Living in the Phoenix area can really suck the enjoyment out of football. At least if you happen to be the type that like to root for the home team. I don’t really give a rat’s ass about the Cardinals though, I have always been a Cowboys fan. That began to change about the time that the receivers were featured more often on the 5 o’clock news for drug possession than yardage.
Prior to this morning I had watched less than one complete half of a game all season. The matchups have just sucked all year. Not that today’s matchups should have been any better. My viewing options were the 4-9 Cardinals @ 2-11 Texans, or the 8-5 Chargers @ undefeated Indy. I wouldn’t have watched either of them except I happened to check the scores at the half to see that the Cardinals were losing (as always) but Indy was down 13-0 as well. I had to watch the second half of that one.
I have an irrational hatred for Peyton Manning, there is absolutely no logical reason why (thus it is irrational, though all hatred is irrational when it comes down to it). My beef with Manning is that he isn’t that good. His dad was one of the best to ever play the game, and had to do it with one of the shittiest teams ever. Peyton got into a damn good college program based more on his lineage than his talent, has always been surrounded by excellent players and has never really had to prove himself. He manages to throw up some tremendous numbers because he has one of the best running backs in the game, a great offensive line, as well as a couple of receivers that seem to have sticky tape for hands. Hooray for Peyton.
The very second the game actually matters though he folds like a cheap suit. Once he reaches the playoffs he looks like he is straight out of a High School JV team. He just can’t win when it matters. His QB rating drops like a stone in big games, yet everyone still seems to think he is great. Perhaps someday he will be but he sure as hell isn’t now. It kind of reminds me of something that Shaquille O’neal said prior to the Lakers run, he said that he had won championships at every level “Except college and the Pros”. Probably at least 25% of the US population could make that same statement.
So it was that I watched the second half of the game today hoping beyond hope that San Diego could put a stop to Indy’s undefeated season. They did, but it seemed they were trying to give it to Indy several times. Brees threw an interception and fumbled in the third quarter, both resulted in Indy scores. San Diego committed so many fouls that I lost count, though I do know that they got fouls on three consecutive plays at one point. If not for their defense, and a couple of clutch plays late, San Diego would have given it to Indy just with the penalties. Thankfully they managed to hang on and make a couple of huge plays when they needed to.
That all being said, I have to say that I took away from the game a sliver of respect for Manning. I don’t know that he was ever upright to watch one of his receivers make the catch. The Charger’s defense just seemed to walk through Indy’s offensive line at will and made Manning pay for every pass he completed. Not baby taps either, we’re talking pound him to the turf/sandwich him hits. He stood in there and took it, and still managed to complete some pretty amazing passes. Though the passes wouldn’t have been amazing were it not for his receivers ability to turn on a dime and chase down the ball. Even the part of me that irrationally hates Manning was feeling a bit sorry for the guy by the end of it.
That was a very entertaining game to watch, in the fourth quarter especially. I can’t remember being that emotionally involved in a game in a long time, which is saying something since I don’t actually like either of the teams involved. I just wanted San Diego to win so badly because I don’t think Indy has any right to go undefeated. If Joe Montana couldn’t do it with the best 49ers team, if Marino couldn’t do it with the best Dolphins team, if Staubuch couldn’t do it with the best cowboys team, if Namath couldn’t do it with the best Jets team, well you get the idea, then certainly Manning has no business doing it with the Colts.
I guess I should mention that I think people put way to much stock in every quarterback. Take the 49ers for example. Montana was out, Steve Young was in, everyone said there was no way anyone could compare to Montana, but Young had the same group around him and was able to go quickly from rookie to champion. My beloved Cowboys had quite a run in the ’90s with Troy Aikman at the helm, but they also had Michael Irvin, Emmit Smith, Moose Johnston, Jay Novacek, and one of the best offensive lines in the history of the game. More recently, the Cardinals sent Jake Plummer to Denver since he seemed to be pretty inept as a QB, but, the second he got somewhere with a running back, an offensive line, a tight end and a couple of receivers he is looking like pro bowl material. Which is why Peyton’s dad (Archie) was such a great QB, he got all of his numbers playing with an expansion team and never won anything.
Put Peyton Manning on the Texans team and see if he can continue to produce the numbers he is now, then, then I tell you, I will give up my irrational hatred of him. For now I was happy to see his bid for an undefeated season dashed, and eagerly await his forthcoming playoff meltdown.