bay Packers, gets it right year after year.
The Packers went from Favre to Rodgers without skipping a beat. Sure they know how to win. And pick players. But when you get right down to it, going from a quarterback like Favre to Rogers, or Montana to Young, boils down to mostly dumb luck. And taking crazy chances.
So here we are. Clearly if we are to reach a Super Bowl within the next five years, we are going to have to take some gambles. Huge gambles. The Manning situation certainly fits that description.
Frankly, I’m wary of the move. The wrong hit on Manning and we ruin five, maybe ten years of painful, but steady progress.
But at this point, I think your Arrowhead Adventurer is ready for some pure adrenalin-fueled excitement to return to the worlds greatest NFL stadium.
Manning plus the retention of either Orton or Cassel and I’m definitely on board.
What about you?
~ Frederick B. Wilcox