Rooting Against the Robot – Peyton Manning

Yup, I’m on the ‘Who Dat?’ bandwagon. It’s not so much that I’m a fan of the Saints – though they are likable. And I really don’t buy the “great football team saves a city” angle. That storyline serves as a convenient cover for all that we haven’t done for that city and all the still sits neglected. Should the Saints win, I’m sure the feeling will be fleeting, and five months from now the city’s residents will still be struggling with the same problems, just without this fabulous distraction.

No, I’m rooting against Peyton Manning. I’ve never liked him. I hated all the hype when he was at Tennessee, all the advantages he has walked into, all the “Peyton Manning” faces he flashes when something goes wrong. And I hate that he is not human, but a cyborg created in his father’s basement

He is undeniably great, I concede. But he’s also undeniably lucky. He plays his first 10 years with the same center, two All-Pro wide-outs, a top-5 running back, and coaches that grant him carte-blanche (and rightfully so). He enters the league as it goes soft, saving him from his greatest weakness – contact. The one game in his career when he got smacked around, against Pittsburgh in the playoffs four years ago, he threw his offensive line under the bus. Then the league changed the rules in nearly direct response to his struggles, making it a penalty for defensive backs to look at wide receivers and making any contact with a quarterback a 15 yard penalty and a fine.

Yes, his timing was perfect. Imagine Manning’s career in the mid-1990s, or 1980s, let alone in the decades before. Back when it wasn’t a late hit unless you took more than three steps before bludgeoning the quarterback after he released the ball. Imagine him taking the hits that Joe Montana, Steve Young, Jim McMahon endured, or even those that Favre took in the first half of his career.

No, I don’t like him. Too perfect. Perfect arm, perfect field (turf), perfect timing, perfect team, perfect rules. Everything fell into place for Manning and it’s rarely mentioned how lucky he has been when commentators praise his greatness – that’s why I hope he falls tonight.