When it comes to NFL football no one has watched more games and studied the game more than The Chancellor of Football. It has always been the great escape for me to study the players, analyze games, dissect teams and playing styles of different eras. I can think back to the early 80’s when someone was watching “The Cosby Show” in the other room, I had a ton of paper out drawing up the “46 defense” and studying Bears games I recorded over in mine.
If I didn’t have a football video game going, I was outside playing it with friends. All the while my mind was studying the nuances of the game. Then the study migrated to understanding the dynamics of coaches, the sociological aspects of football, the psyche of players, and the psychological make up of a team. What made the player tick…and why certain players received the coverage they did.
One of the real reasons I have been such a harsh Peyton Manning critic is the Alpha or Beta quarterback argument. He’s proven to be an alpha quarterback obviously but I wasn’t going to give him a pass because he was Archie’s son the way the mainstream media did. I have never been a media darling type. I abhor it. The reason I gravitated to sports and football in general from the beginning was the exploits the athletes made were earned on the field of endeavor. Not what someone made up for them like a Hollywood movie or covered favorably when others are tortured by media types for the same short comings. Take a look at this comment from Facebook earlier when I described Matt Schaub in yesterday’s article. The Beta Quarterback.
“To come off this list you have to start winning the big games. I knew Schaub would regress for one simple reason. He NEVER beat the bully on his block. The Indianapolis Colts own him and even retooled on the run. He NEVER bested the Colts in significant games while Peyton Manning was there and now a whole new regime is in place and he still hasn’t grown. Pundits started to pick the Texans as a possible Super Bowl team because of other talent on the squad. Truth is…he’s a beta qb until he proves it beating good teams like Joe Flacco did last year. Only one way past the bully…you have to kick his ass…. If you don’t, you remain in this twilight.”
Think back to Peyton Manning’s inability to beat Florida when he was at Tennessee. The Chancellor of Football watched “the next big thing” all throughout his college career. I still have the highlights recorded when he and Jay Graham powered past Eddie George, Terry Glenn and the 4th ranked Buckeyes in the Outback Bowl in 1996…yet I digress
The fundamental flaw to NEVER take down your bully on your block goes with you psychologically for a lifetime. That bully is just substituted later by other people. i.e. Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. Yet in his coverage the mainstream media wanted to “make” him a champion before he became one.
What got his career launched is he played with 3 Hall of Fame talents that didn’t get the credit for it. Marshall Faulk, Edgerrin James, and Marvin Harrison. Faulk, who in 1998 nearly had the same stats as he did when the St Louis Rams won it all in 1999. He had 1319 yards to go with 86 receptions and 908 more yards and 10 TDs. Sure a baby faced rookie Manning showed promise, but he threw a rookie record 28 interceptions. Yet you didn’t hear of that through the mainstream media. However Kurt Warner in 1999, who had never started in the NFL won the Super Bowl the following season with Faulk.
Marshll had been relieved of duty when the Colts traded him to the Rams to so they could draft Edgerrin James. In 1999, James became the first rookie to lead the NFL in rushing in nearly 20 years. In fact he joined Jim Brown, Earl Campell, and Eric Dickerson as the only runners to lead the league in rushing in their first two seasons. That is dating back to 1957. Yet all the coverage went to Manning as though Edgerrin wasn’t even there. James is one of only 3 running backs (Barry Sanders & Eric Dickerson) to have 4 seasons of over 1,500 yards rushing yet when we suggest he’s a Hall of Fame player, some scoff at the notion. Why?? All the coverage was on Peyton Manning and the mainstream media NEVER fed this information to the football masses. Never. He also went on to a Super Bowl without Manning with Kurt Warner ironically in Arizona 2008.
Then you have the quiet Marvin Harrison. Although the end of his career was somewhat shrouded with the backdrop of a gang related shooting death. This performer is the current record holder for receptions in an NFL season with 143 in 2002, and caught 1,102 passes for 14,580 yards and 128 touchdowns during his career. Just about the same as new Hall of Fame enshrinee Cris Carter, and finally we’re hearing about his Pro Football Hall of Fame candidacy. This was a #1 draft pick and All America talent at Syracuse catching passes from Donovan McNabb. Yet here is another that rarely received coverage because Manning was the national media’s end all be all when it came to covering the Indianapolis Colts.
The biggest issue is how the media chose to cover him as they thought he would be and not cover him fairly for how he performed. His first forays into the playoffs were underwhelming to say the least. In ’99 when they were the 2nd seed, they only managed 13 at home in a loss to the Titans. Three years later came the worst playoff loss of this millenia in a 41-0 loss to the New York Jets in the Meadowlands. Ironically the site of this year’s Super Bowl. They only gained 167 yards total in that game which was nearly a record low performance. Yet you never heard of these performances or the fact he has a record 11 playoff losses. Why?? Too much jock sniffing by the national media. Guys who wished they were Peyton Manning instead of just covering him.
Keep in mind he was favored in Super Bowl XLIV and fell behind the New Orleans Saints. Marching for the tying touchdown in the fourth quarter he threw the pick six to Tracy Porter to seal the Colts fate. What would the media have said had that been Eli Manning?? Tony Romo?? Jay Cutler?? They would have buried him like he was Rex Grossman. You have to keep in mind the NFL offices pay attention to media coverage. We saw how much sway media had when the Colts lost the 2003 AFC Championship 24-14 to Brady’s Patriots.
The immediate coverage was on how the Patriots held their receivers and stretched the 5 yard “chuck zone” further downfield. Complaints from the Colts were all over ESPN and dominated the airwaves leading into Super Bowl XXXVIII between the Patriots and Panthers. Ironically they set a Super Bowl record with both quarterbacks throwing for more than 300 yards for the first time in history.
That off-season the NFL stated they were going to reinforce that rule just because of the complaints from Manning and the Colts. No one was able to touch his receivers without a flag and ironically this was the season he broke Marino’s touchdown record of 48. Funny, he couldn’t come within 16 touchdowns of it in his 6 previous seasons.
The coddling of Manning and the favorable officiating is why the Broncos receivers are able to run pass interference routes at their leisure. Whenever you hear these announcers say “pick” its a form of offensive pass interference. Ironically the league hasn’t had a knee jerk reaction to reinforce those rules. So the record book has shattered from this.
The real problem here is it cheapens the record book and cheapens the league as a whole. Just like the Jordan rules ruined the NBA for purists, the same thing is happening in the NFL. What you’re doing is turning the sport into a television show. One where his games are officiated differently than other teams to manufacture a successful environment. Don’t tell me it’s a quarterback driven league when there are just as many who tune in for a stout defense or a record breaking runner. Then you hear the corporate types, who are wholly responsible for this, talk about ratings. Listen, in 1986 the Chicago Bears won Super Bowl XX in front of 120 million viewers. At the time on American television, the top 20 watched shows were 18 Super Bowls, the MASH finale, and Roots. The ratings have always been there, so come off that excuse.
Where Peyton Manning was / is concerned he’s given a pass for his flaws and celebrated for what he has done right as though it’s never been done before. Is he really better than Joe Montana when it comes to pre-snap reads?? He’s a better gun slinger than Dan Fouts?? A better deep ball than Terry Bradshaw or Johnny Unitas?? Is he better than Joe Montana at any aspect of quarterbacking?? I know he wasn’t better than Dan Marino in his prime. Yet you hear these pundits wax philosophical as though there is no footage of the 77 years of the NFL before his arrival.
Well here at Taylor Blitz Times, we do have tons of footage of all the greats. No, Manning isn’t the first who handled pre-snap adjustments. Audibles have been a part of the league for greater than 50 years. The one description I love is how he plays with what scouts call “nervous feet”, which was to a quarterbacks detriment. All of a sudden pundits helped change that to a positive attribute. Go figure. He is a Hall of Fame player but keep it in perspective from a historical sense. Everything happening today isn’t the greatest ever seen and make sure you cover players fairly for what they do. After all it is a sport, right??
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