The Peyton Manning saga approached an end Monday when he selected Denver as his new football home.
The Bears had no choice but to be on the outside looking in at the process. "Jay is our quarterback," so to speak.
Meanwhile, I kept thinking that this isn't any fun.
Having your quarterback in place is preferable during the season. During the off-season it's more entertaining to be searching for one.
Wouldn't it have been interesting to ponder whether the Bears had a better chance to win a Super Bowl next season with Manning than with Jay Cutler?
Just imagine if Bears head coach Lovie Smith's incumbent quarterback still was Rex Grossman. Or if Jason Campbell was the old starter instead of the new backup. Or if Kyle Orton still was the guy, or Cade McNown was, or Bob Avellini was.
The clamor would have been for the Bears to move up in the draft to acquire Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III. If that were unrealistic, the outcry would have been to pay whatever necessary to sign free agent Matt Flynn.
Most of all, though, the public would have demanded that the Bears leap wallet first into the Manning sweepstakes. For weeks, emotions would have bounced from encouraged to discouraged to optimistic to pessimistic to elation to disappointment to whatever the response to whatever the final outcome turned out to be.
Look at how the town responded to the trade for Brandon Marshall, a mere wide receiver.
This guy is the pass catcher the Bears' have waited for forever … new general manager Phil Emery is a genius … wait, Marshall is a low-character, high-risk menace … Emery is going to populate the Bears with bad actors … Marshall will be an asset to the community … no, don't let this troubled athlete move in next door to me …
Fun stuff like that.
Elevate the debate to the level of a quarterback and it would make the Romney-Santorum sniping seem like an interfaith prayer summit. Now elevate it to the level of a quarterback like Peyton Manning and the thing could become a street fight.
The Bears are blessed to have Jay Cutler after all those decades of waiting for a real quarterback to fly into O'Hare.
I'm just wondering out loud and in print and on the Internet what it would have been like the past month if the Bears still needed to fill Sid Luckman's black high-tops.
Along with that goes curiosity over whether the Bears would be better with Manning than Cutler next season.
So many teams -- the Broncos, Cardinals, Dolphins, Titans, 49ers and Broncos among them -- thought that despite a surgical neck Manning is better than the QBs they have.
The Bears? They believe they have a chance to get to the Super Bowl with Jay Cutler, but does that mean it's a better chance than if they had Peyton Manning?
In Manning you would have a proven multiple-time league MVP, two-time Super Bowl qualifier and one-time champion.
In Cutler you would have a great arm, outstanding mobility and what remains only the potential that hasn't won anything significant yet.
You might be better off with Manning teaming with a good defense and running game. You might be better off with Cutler behind a shaky offensive line and with his old buddy Marshall.
During the off-season, it's fun to ponder these issues.
So, how about the Bears pursue Tim Tebow now?