Crisis Averted, Texans Fan -- Peyton Manning Spurns Titans for Broncos
In a Texans offseason that has seen some good (Arian Foster's and Chris Myers' multiyear contract extensions), some bad (Mario Williams' leaving, although the Texans have proven they can survive that), and some ugly (the dismantling of the right side of the offensive line), strangely enough, the Texans' hopes and dreams for the 2012 season were probably most inextricably linked to one single potential move of another team.
One coming, one going
Specifically and ironically, the floor and ceiling on 2012 for the Texans would take a drastic swing based on whether or not their division rivals and previous tenants in the hearts and minds of our city (back when they operated under the name "Oilers") the Tennessee Titans would be able to acquire Peyton Manning.
While the Texans deserve most of the credit for their breakthrough season in 2011, there's no denying the fact that the absence of Peyton Manning in Indianapolis allowed the Texans to breathe much easier and made an already winnable division a lock cinch once it was clear Wade Phillips' defense was the real deal. Not even injuries to numerous critical players (including quarterback Matt Schaub) could derail the division title train.
So when it was announced that Manning would be returning somewhere other than Indianapolis in 2012, the Texans' could resume gassing up the "If only Schaub hadn't gotten injured we'd have made the Super Bowl" bus. And then, in what appears to be an ongoing effort to have Texan fans shit bomb the front of his Houston-area home, Titans owner Bud Adams thrust his franchise into the Peyton sweepstakes, to the point where many in Nashville considered it a done deal over the weekend.
Well, rest easy, Texan fans. According to reports earlier today (ESPN's Chris Mortensen broke the story), it appears as though the Broncos and Manning are on the verge of consummating a five year, $95 million marriage that has wide reaching impact on various players and teams.
Let's examine each of those, shall we?
6. The Texans
Even the Moon Pie option didn't work for the Titans
Yes, the Broncos are on the Texans' schedule the next two seasons, so we are not completely rid of Peyton Manning, but it could have been much worse. For the regular season, one potential out-of-division game per season beats the hell out of two games per season in the division with (easily) the next best team in the AFC South. For whatever you may think of Mario Williams, Mike Brisiel, and Eric Winston and what their departures may mean to the Texans, all three of their departures combined have a fraction of the impact that Peyton-to-Titans would have had. If it got as close as some Nashville insiders indicate, the Texans dodged a real bullet today.
5. The Titans
By all accounts, the effort to deliver Peyton Manning to the Titan fan base was largely spurred on by Bud Adams, who at the age of 146 doesn't have many more early Februarys left in him. The genesis of Tennessee's involvement was somewhat comical: outsider looking in, it almost appeared like Adams was surfing some version of NFL free agency eBay, saw Peyton available, and decided that "You know what? Peyton is good, he's from Tennessee...Dammit, I want that Peyton!!", like Manning was some sort of impulse buy, like a plasma television.
Rumor has it Adams offered Peyton Manning a "lifetime contract," whatever that means. Last I checked, the length of an NFL deal needs to be a finite number of years over which to spread the signing bonus, and "lifetime" is not a finite number. (Although admittedly it would be a hilarious way to see a team try and finagle cap space, by spreading a signing bonus out over the rest of a player's life.)
4. Titan fans
Strangely enough, Adams' now-misguided attempt to do the right thing could backfire on him. How will Titan fans react? You know how sometimes you get so close to acquiring something, and even if the chances of getting it were slight to begin with, getting close makes losing out on it even more painful? It's a version of "almost buyer's" remorse. I have to imagine that heading into the season with Matt Hasselbeck or Jake Locker under center is going to feel like a major comedown for Titans fans, especially if and when Peyton is putting up huge numbers in Denver.
3. Pancakes and moon pies
In the "New and Exciting Ways To Circumvent The Salary Cap" department, this one is pretty good, courtesy of al.com:
On Friday, Nashville-based restaurant chain Shoney's took out an ad in the Nashville Tennessean offering Manning free pancakes everyday for the length of his career in Nashville.
Chattanooga Bakery, makers of the MoonPie snack cake, followed suit on Monday offering Manning and his family a lifetime-supply of MoonPies contingent upon his signing with the Titans.
Okay, I don't want any of you reading in Tennessee or Alabama or any other state in the redneck breadbasket of our country to get mad at me now when I joke about your part of the country using chickens and pies as currency, because you obviously do. Hell, I don't know why you even take offense! I think it's pretty cool.
(In other news, Carlos Lee has announced he will begin playing football starting immediately.)