Solid week for John Elway.
Elway's more than just a figurehead. His transparent dealings with Manning and his patience -- not to mention their shared membership in an exclusive club of passing luminaries -- put Denver above the rest.
The way NBC's Tony Dungy sees it, Elway was the difference-maker.
"Something about Denver really attracted him," Dungy said on the Dan Patrick show on Tuesday. "Maybe it's just the tie-in with John Elway, the fact that we played out there so many times. He knows how passionate those fans are and what kind of team they have. ... In the end, it's where his heart was."
In his first-ever foray into free agency, Manning sought out Dungy, his former coach, for advice. Dungy said the two old friends spent time weighing his options, focusing heavily on team ownership philosophies.
The 49ers entered the race as a surprise candidate, but Dungy believes "it was going to have to be a knockout" punch for an NFC team to successfully land Manning.
"I always felt the AFC was going to, kind of, be the winner," Dungy said. "... No. 1, Peyton's a creature of habit, he's got so much familiarity, so much preparation looking at those AFC teams. ... No. 2... I think he felt if he went to the NFC, he'd be putting out one more roadblock in Eli's path to the Super Bowl."
All of this worked in Denver's favor, but Manning ultimately had to pick a team in which he could have faith. In Elway, he trusts.