Last night Peyton Manning was inducted into the Football Hall of Fame. As a 21-year-old football fan, I grew up watching Manning, so this announcement came as no surprise. I found that this announcement did make me surprisingly sad. I quickly realized when reading the tweet by Adam Schefter that my first football generation is almost at its end.
Coming off the 2020 NFL season, Philip Rivers announced his retirement after 17 seasons in the NFL. Last year, Eli Manning, who gave two of the most memorable Super Bowls from my childhood, called it quits. A few years prior, Tony Romo decided to hang up his cleats, and this is just the beginning. There are rumors that Drew Brees could retire any day now, and over the next 2-3 years, more and more guys I grew up watching will cross their finish line.
And all the guys I have mentioned so far are only quarterbacks; this position tends to stay in the NFL longer than most, so when they finally retire, it feels like a huge event. But when all-time greats like Larry Fitzgerald, Rob Gronkowski, and Adrian Peterson retire, it will sting just as much.
There are only a few guys left from my first generation of football fandom, including Ben Roethlisberger, Aaron Rogers, Matthew Stafford, Matt Ryan and of course Tom Brady. They have been in the league for as long as I can remember; they are the faces of their respected teams. After all these years, they are still playing at an elite level, Big Ben starting the past season 11-0 and Tom Brady going to his 10th Super Bowl. They deserve their starting spots, and they continue to push the NFL forward, but time is catching up with them. And when their time comes, all that will be left is the new generation.
The new generation of the NFL has been nothing short of exciting, Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson have already changed the NFL forever in only a few short years. And more game changers are just around the corner, including Joe Burrow, Tua Tagovailoa, Jalen Hurts, and very soon Trevor Lawrence. The new generation is here, and they are not going anywhere. As much as it saddens me to say goodbye to my first generation of players, I cannot help but be excited for the explosive years to come. Thank you for all the memories, but it is time to welcome the new generation.