Peyton Manning’s flirtation with the Arizona Cardinals

If the Arizona Cardinals had signed the signal-caller back in 2012 would it have brought an end to their championship drought?

Fans of the Arizona Cardinals were excited. After all, how often is it that one of the NFL’s all-time greatest quarterbacks is seriously considering playing for your team? That was exactly the case in March of 2012, when Peyton Manning flew to Phoenix to meet with team officials.

The Indianapolis Colts had released their long-time leader after 14 seasons. He missed the entire 2011 campaign after undergoing neck surgery. The surgery had reportedly weakened his throwing arm.

Amid reports that his arm strength had returned, a handful of teams sought his services. After the smoke cleared, Manning had narrowed the race down to two clubs, the Denver Broncos and Arizona.

The Cardinals put on a full-court press. Their head coach at the time, Ken Whisenhunt, and Manning had become friends when they met at a Pro Bowl. Whisenhunt hosted both Manning and Cardinals’ star Larry Fitzgerald for dinner at his home during the legendary quarterback’s visit to the Valley.

Manning had also met the owner, top executives and select members of the coaching staff. Chances were good that the organization was gonna be able to sign the future Hall of Famer. Even Las Vegas oddsmakers had made Arizona the favorite to land the veteran.

Close, but yet so far. As we all know, Manning chose Denver in the end. His four seasons with his new team yielded two Super Bowl appearances, with the Broncos winning one.

Would he have gotten a ring with the Cardinals? The Cards had a pretty solid roster at the time, except for the obvious weakness at quarterback. Manning throwing to Fitzgerald would’ve truly been something special to witness.

It’s exciting to think of the heights the team could’ve reached with the perennial Pro Bowler. Grand opportunities like the one they had in ’12 with Manning don’t come along very often. And quite possibly may never come again.

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