Peyton Manning has divided critics after his team’s abysmal performance at Super Bowl 48.
In the space of a few hours Manning’s stock went from heralded golden icon to ruined choker. All of these post-game character assassinations are incredibly harsh on him though.
Manning is not only one of the greatest QB’s of all time but he is that in an age where we’ve had an almost yearly accolade bestowed upon people, that of “elite” quarterbacks.
Let me just list you some names apart from Manning that are constantly referred to in elite status from the past decade alone: Brett Favre, Tom Brady, Eli Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger, Drew Brees, Joe Flacco…
Admittedly, some of them are only there because they've won a ring, or two. But you can say that as far as QB quality goes, this is as strong a line up of players as you could imagine in such a short space of time.
So whilst everyone is correct in saying that Manning couldn't win the big game after a huge record breaking season, the assumption that his reputation is dented because of this loss is absolute rubbish.
Just even taking aside the romance of his comeback from injury, he’s proved himself at a completely new team in a new set-up and set of physical circumstances in Denver.
In the most recent rules of the game, only Kurt Warner has been arguably as successful in switching teams. But even then he doesn't have the numbers or consistency that Manning has achieved. An ageing Favre wasn't as productive as him and you have to go back to before the 21st Century to find a QB that has been.
Manning’s playoff career record is 11-12. That means in the 15 years he’s been playing professional football he’s played in 23 playoff games.
Everyone is asking if he is embarrassed by the performance. And as a 37-year-old veteran you have to be. But part of his character and the fact that he is consistently in these games means one thing...
He doesn't have time to be embarrassed.
Of course he is but as a professional athlete and especially one as successful as Manning, you cannot dwell on any of these losses, you must look to the victories.
Manning will be back next year. And the next. And the next. And as long as his body will allow him to because he is a consummate professional and a class act. Just ask Richard Sherman.
You have to argue that Manning was out played because he was perfectly sussed out by Seattle and that others could jump on this tactic next year and ruin any chance of him returning to the playoffs.
But Seattle are a vastly talented team and have proved as such in the result from the Super Bowl. Others will not find demolishing the Broncos so easy during the regular season.
Admittedly, from age, injuries and some performances alone, twilight must be coming for the likes of Big Ben, Manning, possibly Brady.
But the reason we keep talking about these names over those of Romo, Sanchez, Rivers and Ryan is because they are really elite impact players who can bring it out of the bag when it matters.
And until I see Manning in front of a camera throwing in the towel and calling time on his spectacular career, I know I will see him in the post-seasons to come.
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