By Drew Markol, TSN Contributor - Archive - Email
Nobody asked me, but...
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - At what point should Peyton Manning run for President of the United States?

He's already old enough - you have to be at least 35 - and he's already insanely popular.

And now, an even larger swath of the country will adore and adopt him.

That's what happens when you join the Denver Broncos.

There is no team in the country with a larger geographical fan base than Denver. There can't be.

True, true, there are many teams, the Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Giants, Green Bay Packers, Oakland Raiders, that have fans, lots of fans, all over the United States and the world.

But by a sheer geography standpoint, nobody touches the Broncos.

For example, years ago, while on a cross-country road trip, a buddy and I pulled into an Applebee's or Bennigan's (I forget which) on a Tuesday afternoon in April.

We walked in and the place was wall-to-wall Broncos.

The entire restaurant was done up in orange and photos and memorabilia of John Elway, Terrell Davis, Shannon Sharpe, Lyle Alzado and on and on covered every possible inch of the walls.

For a Broncos fan, it was heaven.

Even better yet, you couldn't throw a potato skin without hitting somebody wearing an Elway jersey or talking about the Broncos.

And this was April.

But the real kicker? When I turned to my buddy and asked him how far we were from Denver (I had been sleeping in the car for hours), he said, "About 400 miles."

What? Really?

We're 400-something miles from Denver and this place is a shrine to the Broncos? Wow!

Living in the Philadelphia area, I thought about how many teams were in a 400- mile radius from me.

The Philadelphia Eagles, Steelers, Giants, Washington Redskins, New England Patriots, New York Jets, Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo Bills. Heck, the Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals and Carolina Panthers aren't too much more than that. Go 50 miles north or south from the 50-yard line at Lincoln Financial Field and you're in "enemy" territory.

But where Manning is now, the Broncos are pretty much it.

The Kansas City Chiefs are not exactly around the corner from the Mile High City. You also have the Seattle Seahawks somewhat close by (not really) and the Arizona Cardinals (not really, either), but not much else.

The Mountain Time Zone and the Broncos are brothers. Even though they're landlocked, that team is pretty much its own island, an island all to themselves.

That brings us back to Manning and what he'll do for an already rabid fan base.

If you thought Tim Tebow and the "Tebowmania" was big, just wait.

Now you have one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game doing his thing. Man, I'd love to be a Broncos fan right now.

Just look what Manning did for Indianapolis. His presence alone, according to the folks who study such things, raised the value of that franchise over $300 million.

Do you think Indianapolis would have been chosen to host the Super Bowl if Manning hadn't have been there bringing attention to the city? I'll guess at the answer and my guess is no.

The dude is solid gold.

How many teams can say one of their (former) players - Tebow - had the best- selling jersey going and then had another guy, Manning, replace Tebow atop the list?

OK, those jersey-sale numbers aren't out yet, but it won't take long for Manning's No. 18 in orange to become No. 1. Bet on it.

The Broncos were already pretty good. They won a playoff game with a quarterback - Tebow - who many believe is a backup at best. Perhaps a third- stringer for the Jets.

In Manning, they have a guy who will put up points and not go three-and-out over and over. Manning's offense will keep Denver's very good defense on the sideline resting. Never a bad thing.

Can he lead them to a Super Bowl win? Why not? They're not many teams you can say right now are better than Denver.

And if he does. And if brother Eli leads the Giants to a third Super Bowl ring one day, make him Peyton's running mate for president. Eli has the Northeast section of the United States covered and Peyton will have a huge chunk of the rest.

You never know.

Drew Markol has been a sportswriter and columnist for several newspapers in the Philadelphia area for more than 25 years.

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