Sunday, November 19, 2006
You can tell everything about a leader by how they react during moments of despair of defeat. Why everyone still appreciates John Elway and remembers him fondly is how he behaved despite getting slaughtered in 3 Super Bowls, only to keep his chin up and eventually finding a way to win 2 straight Super Bowls when he finally had a supporting cast. Elway exemplified the comeback, something he did more than any other quarterback before or since, in the regular season or playoffs, including that incredible "Comeback" in January, 1997 at Cleveland for his first of five Super Bowls.
The way Peyton Manning acts when things don't go his way leads me to think he's come as far as he's ever going to be to even playing in one Super Bowl. He whines, he points, he pouts. All despite having probably the two best receivers in the league in Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne. Yes, Dallas had an incredible game plan today in their win over the Colts. But the game just proved what you can do to a Peyton Manning team by simply punching him in the mouth a few times. He turns into the ultimate baby.
Seriously, I've never seen a more gifted quarterback act this way, and this dates back to his career at the University of Tennessee, a career marred by the fact that he could never beat rival Florida, he came back for his senior season with the idea of winning a Heisman he'd sadly lose to Charles Woodson because the entire media is in love with all things Ohio State and Michigan, and lay down so that Tom Osborne could win one more National Championship during both Manning and Osborne's last ever college games.
(The look on Peyton's face, when they announe Woodson as Heisman winner December, 1997, is one of the all-time moments and probably led to Bill Simmons' infamous "Manning Face". Why this isn't available on youtube.com right now is beyond me.)
(OH -- and before I forget, Bo Schembechler never won a single national title, he's been, as Keith Jackson said on Friday, "In trouble for quite some time", and his death didn't deserve the ESPN coverage that was Princess Di-esque, or at least in their case, TO swallowing 30 Vicodin-esque. My favorite Bo Schembechler memory: He tried to fire Hall of Fame Tiger announcer Ernie Harwell. Blah de fucking blah. Sorry for your loss Michigan, but this isn't as big a college football loss as say a Bob Devaney, who won two National Championships, encouraged a much greater rivalry in Nebraska/Oklahoma, and who's death I don't even think ESPN acknowledged because it didn't happen the day before a Nebraska/Oklahoma game. And there should be no rematch, despite the game on Saturday that wasn't as classic as everyone's making it out to be. Let Ohio State take on USC or Arkansas if they get to that point. Nobody outside of Columbus or Ann Arbor cares about Ohio State/Michigan anymore. Plus I'd love to see Pete Carroll and his white long sleeve shirt smack Jim Tressell in the mouth. Please let this happen.)
At any rate, I'm just completely disappointed in Peyton Manning, who's going to go into the Hall of Fame as one of the most prolific quarterbacks ever, as probably the greatest Fantasy Football Quarterback of all-time, but one who never gets a taste of the Super Bowl. I'm thinking this all goes back to Archie Manning, another quarterback who never came close to winning anything. It's obvious, especially from the way Archie handled Eli Manning before the 2004 NFL Draft, that both of these kids have been spoiled and coddled their entire lives to the point that neither can be counted upon to lead a group of men to the promised land. The Giants are already taking incredible heat for trading Philip Rivers in that draft for Eli. Peyton wants to point the fingers at the refs, other players, other obstacles, when things don't go his way.
Of course, Archie wound up in Canton, but was the face of the legendary "'Aints" football team. Peyton's biggest wins so far have been the last two years in New England and a few weeks ago when he brought his team back in Denver, in a game where I famously mocked his tourettes-esque audibles while hoping he'd make a 5-team parlay of mine come true. Three very big wins. But when shit goes bad, when shit is so not going his way, and more importantly, a stadium of wild fans is screaming against him, Peyton folds like the cheapest Winnie the Pooh indoor plastic tent built for five year olds. Peyton Manning has got to come to grips with his behavior in these moments in a big way right now. He's got to watch serious film of his behavior, and more importantly, since his father certainly won't do this, have somebody point out to him how negative an impact it has on everyone around him.
When Peyton and the Colts lost that AFC Championship Game at Foxboro a few years ago, Boomer Essisan famously went on the air and called Manning this generation's Dan Marino (with Marino present, no less). That's a huge insult to Marino. Dan Marino got his team to the Super Bowl and consistently took talent challenged teams to the playoffs. And all the while Marino never panicked. He may have never won the big won, but he at least got a shot at the title, something that may never come Peyton Manning's way.
If I'm Peyton and Eli, I start watching old film of John Elway, and focus on how he acted in both victory and defeat. John Elway eventually got to leave the game the ultimate winner. Unless the Manning boys, and in particular Peyton, can star picking a few things up from Elway and other predecessors, the Super Bowl is nothing but a pipe dream.
Posted By Dirtylaundry at 8:01 PM