Five things I learned during the NFL season opener:
1, Peyton Manning still plays a little football, too
You know that guy from the DirecTV spots? The one who lives on Madison Avenue and inside the pages of Forbes magazine? Funny thing about him -- Peyton Manning also plays quarterback for the Denver Broncos. And he's still pretty good.
Manning pitches so many products that I half expected him to show up behind center wearing a Buick patch on his jersey, a Papa John's apron around his waist and a Gatorade lightning bolt shaved into his head.
Instead, Manning simply showed that he remains an elite quarterback in this new age of Kaepernicks and RGIIIs.
Manning, and his pre-snap "Hurry! Hurry!" commands and classic pump fakes that freeze safeties like leftovers at Thanksgiving, passed for a mind-blowing seven touchdowns in Denver's 49-27 win over the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens. Performing at that level, I would have had no problem if Manning skipped out on the locker-room pep talk and performed his "Football On Your Phone" rap for the halftime entertainment.
Manning, at 37, is only one year younger than John Elway when he became the oldest starting quarterback to win a Super Bowl. If he can continue this mastery, then I'd expect old man Manning to get another ring -- and more endorsements.
2, People love David Lee Roth more than Sammy Hagar
It's hard to be the guy who replaced the lead singer in Van Halen. And it's even worst being the guy who takes the place of former Ravens Ed Reed and Ray Lewis.
Like 'The Wire' and crab cakes, Reed and Lewis are Baltimore institutions. They're gone now -- Reed bolted for the Houston Texans and Lewis gave himself to retirement and Super Bowl conspiracy theories. They've been replaced by less flamboyant fill-ins.
Players like Michael Huff, James Ihedigbo and Daryl Smith are the Sammy Hagars on that Ravens' D and judging by this Week One performance, Baltimore must be longing for that bygone era of "Jump" and "Just A Gigolo."
3, Like the Real World/Road Rules spin off series, the NFL will never die. Never
Nobody does dysfunction like the National Football League. And yet, we still love football.
The league recently agreed to pay millions for screwing up its former employees. It's biggest offseason story centered on a Patriot tight end in the middle of a mob-style murder case. And even during the build up to this monster matchup in Denver, the Broncos battled bad PR as their star linebacker Von Miller earned a six-game drug suspension.
Even so, we still worship football.
Clueless replacement referees can blow calls. Former players can sue the league for workers' compensation. Aaron Hernandez can collect felonies. And guess what? The NFL will still reign supreme in the pantheon of American sports.
The expectation for this new season's kickoff began just as the last confetti fell in New Orleans back in February. So, short of Bane walking towards the stadium's south end zone on Thursday night, snapping the neck of a nuclear physicist and threatening the people of Denver with a fully primed neutron bomb, I can't imagine anything slowing down this beast we call football. The sport, as well as the league, is bulletproof.
4, Julius Thomas should be on your fantasy team
After Denver's second touchdown of the first half, play-by-play announcer Al Michaels did not sing the praises of Peyton Manning. Instead, Michaels bellowed: "Julius Thomas! The man of the hour!"
Thomas, the Portland State product, surprised many as the leading man with two touchdown catches. While other Denver receivers would have been the easy picks to have big games, Thomas emerged from obscurity. Even in the eyes of the announcing team.
"Who is that?" analyst Cris Collinsworth said about Thomas, speaking on behalf of most of America.
Although Thomas had a rough start -- he dropped Manning's first attempt of the game -- his highlights beat those of teammates Wes Welker and Demaryius Thomas.
5, Always watch out for the undrafted rookie
Brynden Trawick would have wanted a better way to get his name in the paper.
The Ravens lost their season opener as well as one of their top weapons when Trawick, the undrafted rookie from Troy, collided with Jacoby Jones on a punt return.
Jones, his focus intently on the ball, called for the fair catch when Trawick inexcusably knocked him to the turf. Jones left the game with a sprained knee and did not return.
Trawick may be new to the league but already has discovered his reckless streak. During the first preseason game, Trawick was reportedly fined $21,000 for a blindside hit against a Tampa Bay player.