Hi, Peyton Manning. We know you’re busy Sunday, cranking out whatever eight-yard check-downs you have left in the old noodle, so let’s chase this straight to the nitty.
As opposed to being stretchered off, ambulanced out or toe-bagged toward the setting sun.
Seriously. Leave the game before your brain has gone to gravy and mashed potatoes, and you’re Joe Montana taking ibuprofen through IV bags, or Kenny Stabler forgetting where you left both the car keys and the corresponding car.
87 Ex-NFL players who tested positive out of a group of 91 for the brain disease at the center of the debate over concussions in football, according to an October 2015 study
Walk away, before you can’t.
If you pass for 212 yards and beat the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50, go John Elway on the game and call it a portfolio.
If you complete five passes to the wrong team and get boat-raced to the silver medal stand, jog down the tunnel, out the double doors and take the first flight to a gated senior community in Coral Gables, Fla.
Win, lose, play to a draw and kiss Ginger the Commissioner, we don’t care.
Tell us to have a nice life, then get on with your own.
You’re turning 40 next month. You already have one Super Bowl ring, four AFC championship trophies, 14 Pro Bowl vacations, five MVP awards, NFL records in passing yards and touchdown throws …
What more do you need? Don’t you realize everything from this point is paid for with brain tissue and motor skill futures?
I know. Roger Goodell actually said to play football because there’s risk sitting on the couch, which makes us wonder if the concussion protocol applies to the NFL offices or just their hired help.
But, go ask Montana how football feels at age 59 with crippling arthritis, blown knees, knifed-up elbows and hazy vision from damaged nerves from head trauma.
“Unfortunately, most of us leave this game with things that linger,” Montana told USA TODAY.
Ex-Oakland Raiders quarterback Ken Stabler, who died in July, was added this week to the growing lineup of NFL players afflicted by CTE.
Maybe you can relate. Remember that neck surgery that put you on the shelf for a year? How about all those injuries you don’t talk about because you want one more diamond ring?
We’ve seen you take a dive to avoid a sack without being touched. Is this what it’s come down to after all those hits? Phantom tackles so you can live to see another phantom tackle?
Listen, you seem to be a great guy. We love your work on “Saturday Night Live.” We’ll never look at a Port-O-Let again without thinking of you drilling United Way kids in the thorax with spirals.
It’s just that this brain-damage documentation and the science of CTE – short for they got their brains smashed in and were told to “shake it off, candy pants” – is no joke. Every time we read about an NFL retiree choosing death by suicide, we sit up a little straighter.
Just as terrifying as seeing brain-scrambled players die young with CTE symptoms is seeing our favorites not die young with said symptoms and dragging out the suffering into their Social Security years.
Know what’s just as terrifying as seeing brain-scrambled football players die young with chronic traumatic encephalopathy symptoms? Seeing our favorite players not die young with said symptoms, which means they get to drag out the suffering into their Social Security years.
Peyton, you made your point, coming back from a career-ending neck injury to show your career wasn’t over yet. It’s been a joy watching you not die trying.
But after this, walk away, while you still know what day it is.
1. The Carolina Panthers have won 17 out of 18. They score points by the bundles when they know 21 is more than enough for their defense. They play shutdown defense when they know their offense has more than got this covered. That’s why Carolina beats Denver 30-17, says the Nostradamus who picked the Colts to win the parade.
2. If Carolina wins the Super Bowl, may coach Ron Rivera pay homage to the first Latino head coach to do so: Tom Flores, champion of two Super Bowls as a coach and one as a player. Too bad the Pro Football Hall of Fame has never heard of the guy.
3. We see former 49ers executive Eddie DeBartolo made the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but we gotta say: The Louisiana riverboat scandal we can overlook, but handing over the keys to the franchise to the Yorks? That’s a bigger bust than the one he’ll get in Canton.