Peyton Manning was John Elway’s Ultimate Exit Plan

John Elway is the happiest person in the United States right now – not because of who he acquired, but the backlash he avoided.

Getting Peyton Manning was Broncos’ executive John Elway’s pubic relations dream.

Elway’s resistance to guaranteeing Tim Tebow job security beyond season’s end, despite his win total, shows Elway has no confidence in his tight end – err – quarterback.

But without Manning, Elway was caught in a serious PR catch 22. Let’s break it down by scenario before Manning agreed to negotiate:

Tebow starts, does poorly
Tebow’s stocky build and slow delivery are tangible flaws, and the fan base would argue the red flags are an inexcusable oversight for a co-owner who knows how to win Super Bowls.

Tebow starts, keeps winning
Until Tebow proves he can throw the ball, it doesn’t matter how well he does. Winning would suppress the Broncos quarterback debate, not squash it.

Tebow relegated to the bench, <insert quarterback here> does well
Does this new quarterback win at a rate better than Tebow’s 7-4 record? Can he prove he can throw the ball? If Elway’s new quarterback could keep this pace for a full season, it would be the co-owner’s best case PR scenario.

Tebow relegated to the bench, <insert quarterback here> does poorly.
This would be Elway’s worst case PR scenario. If you’re going to bench a quarterback that wins, you had better be right – which is why I think Tebow would have started the season as Broncos quarterback. It would have made the most PR sense, which unfortunately shows how the media has literally affected sports.

Peyton Manning’s presence takes an enormous weight off Elway’s shoulders. Even if Peyton Manning starts the season 0-4, Elway remains off the hook – it’s what any owner would have done. An 0-4 start with any quarterback other than Peyton Manning would unfairly put the Broncos owner in hot water.

Think of Peyton Manning as #2 Duke. No one will attack you for not picking Lehigh to advance to the round of 32.

Now the Broncos just need to find some wide receivers…