Peyton Manning! Savior of the Rocky Mountains!
The actual patron saint of mountain people is St. Bernard of Montjoux, who refused to marry and snuck away from the church on the day of his wedding and became a monk, then founded two hospices at a dangerous pass used by pilgrims heading to Rome:
In 1913 these hospices were renowned for the generous hospitality extended to all travelers over the Great and Little St. Bernard, so called in honor of the founder of these charitable institutions. At all seasons of the year, but especially during heavy snow-storms, the heroic monks accompanied by their well-trained dogs, the common herding dogs of the Valais ("St Bernards" are attested from the 17th century), went out in search of victims who might have succumbed to the severity of the weather.
That is where we get "St. Bernard" dogs and all those old 1930s cartoons of dogs with barrels of booze around their neck.
Will we one day have "St. Peyton Dogs" famed for their ability to find people with pinpoint accuracy, legendary for the way they never so much as go for a walk without three days' preparation, and renowned for how their own personal greed leaves their household in a shambles after they leave?
Probably, we will never have a dog breed named after Peyton Manning, although I see no reason our society should not begin to specialty-breed animals to name after celebrities; once the Pope has his own perfume , that celebrity-product category is played out, so what's left? Canis Celebritus is where we're headed, and I for one, cannot wait to own a Clooney. (Known for their ability to both playfully romp and be completely serious, the Clooney is a loner dog, very hard to breed.)
Last July, I pointed out that Peyton Manning's taking a completely unnecessary amount of money would cripple the Colts and made him a horrible person, both individually (because he doesn't need that much money) and professionally. I mentioned that while Peyton Manning was being lauded -- praised for taking "only" $90,000,000 (including $28,000,000 up front) -- a homeless man in Indianapolis had been beaten to death by teenagers, and that $100,000 per year from Peyton would have provided that man an excellent lifestyle while making not a dent in Peyton's pocketbook, because the difference between $90,000,000 and $86,100,000 is not a difference a human being can register.
Peyton is not completely devoid of charity, and I didn't mean to suggest that. He did, for example, give $500,000 in grants from his foundation, according to this article. (And got a hospital named after him for part of his giving, making him have more in common with St. Bernard than I originally realized.)(That $500,000 figure comes from several sources, and is apparently what Manning's foundation gave away in 2005.)
To put that $500,000 in perspective, though, let's compare some numbers. Peyton Manning's net worth, according to Celebrity Net Worth, is $115,000,000. $500,000 is 0.4% of his net worth.
To compare that level of charitable giving, consider that the median household income in America is $49,000. If those people gave at the level Peyton does, they would contribute $196 per year.
$500,000, in other words, is pocket change to Peyton Manning, whose charity does not exist solely on his money; some of the events it hosts are fundraisers, so Peyton Manning (whose net worth equals 2,036 times the median household income for Colorado) had a hospital named after him because he (metaphorically) dropped a few coins in the red bucket.
Nobody needs to earn that much money. It's selfish and greedy and his taking more money from Colorado is an insult to humanity -- and will now begin to hurt the Broncos the way Peyton's greed decimated the Colts.
The Colts devoted 20% of their cap space to Peyton Manning last year; his absence showed as the Colts became the worst team in football due to a lack of depth at every single position. That meant that the Colts got the 1st pick in the draft, which meant that Jim Irsay was required to take Andrew Luck, just as that NBA executive had to draft Greg Oden, despite the fact that all NBA execs knew he was a bust. It doesn't matter if someone is good or not; if the fans want him, you have to draft him or you'll go the way of that Texans executive who skipped over Reggie Bush.
Which meant that when Peyton tearfully said goodbye to Indianapolis, he was finishing the last act of an especially ironic Greek play; had there been a chorus singing
He laid the seeds of his own tragedy
And reaped the path he now must walk
Among the wheat of sorrow
Grown high with buckets of gold
It couldn't have been more fitting. (I wrote that myself; it rhymes in the original ancient Greek. Go ahead and translate it if you don't believe me.)
Gone but not forgotten: Peyton's legacy lives in on Indianapolis because he will still count $10,600,000 against Indy's cap this year, 1/12 of the entire salary cap the team will have (the cap being $120,000,000 or so.) That's going to make it harder for the team to sign quality help to give Luck a boost in his first year or two, and doesn't bode well for the season. (Moving into a previously-great team with a new coach and no talent and cap problems, Andrew Luck? Call Alex Smith for advice, and start thinking about what team you want to play for next.)
But Manning will also be hurting the Broncos-- he's a team player, and while his loyalties and cap hit may still linger in Indy, he's looking ahead to bringing down his new team for years, too.
On March 11, the Broncos had $44,000,000 in cap space going into 2012 -- about 1/3 of the cap was available for free agents. Nobody has yet looked at the cap hit from Manning's $96,000,000 contract, but sources report he's guaranteed $18,000,000 for the first two seasons each, provided he passes a physical at the beginning of each season. If Manning counts $18,000,000 against the 2012 cap, he will take up 15% of Denver's cap space this year alone -- and will have used up nearly 50% of their free agency money.
Maybe they need free agents. Maybe they don't. Denver was a playoff team last year, after all, with the much-maligned Tim Tebow. Maybe having Peyton throwing to receivers will be all it takes to move the team from first-round winner to the Super Bowl. Maybe. Pro Football Focus graded Denver's offensive line at 30th at the end of last season. I didn't see where they'd signed one this offseason -- who had time, what with chasing Peyton around the country? -- and while the Mile High Report said there were bright days ahead for the Broncos offensive line, it may be that the offensive line has a harder time defending an immobile pocket passer than it did defending a guy who is essentially a second running back.
My own prediction? Peyton Manning's next two years look a lot more like the last two years of Brett Favre's career, or the last two years of Donovan McNabb's career, than they do the last two years of Aaron Rodgers' or Drew Brees' career. Manning will make the playoffs in 2012-2013 -- that's virtually a guarantee, given how terrible the rest of his division is, and that no doubt accounted for his decision on where to go; a guy who has benefited from playing in the Colts' division all his career knows the importance of being a division winner in achieving success. But he's not going to make anyone forget John Elway.
Still, one thing is for sure: Whatever Manning does, his impact will continue to linger over the Broncos, the way his shadow is still falling on the Colts. But considering that Manning has, since 2004, signed 3 contracts all worth more than $90,000,000, it's disappointing that his legacy as a football player is to leave teams in ruin, and it's even more disappointing that his legacy as a beloved rich man is to sprinkle his pocket change around.