JERSEY CITY, N.J. --Sunday afternoon, Peyton Manning and Champ Bailey dismissed the notion of retiring if they win the Super Bowl, saying that it was a matter to be considered in the future, but not with the game lurking, their health good and their passion for the game intact.
A day later, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie took a different approach, acknowledging that he has considered walking away if the Broncos win Super Bowl XLVIII, and saying he was "somewhat" serious about the notion.
"I'm still thinking about it," he said. "You know, I had my fun in this league … (I've) got to weigh my options and see how I feel at the end of the season."
This was the sixth NFL season for the 27-year-old Rodgers-Cromartie. That's more than he thought he would play when he broke into the league in 2008 as a first-round pick from Tennessee State whose reputation surged after a stellar Senior Bowl week that year.
"Coming from a small school, you know all the talk, small-school guys aren't supposed to make it in the NFL and stuff like that, so you know with the league average being only 2-3 years, I gave myself five," he said.
Rodgers-Cromartie's initial contract with the Arizona Cardinal out of Tennnessee State was for five years. He played out the length of the deal -- including two seasons after he was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles -- before signing with Denver last March.
His one-year deal with the Broncos means he will become a free agent in the spring, unless the two sides can hammer out a deal before free agency begins at 2 p.m. MDT on Tuesday, March 11. But as he repeated throughout his press conference Monday, retirement is an option, and he said he's shared those thoughts with teammates.
"I talk with them about it all the time," he said. "It's not set in stone. They always think I am joking about it. I love those guys, I think I've earned their respect and they sure have mine."
Rodgers-Cromartie admitted there are no health reasons for him to retire.
"If at the end of the day, if I really think about it and that is my decision … then yeah. I've had my fun," he said.
If Rodgers-Cromartie retires, he has a notion of what he wants to do, saying that he wants to return to college to study psychology and become a guidance counselor.
"I'm still a young guy, not Champ Bailey being around for 14-15 years," Rodgers-Cromatie said. "I had a goal of playing 5 years and I reached that … so, however I feel after the game."
The pronouncement came after a season that was the best of Rodgers-Cromartie's career. With Bailey out for most of the regular season because of a foot injury, Rodgers-Cromartie filled the shutdown corner void, and has allowed just one touchdown in the last 14 games. According to ProFootballFocus.com, opposing quarterbacks have a 69.8 rating when throwing at Rodgers-Cromartie since Week 1. That rating drops to 47.5 for the Broncos' last 14 games.
"You can trust him. You know he's going to win his matchup," said defensive tackle Terrance Knighton. "He's highly competitive, and he's probably the most gifted athlete I've ever been around. He can jump over 40 inches, he runs a 4.2, and he can get out of bed and do that.
"Sometimes we watch him in practice and we're in awe by how quick he moves and the things he reacts to. When the whole side of the field is shut down, it makes things a lot easier for the defense, and I'm pretty sure Coach (Jack) Del Rio appreciates it, too."
But after Monday, the crucial question is, for how long will Del Rio and the Broncos be able to appreciate his work?