by Stal Herz - 01/18/2006
We all saw Peyton Manning out there last weekend leading his team back to within a 47 yard field goal of overtime. He did it. He performed the miracle everyone was waiting for. But once the ball was out of his hands, his fantasy collapsed into a horrific reality for the Colts Super Bowl hopes.
While twitching and rocking on the sideline waiting to see if Troy Polamalu's interception was going to be overturned, you could see that Manning was shocked at his imperfection.
There is no debate as to whether or not Manning is creeping towards being included amongst the greatest quarterbacks of all time. While not yet close to Elway, Marino, Young or Montana, he is the face that the NFL wants representing its product. Now there are a couple of things that go with being a glamour boy in the NFL, and I guess one of them would be a double standard.
While everyone is talking about how Manning choked in the big game, his 290 yards, a touchdown and a 2-point conversion were decent enough numbers to put up against a tough Steelers D in the playoffs. Manning wasn't the one who gave up the early 14-point lead. The kid was born to be a quarterback and he played like a star.
He also behaved like one.
Just like Terrell Owens, Randy Moss or Allen Iverson does.
Only thing is that when Randy does something like moon the fans after a touchdown, the announcer calls his actions "disgusting" and he is reprimanded for not being a team player.
What do you call it when you call off your coach's decision and decide to go for it? Where was the outrage from the announcers about the disrespect shown to Tony Dungy? Didn't that action go against every piece of football etiquette there is? How is Dungy ever going to have 100 percent confidence from his players again?
There was little mention of that by the sportswriters. No mention of Manning's arrogance or selfishness. No talk of how thousands of kids were watching that and will no doubt call off their coaches and go with what they think works best for the team.
During that final drive, Manning went for the deep bomb as if he were sitting down with Eli in front of the Play Station. He believes it is only him that makes the team great. You know what? He's right. He has to think that. His name is mentioned more than the team's is, so there is no surprise when any athlete starts to think this way.
How this is interpreted and digested by the public is another matter.
His role model status was never attacked because that would mean a loss of a hero in an NFL marketing campaign that has already created enough villains.
When he asked for his comments after the game, he steadied himself to say "I don't want to be a bad teammate. Let's just say we had some problems in protection." Didn't Terrell get blasted and his quote repeatedly peppered across sports shows for weeks when he made similar disparaging remarks about McNabb not getting the job done?
Manning was not trashed for anything other then he couldn't win the big one. His character was never questioned. I remember one rant of Terrell Owens' when he was with the 49ers, walking up and down the sideline yelling "Who can catch a touchdown? ME! I can. Terrell can. I love me some of me. I LOVE me some of me."
When Owens says something like that, he's called a selfish player who puts himself and his own wants above those of his teammates. When Manning does it, well, that's just good 'ol Peyton being brash. The fact is that all these athletes must develop an ego like that if they are to transcend what a normal human can do.
Next time you watch a game, play close attention to the language the announcers use to describe what different players do. Is there a trend? Is race playing an issue? You make the call as to which players are being called SELFISH and which are being called aggressive.
Because so much time is spent watching, reading and talking about sports, the portrayal and perpetuations of stereotypes can seep into the conscious of a culture quite easily, which is why we must stay aware of what is being served.
See you next year Peyton. You too Terrell. The two of you should get together during the offseason. You have a lot in common.