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Peyton Manning making the right move, even if it took a shove

Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning is saying goodbye after an 18-year career. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

Peyton Manning will have a press conference Monday to announce his retirement, but Broncos vice president John Elway didn’t waste any time issuing a statement Sunday. Not a bad move if you’re worried that a worn-down, 39-year-old quarterback might have second thoughts about his decision.

“When you look at everything Peyton has accomplished as a player and person, it’s easy to see how fortunate we’ve been to have him on our team,” Elway said. “Peyton was everything that we thought he was and even more — not only for the football team but in the community. I’m very thankful Peyton chose to play for the Denver Broncos, and I congratulate him on his Hall of Fame career.’’

Try mounting a fourth-quarter comeback against that, Peyton.

It’s hard for professional athletes to let go, even when they’re going out on top. But it’s easier when there isn’t much of a market for your services. The Broncos didn’t want Manning back, even though he was the starting quarterback on their Super Bowl 50 team. Brock Osweiler is their future.

As Manning surely found out while trying to gauge interest in him, not many teams want an 18-year veteran whose passes break few speed-limit postings. The teams that might want a veteran to help mentor a young quarterback – Cleveland, with the second overall draft pick, comes to mind – usually are struggling organizations with the kind of talent deficit that can leave a quarterback in a heap.

Manning’s reputation has taken a hit in the past year. He had to respond to a report that human growth hormone had been delivered to his home (he denies using HGH), and a 20-year-old sexual harassment accusation against him was resurrected. Had he played another season, those stories would have lingered.

No, this is the right decision, even if it was a decision made for him. He’d probably play 10 more seasons if he could. Football is what he does. Beach volleyball player Kerri Walsh Jennings is 37 with three children and will be competing in her fifth Summer Olympics this year. Why? Because she can.

Manning can’t play at a high level anymore. Anyone who watched the Super Bowl knows that. Now he walks away a winner on the field, with his body more or less intact. Smart move, even if it took a shove.