SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Archie Manning is going to have a talk with his son.
The patriarch of football’s first family told reporters outside the winning locker room after the Broncos’ 24-10 victory over the Panthers on Sunday night in Super Bowl 50 that he expects to have a candid, emotional conversation with Peyton Manning in the coming weeks.
The subject of their chat will be the topic that enthralled all of America in the build-up to the big game: Whether this win will be the last we see of an all-time great on the field.
“At some point we’ll talk about some things,” Archie said. “And he’s got some decisions to make.”
Archie said he has some opinions and feelings he’d like to share, and maybe even some wisdom to impart, but at this point, he knows that they matter little.
“I want to hear his side of it first,” he said. “I would never tell Peyton what to do, what not to do. And he knows. If he wants to play football, if he’d like to go to another team, he’ll be 40, I don’t know.
“I’m not going to say anything to him,” he continued. “I’m just going to say, ‘Hey, talk to me now. Tell me what’s going on.’ ”
At 39, Peyton Manning became the oldest quarterback to start a Super Bowl. And he did it in a very unconventional style. The team was led by its defense and its running game, which are aspects that he rarely enjoyed during earlier runs to this point in his career.
There also were obvious physical hurdles for Manning. He missed time with a foot injury, spent time on the scout team and was even the backup quarterback for a brief stretch of time. All of those, Archie was quick to point out, were firsts for him.
“Through it all, the best I can tell, he remained a good team player and tried to make a contribution,” Archie said.
And Sunday night it resulted in a second Super Bowl title, a shower of confetti and perhaps the greatest sunset to a career any player can imagine.
Yesterday morning, before the game, Archie appeared at a promotional event along with his son Eli, the quarterback of the Giants, and a close friend, Brett Favre. Archie had followed Favre’s career along with his sons’, and on Saturday night, he saw the Mississippian elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. That, Archie said, was when the reality of this being the “last rodeo” — as Peyton called the possibility two weeks ago — began to sink in.
“We had fun, but thinking of Brett going into the Hall of Fame and Peyton at this stage, I got a little emotional,” Archie said. “It’s more about being proud, though, than anything.”
Proud enough to know he should step out of the way when it comes to such a personal decision.
“I don’t give him advice. He’s 40 years old,” he said. “He’s played so much more football than me. I always tell him to keep the faith and have fun.”
It seemed as if he did just that Sunday night. But will he be able to do it away from the field? Forever? Is it possible to think of Peyton Manning and not see him playing football?
“I can imagine it,” Archie said. “It happens to everybody. And you know what? He’ll handle it. Whatever it is, he’ll handle it. He can do that.”