Peyton Manning wore gloves during practice in Colorado Friday, and he likely will wear them at Met Life Stadium. (Ed Andrieski / Associated Press)
Jersey City, N.J. — Would Peyton Manning do what Ray Lewis did last year? Would he take his Super Bowl championship ring, should he win it, and ride off into NFL infamy?
He opened the door to that possibility Sunday, and then almost as quickly he seemed to close it.
“I know that there have been a number of players who have walked away as champions,” he said, shortly after he and the Broncos arrived in New Jersey. “I’m sure that it is a great feeling for those people. John Elway. Ray Lewis did it last year, and Michael Strahan.
“In talking to Ray Lewis, and talking to John Elway, they couldn’t play anymore. It was all they had to give. They truly left it all out there.”
Manning is 37 and just two years removed from neck surgery. But, after throwing for 6,107 yards and 59 touchdowns this season, it hardly seems like he only has one more good game left in him.
“I certainly had a career change two years ago with my injury and with changing teams,” he said.
“I’ve been truly on a one-year-at-a-time basis. So, I really have no plans beyond this game. I had no plans, coming into this season, beyond this year. I think that it is the healthy way to approach your career at this stage.”
Here’s the kicker, though. If Manning walked away after the Super Bowl Sunday, he would be leaving $20 million on the table — plus non-guaranteed sums of $19 million in both 2015 and 2016.
“I still enjoy playing football,” he said. “I feel a little better than I thought I would at this point, coming off that surgery. I still enjoy the preparation part of it, the work part of it. Everybody enjoys the games. Everybody is going to be excited to play in a Super Bowl. When you still enjoy the preparation and the work part of it, I think you ought to be still doing that.
“I think as soon as I stop enjoying it, if I can’t produce, if I can’t help a team, that’s when I will stop playing. If that’s next year, then maybe it is. I certainly want to continue to keep playing.”
Not an economic boon
Will the snowy New York City area really reap an estimated $600 million economic boost from the Super Bowl? Probably not.
Despite such lofty predictions, sports economists say the financial impact of the Super Bowl could fall far below expectations, in part because visitors often spend their cash at NFL-sponsored or corporate events rather than at tourist attractions. Some hotels say Super Bowl bookings are running behind what they hoped for, prompting them to ease demands for minimum stays and room deposits. And academic studies show that at best, past Super Bowls generated tens of millions, not hundreds of millions.
“Move the decimal point one place to the left,” said Robert Baade, a professor at Lake Forest College in Illinois, who has studied the Super Bowl’s impact on local economies.
“The NFL says $500 or $600 million? I think $50 to $60 million would be a generous appraisal of what the Super Bowl generates.”
Gloves fit Manning
Chances are Manning will be like most of the fans in the stands at MetLife Stadium and will wear gloves at the Super Bowl.
That shouldn’t be a cause for concern for Broncos fans. He actually plays better with the sticky-feeling orange-and-gray glove on his right hand than he does barehanded.
Manning never wore a glove in Indianapolis but in his two years in Denver he’s worn one on either his throwing hand or on both hands 13 times. He has a passer rating of 111.9 in those games.
Barehanded, his QB rating is 108.7.
Associated Press contributed