Peyton and Tiger… It’s so hard to say goodbye

As you are reading this, I am already on the road. I am heading back to Salem, Virginia to cover — as I did last year — the Stagg Bowl. It is the crowning achievement in NCAA DIII football, and really one of the more fun games of the year. It’s on ESPN U Friday night at 7 PM if you don’t believe me. Ever hear of Friday Night Lights? Well, that wasn’t about this, but hey, it’s Friday night, and there will be plenty of lights.

Anyway, our old friend Dunton stepped in and agreed to help keep the morning thoughts rolling, because typing is rather difficult on a six hour road trip. Today he looks at the current state of two all time greats.

If a tree falls in a forest and no one’s around to hear it, does it make a sound?

That is a philosophical question that deals with observations and reality. Well I got one better for you.

If a legend retires without officially retiring do we know they retired?

I ask that question on the heels of Tiger Woods’ recent press conference and seeing what has been happening with Peyton Manning the past few weeks.  In the same very night we saw the mighty Peyton bandaged up, we witnessed Brock Osweiler defeat the mighty undefeated Patriots with a come from behind OT victory. This, of course, was the same week that Kobe decided to officially retire.

And that is the difference. We heard Kobe announce his retirement. We all know that Kobe will be playing his final game. But with Tiger and Peyton it’s different. They haven’t announced their retirement but to the tuned in sports fan, we hear the tree falling regardless if we are standing in the forest.

Let’s not be fooled by the idea that Peyton says he wants to play another year or the fact that the Broncos have not fully committed to Brock. We might see Peyton get a chance at another Super Bowl but in all honesty, it’s probably going to be as a backup QB for this Broncos team. His arm has weakened, he can’t move in the pocket, and the Broncos seem to be better since he went down. Brock had won 3 games in a row and the Broncos offensive line that struggled to protect Peyton doesn’t seem to have the same issues blocking for the run or Brock.

Is it probably because Brock is under center and not in the pistol, the exact type of offense that Kubiak and this line are built for? Sure. But the writing is on the wall. Peyton seems to be the only one not reading it. The rest of us are, we see it clear as day.

Peyton, it’s time to ride off in the sunset, go find a job on a major network on Sunday’s or become the greatest offensive coordinator ever. You have already done that for the past 14 seasons.

Then we find Tiger. Quite literally this guy has spent most of this past golf season in the woods anyway. Unlike in other sports, we have seen other golfers play championship level golf in their 40s. This isn’t the same Peyton Manning dilemma we are dealing with here.

During his press conference Tiger made comments like: “There is no timetable, so that’s the hardest part for me. There’s really nothing I can look forward to, nothing I can build towards.”  This does not sound like the normal Tiger speak. This is no longer the usual, “I am improving each day,” or “I like where my game is at” or “I will be back out there when my game is good enough to be out there”.

This is a man who is looking at reality square in the face and seeing his future. Tiger will turn 40 on December 30th. There are plenty of golfers out there still competing at a high level after 40. Look at Phil, Steve Stricker, Fred Couples, and of course we all know about Jack at the Masters at 44. Those guys are different than Tiger. They did not have major surgery on their backs (twice), a torn ACL, broken legs or put their bodies under the stress and work that Tiger put his under. I mean let’s be real how many other golfers use the Army Ranger training as a workout regiment?

Just the other day Jack said, “To count him out of that (the majors record) would be foolish, he certainly has a very good chance of doing that.” Does he Jack? Do you really mean what you say or are you protecting the game that you helped become mainstream? I think deep down Jack knows that Tiger has fallen so far that the idea of him winning five more majors is lunacy. Then again the guy won a US Open in an 18-hole playoff on one leg so anything is possible.

These icons helped define the last decade of sports. They dominated their sport and were must watch TV, and it worked out perfect. As the golf season was winding down we could turn to Peyton and then as football was wrapping up there was Tiger on Sundays in March until August doing things we never dreamed of seeing on the golf course. Yes, Peyton only has one Super Bowl championship compared to Tiger’s 14 Major championships but when you spoke of football or golf during that decade the names Peyton and Tiger rolled right off of your tongue without hesitation.

They both turn 40 in the next 3 months, Tiger in December and Peyton in March. Do they retire the way we want our legends to retire? Even the aforementioned Kobe is limping away towards his retirement as he goes 6-for-25 from the floor. Is this how we really want to see him go?

Not everyone can do what John Elway did walking off the field in Super Bowl glory. Maybe he needs to let Peyton know just how lucky he was.

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