Yes, I’m a biased New England sports fan who has rooted against Peyton Manning since I was a child. And yes, some of my dislike towards him is rather unwarranted. And finally, yes, I will look for any chance I can get to ignore his greatness and point out the fact that he isn’t a winner.
Let’s get everything out in the open before I even get to the meat of what I want to say in this post. Peyton Manning is in the top five for greatest quarterbacks of all time, if not in the top three. He has had everything you want in a franchise quarterback, he has been able to put up some serious numbers, and he saved the Colts from eternal irrelevancy and the Broncos from recent irrelevancy. He is a sure-fire Hall of Famer, and nothing short of a class act…
…BUT he cannot win, and he never has been able to win. He couldn’t do it at Tennessee, he did it once in Indianapolis, and he hasn’t in Denver. He fills every stereotype of putting up numbers from September through December and is often the main cause of his team’s demise in January. He has a pedigree that built his name even higher than it probably should’ve been. He was the first overall pick and he was handed the keys to the car- he’s never had to earn a starting job. He has always had not one, but two legitimate weapons at his disposal. And contrary to popular belief, he’s played with some rock-solid defenses. There, I said it, it’s all out in the open. He’s great, but he’s not better than Brady, Montana, and Elway (in that order) when you consider the entire body of work, as one must.
Anyways, Manning made lots of headlines this weekend. Of course, he broke Brett Favre’s career passing yards record on Sunday, which shouldn’t surprise anyone. He ended his day, however, in the third quarter of a blowout game, being pulled due to a coaching decision. He was 5 for 20, with 4 interceptions and no touchdowns. He looked awful; he looked old.
Fast forward to this morning, and ESPN has reported that Manning has a torn plantar fascia in his right foot, and apparently, he’s been playing through it. Now, I’m no medical professional. I don’t know what the plantar fascia is, what it does, or where it is on the foot. Quite frankly, I’m not interested in learning any of those either- I just imagine it’s painful, and I’ll leave it at that. Good for Manning for trying to tough it out, and to be honest, it’s a shame that what should be his last season will be remembered for being his most vulnerable year.
But honestly, can we stop making excuses for him? Like for one damn second? I understand that we in New England do the very same for our star quarterback; don’t lie for a second, Brady gets all the credit when the Patriots win, and none of the blame if they lose. If you disagree, chances are you’re one of them. Hell, I’m one of them. But Manning is a bit different. As I said, despite his other-worldly work ethic, he fits the description of a kid fed with a silver spoon. Son of an NFL quarterback from the richest neighborhood in New Orleans, going to the best prep school, top recruit and top draft prospect? That definitely is a sexier path to the NFL than a California kid who never really was an outright winner of the starting job at Michigan, and then was pick #199 in the draft, isn’t it?
I don’t doubt Manning’s injury is painful. But I find it almost funny that it comes out a day after Manning’s worst game in his career. I’m not saying he isn’t really hurt. I’m just saying that, while Brady was struggling last season, the possibility of injury never came up from the media, from fans, or from the Patriots’ brass. I think the mainstream media makes excuses for Peyton Manning. And I’m not alone in that belief. Let’s cut the crap with the Manning details, because that’s not the reason he’s sucked this year. It’s because he’s old, he has less weapons than he’s had the previous two seasons, and his arm is weak. He doesn’t have sideline-to-sideline arm strength anymore, and his ducks fly in the air longer than ever. It’s because his body is too slow to run the signature hurry-up offense we’ve become accustomed to. It’s not just because of his plantar fascia. Quit trying to hold out the hope that Manning isn’t a bad quarterback anymore, because if you’re on that bandwagon, you’re fooling yourself. Denver can make the playoffs with Manning under center, but they won’t win unless they have Brock Osweiler calling the shots. Ladies and gentlemen, Peyton Manning is done. He should’ve been done last year. He’s made the mistake of hanging around too long and playing too long, because our last sight of the great #18 is a struggling quarterback.