DENVER (AP) – Peyton Manning stood next to John Elway, holding up a bright orange jersey with the No. 18 on it.

Yes, that could take some getting used to.

And now if Manning’s surgically repaired neck cooperates, these two quarterbacks — one in the Hall of Fame, the other headed there one day — think they might be taking a similar photo together, only next time they’ll be holding a Super Bowl trophy.

Manning was introduced as the new quarterback of the Denver Broncos on Tuesday, the four-time MVP taking the spot once held by Elway, who as Broncos vice president engineered the deal to bring the NFL’s most sought-after free agent to town.

It’s a deal that could also mark the end of Tim Tebow’s days in Denver — a bold move, for sure, but one Elway was more than willing to take.

“Plan B?” he said. “I don’t have a Plan B. We’re going with Plan A.”

PHOTO GALLERY: Broncos Introduce Peyton Manning

After his photo op with Elway and owner Pat Bowlen, Manning answered many of the questions that have been bouncing around since March 7, when his old team, the Indianapolis Colts, released the quarterback and set in motion one of the most frenetic free-agent pursuits in history.

On the neck injury that kept him off the field through 2011: “I’m not where I want to be. I want to be where I was before I was injured. There’s a lot of work to do to get where we want to be from a health standpoint.”

On his potential role in being the man who could bring about the end of Tebow’s popular stay in Denver: “I know what kind of player Tim Tebow is, what kind of person he is, what an awesome year it was. If Tim Tebow is here next year, I’m going to be the best teammate I can be to him. He and I are going to help this team win games. If other opportunities present themselves to him, I’m going to wish him the best.”

On Elway’s role in leading him to choose Denver over other suitors, the most serious of which were the Titans and 49ers: “I’m seeing him as the leader of a franchise. I really liked what he had to say. Everyone knows what kind of competitor he is as a player. I can tell he’s just as competitive in this new role. That got me excited.”

And so, the deal was sealed.

Manning has a five-year, $96 million contract and plans to retire in Denver. His familiar No. 18 was actually retired — a tribute to Denver’s first quarterback, Frank Tripucka, who was more than happy to let Manning bring it out of mothballs. The Broncos, meanwhile, have some protection in the way the contract was formulated. There’s no signing bonus. Manning will get $18 million guaranteed for next season, but must pass a physical before each season, starting in 2013, to get paid.

“I don’t consider it much of a risk, knowing Peyton Manning,” Elway said. “I asked him, `Is there any doubt in your mind that you can’t get back to the Peyton Manning we know of?’ And he said, `There’s no doubt in my mind.”‘

It was 14 years ago that Bowlen stood on the podium in San Diego, lifted the franchise’s first Super Bowl trophy and proclaimed: “This one’s for John.”

But this franchise hasn’t been anywhere near what it was since Elway retired a year later with a second title in tow.

His return to the front office last year set off a whirlwind of activity that landed the Broncos in the playoffs. But Elway has always been in this to win Super Bowls and he’s throwing his hat in with Manning, the 50,000-yard passer who redefined the quarterback position through the 2000s, not Tebow — who seems most comfortable carrying and not throwing the ball.

“Tim Tebow’s a great kid. If I want someone to marry my daughter, it’s him,” Elway said. “Tim is a great football player, but with the opportunity that presented itself here, we had to take advantage of that.”

He said no decision has been made on Tebow’s future, but he seemed to be preparing the quarterback’s fans to say goodbye.

“That’s the tough part of this business,” Elway said.

Manning, who turns 36 on Saturday, said he made a quick connection with Elway, who won his two Super Bowls in Denver after his 37th birthday. Since No. 7’s retirement, a long string of quarterbacks have come to Denver, trying in vain to replace the unreplaceable. If anyone can get out of that shadow, Manning could be the man.

He’s got two trips to the Super Bowl and one title, 11 Pro Bowls and was the fastest player to reach 50,000 yards and 4,000 completions.

Long known as a master student of the game, there are hours of highlights available that begin with Manning standing at the line of scrimmage, surveying a defense, checking out of a play — or two — then calling the right one and getting the Colts to the end zone.

It’s expected he’ll be able to run his kind of offense in Denver, which reverted to an option-style system to maximize Tebow’s potential last year.

One other factor in Manning’s decision to play outdoors in the Mile High City: The nearly $40 million in salary cap room the Broncos have, putting them in the mix for quality free agents, possibly including Manning’s former teammates Jeff Saturday and Dallas Clark.

Anything to get a championship or two in the few years he’s got left.

“I realize I don’t have 14 years left, by any means,” Manning said. “This isn’t something where I’m just building a foundation to do something in two years or three years. This is a `now’ situation. We’re going to do whatever we can to win right now. That’s all I’m thinking about right now.”

The status of Manning’s neck, however, will be an ongoing issue. It’s one thing to throw through the entire route tree on a practice field, which he did to pretty much everyone’s satisfaction, quite another to take a blindside hit from a 300-pound defender, which hasn’t happened since he was surgically repaired.

“There’s no question I have work to do,” Manning said. “I’ve been very open with the Broncos, really all the teams, about my medical history, about where I am, about how I feel. I really let them tell me. I’ve put all the cards out on the table, working out for three teams, going through my entire medical history, not just this past year. I couldn’t sell myself when it came to that. I had to let them tell me and decide this was something they wanted to do.”

– By EDDIE PELLS, AP National Writer

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (52)
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  2. Robt says:

    This is a big mistake for Elway. There are so many famous jocks set to retire that are paid millions to make a team like Denver a winner. It never works. Manning will be gone via the bounty or just a bken neck. He is crazy, but his ego is more important to him then his health. What a wate if time and money

    1. Robt says:

      You are right. Egg heads starve their kids to buy tickets in three figures to watch guys like Manning. that is why he gets paid millions. Manning will be a total failure in Denver because he has no offense line to defend him. He also does not have the receivers. Manning will be cream, and so will Elway.

  3. Matt Drudge says:

    So Elway also makes the call as to who his daughter can marry. Cool. Not.

  4. Kent says:

    Elway made up a little bit for this terrible decision by saying he would want Tebow to marry his daughter – After Manning goes down in the first couple of games, he just might want Tebow to QB his team.

  5. Joe says:

    This can be Tebow’s apprenticeship…. and in a couple years, he’ll be ridiculous!
    Remember Steve Young under Montana?

  6. drillntap says:

    Manning playing for Denver…..96 million
    Manning, if he had held this press conference wearing a neck brace…..priceless

  7. George N. Weezie says:

    After Manning had the second surgery, I told friends that his career is over. Neck surgeries have a 98% failure rate. They are like pringles in that you can’t just have one. Denver, under a neurologically compromised Manning, won’t even make it to the wildcard. Manning won’t go 1/2 the season. I wish him the best however, but I have treated too many of these cases (post-surgical) to know what the outcome will be. Denver should have held on to Tebow as he matured as a QB, just as they groomed the young Elway. I hope I’m wrong, but I know that I’m not.

  8. MrObstat says:

    Elway is sexist. Who says that his daughter must marry a man, fer chrissakes?! People have so many, many more choices nowadays, thank God!

    Patriarchal oppression shows its ugly head once again and it ain’t pretty.

  9. Edward Riepe says:

    And what happens when Manning goes down hurt? At 36, four neck surgeries,,, are the Broncos that stupid or desperate to win? I can’t blame Manning I guess. Heck, if I just had triple by pass surgery and someone offered me 96 million I would crawl off that table and say ‘gimme’ the ball’. Only time will tell but time is on young Tebow’s side in this case.

  10. Colleen says:

    NO LOYALTY!! John Elway is a joke! A nd he will find out the hard way this is not how you treat a player that brought your season back from the brink and the fanns to their feet time and time again! Why would you trade an up and coming healthy QB for a washed up hurt QB?! Come to Tampa Tebow the BUCS need a QB!! I mean there is a reason IN got rid of him!

    1. etienne says:

      85 million reasons :)

  11. Jessica says:

    Tebow will not marry Elway’s daughter. He can’t make it down the aisle with Elways knife in his back.

    1. Guest says:

      No truer words have been spoken.

  12. Jessica says:

    Tebow will not marry Elway’s daughter. He couldn’t make it down the aisle with Elway’s knife in his back.

  13. Billy says:

    It would be dumb to trade Tebow. Keep him as a backup who can work on his mechanics and study the master. Sheesh. Didn’t Steve Young do that under Joe Monatana?

  14. Isaac Bickerstaff says:

    This deal will do for the Broncos what trading Babe Ruth did for the Red Sox.

    85 years in the wilderness.

    Should we call it the curse of the Bam-Tebow?

  15. Mike says:

    Markangelo, how many times are you going to keep embarrassing yourself and keep posting your anti-Christian foolishness? We get hate Tim Tebow. But at least Tebow can spell. Unlike you.

    1. TenEC says:

      Mike, Baal is another name for Satan. Markangelo is obviously worshipping him and not Tebow. Satanic loser that he is, Markie can spell.

  16. TenEC says:

    Why would any owner take a chance on a QB with a fused C5 & C6?
    At least Manning is honest when he told Denver he’s not where he wants to be. Manning will probably be in a wheelchair if he gets hard enough. Better load up on the HGH because camp opens in about 18 weeks.

  17. Bronco Fan says:

    If you’re a Tebow fan first then I get the resentment. Manning is arguably the best QB to play the game with 3-5 prime years left. If you’re a Bronco fan how can you not love this?

  18. ColoradoD says:

    Right now, I’d say the competition to be the starter is neck and neck between 18 and 15. I think the guy with the pain the the neck will win, but when he realizes after a game or two he can’t play 15 will be ready to man up and shoulder the load. Watch…..

  19. nomad says:

    Tebow’s a proven winner…The ‘new’ Manning is a question mark…win now? Go with the winner, obviously. It took Elway a long time to make his name. It’s gonna be the same in the front office…those three hundred pounder blind side hits will have Manning on the sideline well before the play-offs…

    1. Joel says:

      A man that has 4 MVP’s, 1 Super Bowl ring, 2 AFC championship wins, and made it to the pro-bowl 11 times, and broken a lot of the records for the qb position is not a proven winner? No, the kid who consistently has issues with his mechanics and accuracy, knows mostly how to run the ball and put himself out there (which I am sure will help lead him to a long career), had to win most of his games in overtime by the grace of a kickers leg (the real hero of Denver), and got destroyed by any team of actual caliber is the proven winner. That logic doesn’t make sense to me. Tebow is a good guy, I will give him that and he works hard. However, Peyton has always worked harder then anyone else and demanded the best of his teammates

      1. Dunce of Denver says:

        Has Been versus To Be? They bet the farm, and Elway is a stupid football player, who has no business running a team. Period!

      2. etienne says:

        It was exciting for the NFL what the Broncos did this past year. I probably would not have been too interested in what was happening but Tebow just made you want to know what was going on . The D kept them within reach and Tebow kept plugging along and then…WHAM…Superman !! It was fun all the way over here in New England. That said, I do not want to see Peyton get hurt. Hopefully if he doesnt feel up to par, he will walk away for his wife and his twins. More important than more money or another ring.

  20. FN Cee says:

    I’m hoping they all do great and everybody gets what they think is their money’s worth … especially all of us millions of fans who love to cheer ’em and boo ’em

  21. Not worth the money says:

    No football player is worth that amount of money. Professional athletes are not saving lives! These astronomical salaries are indicative of the decline in this country … we aren’t placing value on the right occupations. In this economy, what family can afford this sort of entertainment????

    1. Worth every penny says:

      Lets assume you’re NOT kidding! Also lets assume it wasn’t you who took the dump on the cop car at one of those crazy 99% welfare gatherings. With that out of the way football players are paid EXACTLY what they are worth. An individual is only worth what someone is willing to pay them. Whether it be $10 an hour or 96mil. There are only a hand full of humans on the planet that have the size and physical ability to play in the NFL. Way less than that have the mental toughness. Because of that they have the fortune of being independent contractors. Do you think the broncos wanted to pay him that? That is what Mr Manning has set his value to the league at. (Trust me…one billionare will pay)!

      It’s time for you to start getting out of bed with a different attitude. How about you wake up everyday and think about all the oppression that goes on around the world. The massive killings, rapings, starvation. What is indicative of the decline in those nations? Stop complaining and appreciate where you were born and how amazing you have it. When I get news about an american citizen getting a 96 mil dollar contract for doing what they love to do I get this tingly feeling running up my leg. Good for him and every other person in this country who bust their butts and makes a lot of money. Btw it’s really the Fathers money…we just get to posses a little of it for the short time we are here. Now cheer up!! Always remember you made you.

      1. etienne says:

        and Chris Matthews wishes he was big and strong enough to play in the NFL ?

    2. Matt Drudge says:

      And Buffalo just paid $100 mill for a player who also could not even get on the field for most of last year. Hey, I’m not nearly so injured, and will only ask you for, say, $5 million, and expect to be more healthy next year than these two. Think of the savings!

  22. Duude says:

    I like both Manning and Tebow. Both are class acts. I’d rather see Tebow backing up Manning so that he can learn from the best. Manning’s future is still uncertain.

  23. Kelly Smith says:

    Tebow hasn’t even got started in the Pros. Are you serious? Oh, and yes, he has favor. Keep your eyes on him-you’ll be amazed. Just Sayin’

  24. George says:

    Being nice doesn’t win games. Being competent wins games. Tebow’s football career is done.

    1. Pat says:

      Your sir and that comment are insane…You must be an atheist…

      1. Shaupeen says:

        Typical Tebow fan–can’t support his boy with facts, so he resorts to name calling and brings up religion in a football forum. Typical. Sad. Predictable. And soon heading for another city. Good riddance.

  25. Leland Williams Jr. says:

    Game 3 vs. Raiders. Manning sacked, cracks his old back. Elway comes in to run the shotgun. Fox calls time out. Brings Tbow in to win the game in the 4th Qtr. Geesh, what a mgt circus in Denver.

  26. jon says:

    This is what you call a 96 Million Dollar Mistake

  27. Glenn says:

    Replacing a young quarter back with a great future with an injury prone quarter back who’s best days are behind him is stupid. But what makes it worse is paying 96 mil for the has been. We should have used that money to build up our defense. I predict the Bronco’s will go no were this year and Manning will be out for at least part of this season with a flare up of his injuries.

    1. P-E-Z says:

      Manning has not had injury history until last season.

    2. Checkurfax says:

      Manning is so “injury prone” that he didn’t miss a start between September 6th 1998 and January 2nd 2011. That is 208 straight games. Which in case you were wondering is second only to Brett Farve in NFL history. The next guy behind him in consecutive starts just happens to come from the same “injury prone” gene pool.

    3. Matt Drudge says:

      Healthy is a relative term, and for Manning this only applies to his past. He has now had FOUR recent NECK surgeries, and still says that it “is not where I want it to be”. Considering a cool $95 million investment and the future of the team – say WHAAAAAA?

    4. reelman1946 says:

      Agree…high risk and short-sighted…both men are great models as people/family…wonderful…Tebow should go back to Fla and play for Miami…this is a sign the Broncs really deep down do not want him…it seems…and the cash could have bought a couple of awesome D guys or blockers…along about Thanksgiving we will all know “the score”…

  28. Gotero says:

    If Tebow stays he will be starting by the fifth game after Denver looses the first four games.

    1. Loosey Goosey says:


    2. Grammer Not-zee says:

      After Denver looses the first four games? Do you mean after Denver whins the first four games?

  29. guest says:

    If Elway is smart, he’d keep Tebow as a back up and let him learn from Manning.

    1. MrsJohnson says:

      Tebow’s young enough and man enough (read: little ego) to learn from someone else.

      1. WhatAboutFreedom says:

        We have much bigger issues. Unelected officials took over Washington and the media after the coup and cover up. Even most of the comments online are financed with your tax dollars. Big brother is trying to create the perception of public opinion while burying the truth. They think you can’t handle the truth. Fact of the matter is we have no democracy, president, and freedom of press is an illusion.

        Our next election is shaping up to be as big of a sham as the last. Do you know why Sarah Palin’s bus tour was really canceled? Do you know why she stayed 30 miles away from the second debate and chose the death of Steve Jobs to announce that she’s not running? Know what leaked out? Sarah Palin and Cain aren’t in the race for the same reason, the truth leaked out.

        Search PalinsDirtyLittleSecret for the biggest cover up in world history before it disappears forever.

        1. Matt Drudge says:

          WAF, aka David Axelrod, get the F out of here.

  30. mildmannered says:

    Is this still the lead 5pm news story? Really?

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