The world's greatest gambler was Lady Godiva. She put everything she had on a horse. But John Elway deserves honorable mention for gambling the Denver Bronco's future on the 36 year-old arm and neck of Peyton Manning.
You never know how these things will turn out. But the Denver Broncos may well have traded their future for Peyton Manning's past. What a spectacular past it is. But a past withal. Before Manning straps on Bronco pads for the first time he'll be a 36-year-old quarterback with a dodgy neck and a season's worth of ring-rust to work off. And Tim Tebow, different but wildly promising, will almost certainly fulfill that promise elsewhere.
Tebow has some traditional quarterback skills to learn to go along with what he alone can do. He appears to have the focus and the drive to do this. Peyton has been The Best. But he's one hit away from ownership of an Indianapolis car dealership and the permanent banquet circuit.
Too bad we can't fast-forward and take a peek at the final year of Manning's contract when he will be a 40-year-old, $18 million quarterback (or a civilian if his neck gives out before then) and Tebow will be 29 and, very likely, at the peak of some very interesting powers.
If Manning wins a Super Bowl or two for Denver no one there will remember today's nervous Nellies. But if the Super Bowl rings wind up on Tebow's fingers, perhaps for a Florida team, John Elway will have to go back to buying his own drinks in Denver Night spots.