Even with a different owner, Peyton Manning as Carolina Panthers president remains a great idea…
When David Tepper, a hedge fund billionaire and minority stake owner in the Pittsburgh Steelers moved from ‘the other major suitor’ to Carolina Panthers owner this week, it probably meant Charlotte won’t see Peyton Manning in a management role.
Potential buyer Ben Navarro said he’d want Manning as a part-owner and President of the team if allowed to purchase the Panthers and the idea certainly struck a chord. However, Tepper is well known in league circles although Carolina would have been pleased to have either gentleman representing the franchise as an NFL leader.
With a nod of recognition about why the Panthers sale is actually happening and Chief Operating Officer Tina Becker’s handling of personnel matters in the organization as a result, Navarro staking out the President-potential ownership question for the 42-year old Manning’s consideration would’ve been a big deal for everyone concerned.
When you’re selecting people you want in your foxhole or on any team imaginable, that intense 6-foot-5 guy named Manning is a good foot forward. If he wasn’t feeling ‘It’ about Cleveland with a similar management opportunity, that would be understandable but there were legitimate reasons and challenges for Manning to consider fashioning a WINNER tag for Charlotte like he did in Indianapolis.
All the records and a couple of those super-important rings are extra qualifications for such a move, although we’ll skip any karmic convergence about OWING us after Manning defeated the Panthers in Super Bowl 50 or that he’s done tons of entertaining commercials.
"Manning has skills that go beyond the thousands of ‘Omaha, Omaha!’ audibles of awareness he showed during his five-time MVP playing career."
Manning’s football legend as an achiever of the highest order is secure in all aspects and he’s done nothing but bring pride to every organization he’s been associated with. His reputation as a perfectionist — focused on specific, tangible results, taking extra snaps in practice even if just to get a handoff fake correct — is righteous for all achievers.
You’d have to take him seriously as a businessman — just days before the NFL dropped Papa John’s Pizza as an official sponsor, Manning sold the 31 franchises he’d accumulated while being their spokesman. Talk about beating a blitz — unloading that substantial a holding just before almost everyone else gets slammed is a timing element and Manning has skills that go beyond the thousands of ‘Omaha, Omaha!’ audibles of awareness he showed during his five-time MVP playing career.
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Does anyone doubt the underlying ethic of his Nationwide commercial with country music superstar Brad Paisley, where Manning grinds the details of a song? The Panthers first President, Hall of Famer Mike McCormack, whose statue stands outside the stadium with team icon Sam Mills, was a standard to which Manning could have rightfully aspired. Manning, who won his second Super Bowl in Denver because an executive named John Elway made a multi-million dollar decision on his recovery from neck surgery, has that kind of professional weight.
It would’ve been a dream scenario for Charlotte to come out of an organizational situation that was laid bare — just this past January, by a Sports Illustrated article’s revelations regarding Mr. Richardson’s alleged sexual and racist acts or commentary — as the reason for the team’s rapid moves towards this sale. To somehow be stronger than imaginable by summer, on the field and otherwise — around Charlotte, a lot of people would’ve called that a blessing.
Mr. Navarro’s willingness to plunk down the majority of a record $2.6 billion for an American sports franchise gives Charlotte a reason to feel good about itself. Not meaning any knock on Mr. Tepper’s leadership or bank account, but getting Manning as part of a deal with reallly good fortune — there was plenty to like about that idea.