Do it. Get him. Whatever must be done, however much the Redskins have to pay or promise to bring Peyton Manning to Washington, they should offer it. This is one instance in which Dan Snyder needs to be the Dan Snyder we used to know, the check-writer with a signature on the bottom flashier than a fountain.
Joe Theismann is wrong that it is a “horrific idea” to go after Manning. This isn’t some impulsive grab at a big-name jersey. Manning has absolutely nothing in common with the fat and happy Redskins free agent disasters of the past. “Haven’t we done this before?” Theismann asks. Actually, no. We are talking about a player who, even if his 36-year-old arm is weakened, will instantly elevate the team, franchise and by extension the entire city with his competitive character.
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Everyone has a different take on whether Manning will become a Redskin — Trent Dilfer says it’s “realistic,” while Theismann told Mike Wise on 106.7 The Fan, “It’s time to draft one of your own” — but one thing they all agree on is that it would be a high-stakes risk. Take it. Manning is well worth the biggest gamble in franchise history.
According to doctors, he is healed from neck surgery, and there is every indication he can regain his arm strength. The Indianapolis Colts owe him a $28 million bonus by March 8 or have to part with him, and owner Jim Irsay has signaled that he plans to make Andrew Luck the No. 1 draft pick, and go with the kid. But if you want to talk about a gamble, how about trying to figure out which “It Boy” coming out of college is going to be Hall of Famer vs. a bust?
Compared to the black art of trying to find a franchise quarterback in the draft, Manning is a sure thing. The two first quarterbacks chosen this spring will be Luck and Robert Griffin III, the Heisman winner from Baylor. There is at least a 50 percent chance someone will make a mistake with one of them. Here’s what a dice-roll drafting a quarterback is: The last time quarterbacks went 1-2 in the NFL draft was 1999. Donovan McNabb was actually the second player chosen. The No. 1 pick? Tim Couch.
The Redskins indeed need to “draft one of their own” at some point. But the stern reality is that their draft choice may not pan out, and it could take more than one draftee before they find their future. Consider the New York Jets, who are wondering just three years after taking Mark Sanchez No. 5 overall in 2009 whether they indeed got the right quarterback.
As Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan has said repeatedly in the past year about his failed hunt for a field leader, which led from the sluggish McNabb to the mulish Rex Grossman, “These guys don’t drop off trees.” The greats are rare, and within that category Manning is even rarer, a once-in-a-generation opportunity. He’s the record holder for league MVP awards with four, the single most accomplished, highest-quality free agent ever to hit the open market. This is no Dana Stubblefield, or Deion Sanders, or Jeff George. This is a player so exacting and intelligent and impactful that it’s hard to measure the uplift he gives a franchise.