No one can deny that Peyton Manning is a class act, and no one was surprised when he deflected questions Sunday after Super Bowl 50 about his future. He gave every unspecific indication that this was his "last rodeo," but he wasn't about to make the Denver Broncos' victory all about himself.
There will be plenty of time for that. He can go back to Denver for the parade and then decide on the appropriate timing for his official retirement announcement.
Perhaps it's remotely possible that he decides to play another season. He said during a postgame interview that he did not want to make an emotional decision, but he and everybody else know it's time for him to ride off into the sunset.
Of course, he isn't going anywhere either way. He's one of the most popular commercial pitchmen in the advertising world, and he's got all sorts of endorsement contracts that will be viable for the foreseeable future.
It wasn't a perfect exit scenario. He did not deliver a dominant performance against the Panthers and hoist the Most Valuable Player trophy after the game, but he definitely would be going out on top with a pair of Super Bowl rings and dozens of NFL single-season, postseason and career records.
He also would be the first NFL quarterback to win the Super Bowl in his final game since Hall of Famer John Elway, who brought Manning to Denver for just this kind of happy ending. He also gets to go out on a pretty cool round number, winning his 200th professional game (186 regular season, 14 postseason).
He endured a lot to come back from a serious neck injury and get into position to leave the game on his own terms, the way superstar Ray Lewis did after the Ravens won the Super Bowl three years ago.