Jokingly or not, that continued Wednesday night on The Tonight Show where Manning appeared alongside Los Angeles sports power broker Magic Johnson. Johnson, a part owner of the Dodgers, is already locked in on his Rams season tickets and would like to see Manning under center.
“I tried to talk somebody out of retirement and come to the Rams,” Johnson said, pointing at Manning. “I said, ‘Man, if you play again, come to the Rams.’ I was working on him backstage. I would even chip in some money.”
He added: “Look, look, look. He’s turning a few colors.”
Manning, for his part, played the aw shucks role he’s been perfecting for the better part of two decades. He said ‘I’m getting embarrassed’ and ‘Keep the camera on magic!’ while Johnson rhapsodized about an NFL team coming to his backyard.
The big upset here would be if this conversation was entirely organic. The amount of pre-planning that goes in to even the most tired of bits is mind-boggling, but it will be interesting to figure out where Manning goes from here. He had an opportunity to walk away after the Super Bowl and a chance to do it after the team’s parade. All the while, players and teammates suggest Manning is not done, and Manning’s own father, Archie, would only say that he thinks Manning is done in Denver.
All of this leads us to believe one of two things:
1. Manning really doesn’t know whether or not he wants to retire and will wait another few weeks before making a decision. Perhaps, with opportunities like the one in Los Angeles, he’s mulling the chance to be the face of a rebranded franchise and prove to everyone that 2015 wasn’t all he had left.
2. He knows, and he’s just savoring the final moments, including the times when — jokingly or not — people are still begging you to play.