Bryant and Manning, The Best of an Era

December 10, 2015

Two athletes that are arguably in the top tier of their respective sports are soon heading back to locker-room for the final time. I don’t know if Manning has outwardly said he is retiring but I really can’t see him lacing them up for next year. Manning has played for eighteen seasons, for the Indianapolis Colts and the Denver Broncos. He will turn forty next year and has diminished arm strength and body movement. I also don’t see him as the type to play second fiddle on the sidelines while some fresh-faced kid is giving it a go as starting quarterback in the NFL. Bryant announced his departure after this year on his terms after twenty years with Los Angeles Lakers. 

I have seen my share of great basketball players and football players, but these two guys are in the top ten all time in their sports. You can review their stats and make comparisons with other players from other eras and years, but they also pass the eye test. There is no statistic for being clutch.  Kobe Bryant was a big time, big game player who had ice in veins in the pressure filled games. He like Michael Jordan whom he gets compared with in the NBA history folklore, took over those big games and sometimes seem liked they were willing their team to win. Nothing was going to stop them.

Peyton Manning does have his critics for not winning enough Super Bowls to everyone’s liking but football more than other sports is ultimate team game. He will be always being remembered as a player that made everyone around him better. He exudes confidence and control of the game when he is on the field. He is very animated on the line but that is part of the skill set that he offers. The animation is there for distraction to the defense and signals to his offensive players. Manning has always been a part of winning teams and being the quarterback, he should take most of the credit for those victories.

These types of athletes are few are far between. Like Manning, Tom Brady plays in the same era and they are the only quarterbacks that are still around who are considered to be on the all-time list of greats.  As far as Kobe, he stands alone in his era as a legendary player still lacing them up.    When they retire there will be long void before we see their like again. It has been a pleasure watching them, unfortunately I had to root against more time than not. You look back at the time you invested watching them and how they are part of your life span, you appreciate their talents even more. Salute Kobe Bryant and Peyton Manning!