Four neck surgeries and an entire season ago, Peyton Manning stood atop the NFL mountain as one of the few quarterbacks in the league who would be a first ballot hall-of-famer once he retired from the sport. He was a master at throwing the ball down the field and finding the open receiver. He handed out touchdowns like they were candied treats and his receivers were eager trick-or-treaters. He rarely made mistakes - but when he did he quickly righted the ship and the scoring continued. But that was then - this is now. The old Peyton Manning is no more and I for one am thrilled about it.
It seems like so long ago. Just prior to the start of last season, the National Football League and the Player's Union were locked in a drawn out battle. The owners locked out the players. The players decertified their union. The NFL dug in and prepared for a heated battle. The players filed an anti-trust lawsuit. The lawyers were feasting like lions on the endless supply of litigation. Meanwhile, the fans got sick of hearing about the battle between the millionaires and billionaires.
The NFL's Hall of Fame game was cancelled. Owners were in danger of losing concessions and parking revenue. Players were in danger of missing game checks. Fans were in danger of missing real games. Suddenly, at the 11th hour, all of the pieces fell into place and a deal was done. It was done so quickly, in fact, that players showed up to training camp even before the official agreement was signed. The world breathed a collective sigh of relief as football would live to see another day.