It was a very rough 2015 season for Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, as he finished with the worst passer rating in the NFL, missed several games due to injury, and was relegated to the bench upon returning. At 39 years of age, it certainly appears that Manning is nearing the end of his NFL career, and after being re-inserted into the starting lineup in week 17, Manning's Broncos are now in the Super Bowl.
NFL Films caught Manning telling Patriots coach Bill Belichick following Denver's AFC Championship game victory that it might be his final rodeo, and many expect the Super Bowl to be the final game of Manning's incredible career. According to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport, Manning has in fact told some close friends that he does indeed plan to retire and that this will likely be his final game.
It's not official yet and Manning has publicly said that he's simply taking things one game at a time, but it makes total sense that this might be his last game. Going out with a Super Bowl appearance (much less a Super Bowl victory) would be a storybook ending to the quarterback's 18-year career.
Manning is the NFL's all-time leader in passing yards (71,940) and in touchdown passes (539) and will without a doubt go down as one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of the game. He will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, so there's not much left that he has to prove. It would be great for him to go out with one more Super Bowl ring, but either way his legacy is cemented as an all-time great. But if he does indeed retire as it seems is expected, the NFL could look quite different next year without Peyton Manning playing quarterback.