Peyton Manning deal brings cheers, questions |

Peyton Manning deal brings cheers, questions

FILE - In this Sept. 26, 2010 file photo, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning (18) greets Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow (15) at an NFL game, in Denver. Manning is negotiating to join the Broncos, ESPN reported Monday, March 19, 2012. Citing anonymous sources, ESPN said that the four-time MVP has instructed agent Tom Condon to negotiate the details of a deal with Denver. (AP Photo/Greg Trott) MANDATORY CREDIT MAGS OUT TV OUT

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado – On the day after the first weekend of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, Manning Mania pushed March Madness out of its usual lead spot on cable sports broadcasts. Quarterback Peyton Manning coming to the Denver Broncos also has several Vail Valley fans ready for fall. Still, there’s some skepticism.

“I don’t like it, but (the Broncos) had to do it,” Jon Irvine said Monday afternoon at Bob’s Place in Avon. “Now they’ll have to trade (quarterback Tim) Tebow – I wish they could find a way to keep him.”

Irvine, who said he’s more of a Tebow fan than a Broncos fan, said he thinks the Broncos are making a mistake by giving up too early on Tebow. A few bar stools over, Chris Hurley agreed.

“Tebow’s still in process – it took John Elway a few years, too.”

But Avon resident Tom Backhus said Tebow’s run-first, helter-skelter style of play, while exciting, simply isn’t sustainable over a full season.

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Backhus knows a thing or two about football. He’s a former offensive coordinator and offensive line coach at the Air Force Academy, and for many years ran a football skills camp for high schoolers that often had current and former pro coaches and players as instructors.

“Tebow can’t hold up for a full season playing like that,” Backhus said.

Backhus also had questions about Manning’s decision to come to Denver, saying the Broncos have too many missing pieces – on the offensive line, in the running game and on defense – to be considered a serious championship contender.

“I’m amazed he picked Denver as a place to play, although I can see why he chose Colorado as a place to live,” Backhus said.

But Tim Baker didn’t have those reservations. Baker, these days the top executive at the Beaver Creek Resort Company, is a former wide receiver and special teams player who spent three seasons in the NFL, with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Carolina Panthers and the San Diego Chargers.

“This is a once in a century opportunity,” Baker said. (Manning) is a program-changer.”

While saying he’s a great fan of Tebow’s intensity and influence on those around him, Baker said Manning’s a good catch, too.

“Peyton’s great for the league, period… He’ll be great for Denver, too – he’s an incredible leader,” Baker said. The only player Baker played with who has similar physical and leadership skills is Drew Brees, who was in San Diego early in his career, then went on to win a championship with the New Orleans Saints.

And, with Manning taking snaps in Denver, the chances are the Broncos will be featured on more national broadcasts than they have in the past, and that’s good for Colorado, Baker said.

“Anytime there are national TV games, and people see the mountains it’s good for us,” Baker said. “Anytime any of the teams does well, whether it’s the Rockies or the Nuggets or the Avalanche, it’s great for the collective state.”

The TV images of the Rockies can have an effect when someone’s making travel plans, Baker said.

And, with Manning, the focus is likely to be on football – and his surgically-repaired neck – rather than everything else that came with Tebowmania.

But, Baker said, Colorado owes Tebow a debt of gratitude.

“He generated a lot of interest in the Broncos and Colorado – it couldn’t have come at a better time,” Baker said.

The crew at Bonfire Brewing in Eagle took advantage of Tebow’s popularity with “Tebrew,” a special barley wine that was ready to drink just as Tebow was leading the Broncos’ improbable run to the playoffs last season.

Brewery co-founder Andy Jessen wrote in an e-mail that Tebrew isn’t likely to return this year, no matter where Tebow ends up.

“We think that the concept behind it (beer as a social rallying medium), remains strong,” Jessen wrote. “We’re excited to see what a Manning-led team can do for Broncos football, and we wish Mr. Tebow the best should the rumors of a trade come to fruition.”

Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or

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