Lessons from Peyton Manning on when to let go and move on.

By Amber Hudson

Peyton Manning is arguably one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. Dump all you want on his “only one Super Bowl” (he’s won more MVPs that anyone else by the way), his attitude, work ethic and incredible skill are undeniable. So it is with bittersweet sadness that we watched the Broncos lose Sunday’s divisional-round playoff game to his old team the Colts.

Let’s face it, as talented as he is Manning is past his prime. The old bod can’t take much more: according to ESPN he played with a torn quadriceps on Sunday; this on top of a major neck injury that required 4 surgeries.

Every baby, from a new brand to an emerging sports god, eventual becomes a geriatric. What you do at that point is what matters: do you wallow in denial and lose a little dignity along the way (ahem, Brett Favre) or do you embrace this new chapter with class (Michael Strahan chumming it up with Kelly Ripa).

The owner of the Colts, Jim Irsay, saw this coming when he released Manning from the Colts in 2011 (after 14 years with the team) and brought in young superstar Andrew Luck…the man who beat him on Sunday. Seems cold given everything Manning did for that team, but Irsay saw the truth – it was time to move on.

Like sports stars, marketers are great at launching new things, but terrible at ending them when the time comes (Sears, Le Chateaux, Lincoln…can I just throw in Cher while we’re at it?). So here are the lessons:

  • Every problem is solvable. Be clear on the current situation and manage expectations.
  • Make sure you have people who will hold up the mirror and tell the cold hard truth so you can make the tough decisions.
  • And if your brand has run its current course, take a page from Irsay’s book: face the facts and create Chapter Two. And hope that you have an Andrew Luck in your portfolio.

If given the chance we’d shake Mr. Manning’s hand and ask him to please bring the same class to his retirement as he did to his first remarkable career…and start Chapter Two now.