Sunday, March 18, 2012

Is Peyton Manning Who We Thought He Was? Part III

The San Francisco 49ers and the Tennessee Titans have entered the Peyton Manning sweepstakes.  The Denver Broncos remain competitive, but if you read Part I and Part II of this article then you know I'd be surprised if Manning elected to play for the Denver Broncos.  Mainly due to their lack of offensive weapons and rumored willingness to release Tim Tebow if they signed Manning.  On the other hand the Denver Broncos have Hall of Fame and multiple Super Bowl winning quarterback John Elway as their GM, which makes them competitive.

My theme here has been that culture and character matter for Peyton Manning with regards to where he will choose to play the remainder of his career.  With that, I was the first to predict that the Miami Dolphins had a slim chance of signing Peyton Manning due to character issues surrounding Brandon Marshall.  That seemed to be correct.  I felt that the Arizona Cardinals were the favorites due to the character, leadership and skill set of Larry Fitzgerald, although I pointed out that they were weak on the offensive line.  The Cardinals didn't feel they were the favorites because they withdrew themselves from consideration earlier this week.  So I guess I'm 1 - 1.

This series has taken on a new complexion since my Arizona Cardinals, Dennis Green - aka "the Bears Are Who We Thought They Were" theme is no longer relevant.  I admit that the information regarding the Denver Broncos releasing Tim Tebow was speculation and hasn't been reported again.  So either the Broncos changed their minds or it wasn't true.  So here we are with the 49ers, Titans and Broncos in full contention for Peyton Manning's services.

As of today, it seems the San Francisco 49ers are the favorites.  Last season the 49ers were one game away from going to the Super Bowl.  They have the best defense in the NFL.  Their head coach, Jim Harbaugh, was a good NFL quarterback and has a reputation for being a great coach of quarterbacks and a great coach in general.  In addition, the 49ers recently signed receivers Randy Moss (future Hall of Famer) and Mario Manningham (starter on last year's Super Bowl winning New York Giants).  It's also interesting that Alex Smith, the 49ers starting quarterback, has yet to sign a contract and is visiting with the Miami Dolphins today.  Alex Smith is considering changing his agent, who is also the agent of Peyton Manning, because of the conflict of interest.  If the 49ers didn't feel they had a good chance of signing Manning, then they probably would've re-signed their starting quarterback.

Peyton Manning doesn't know how many years he has left in the NFL.  The most logical decision would be to sign with the San Francisco 49ers.  However, there is a wild card.  There's a good chance that if Peyton Manning plays for the San Francisco 49ers, then the road to the Super Bowl would go through the New York Giants, where his little brother Eli Manning is the quarterback.  On the flip side, if Peyton chose to remain in the AFC, then he still may have to face his brother Eli in the Super Bowl.  Not sure the Manning brothers meeting in the NFC Championship or the Super Bowl makes much of a difference to them.  Either way it will be dubbed the "Manning Bowl" and would be a media frenzy.

What's most interesting about these recent developments is the commitment NFL teams have for competition and winning the Super Bowl.  For some teams, everything revolves around winning the Super Bowl and a failure to do so means ownership, coaches and players could be replaced.  The San Francisco 49ers were one game away from the Super Bowl.  They had a better season than 28 out of 32 NFL teams, and arguably the biggest turnaround from the previous year.  Alex Smith resurrected his career and had the 9th best passer rating in the NFL.  He's also only played 7 seasons in the NFL, compared to Peyton Manning's 14.  Yet, the 49ers are willing to lose him because Peyton Manning gives them a better chance to win a Super Bowl next year.  Who gives you the best chance to win 3, 4, 5 years down the road is irrelevant. 

In the NFL competition drives everything.  As a result there is almost perfect organizational alignment when it comes to expectations for players, coaches, owners and fans.  In business, at times, competition takes a back seat in recruiting, performance management, employee and labor relations, and other business decisions due to what many perceive as fairness.  I'm not saying that's wrong.  I'd just like to point out the misalignment that occurs as a result.  How important is competition and organizational alignment in your company?  We know how important it is in the NFL.

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