I want to share a little story with you. Let’s pretend there are two college football players. Both players are four-year starters at schools that consistently compete for conference and national championships. They play during the same era, in fact they go to rival schools that play each other every single year.
Let’s say they have stats like this:
Year 1 – 58.2 completion percentage 2230 yards 22 TD 10 INT
Year 2 – 62.3 completion percentage 1754 yards 18 TD 9 INT
Year 3 – 64.6 completion percentage 3266 yards 35 TD 10 INT
Year 4 – 57.5 completion percentage 3625 yards 39 TD 13 INT
Year 1 – 61.8 completion percentage 1141 yards 11 TD 6 INT (only started half the year)
Year 2 – 64.2 completion percentage 2954 yards 22 TD 4 INT
Year 3 – 63.9 completion percentage 3287 yards 20 TD 12 INT
Year 4 – 60.4 completion percentage 3819 yards 37 TD 11 INT
Looking at those stats, depending on what variables you value in a quarterback, you could probably go either way. If you value yards and touchdowns, it’s Player A. If you prefer fewer interceptions and a higher completion percentage, it’s Player B.
Now what if I told you that Player A absolutely dominated Player B in their head-to-head matchups? What if I told you he dominated him to the tune of a 3-0 record against him and a 4-0 record against his school? Not only does Player A own Player B head-to-head, he wins every possible award over Player B during the years both players are eligible. Player A is first team all-conference, first team all-American, wins the Heisman his junior year, wins the conference championship over Player B every season he starts, wins a national championship in his junior season and plays for a second as a senior. During this time Player B does none of those things. In fact, he doesn’t beat out Player A for a single award that both are eligible for.
Imagine also that Player A is a model student, devoted man of faith and is so charitable that an annual award for community service, citizenship and student scholarship is named after him. Let’s say Player B is a notoriously pampered and pompous rich kid about whom no one on his team has anything positive to say, who rode into town on his daddy’s coattails and never won so much as his division in college.
Let’s also imagine that Player B’s rich daddy helped him get out of and completely avoid (without missing a minute of game time) a sexual harassment scandal. And despite the fact that the accuser never recanted her statement and eventually lost her job and was transferred out of the school where Player B allegedly sexually assaulted her, no one ever brings this little incident up. Let’s also say the university Player B attends pays her off to the tune of, I don’t know, $300,000 after the incident. Still, not only does no one bring it up, but Player B then goes on to blatantly lie about said incident in a book he writes four years later with his aforementioned rich daddy. Let’s also say he was then sued for defamation for said lie, and (of course) he and his rich daddy settled out of court.
Now, let’s say you know all of these things. Let’s say you’re a fervent and (admittedly) somewhat fanatical supporter of Player A’s school and Player A is your childhood hero. Let’s say Player A is the reason you started cheering for his school and that the night he won your team the national championship remains one of your best and most treasured childhood memories. Let’s say you see all of these things and despite Player A’s obvious superiority as a football player and as a human being, all you hear from national media and everyone you know is what a great player and a great person Player B is.
Let’s say you watch Player A’s career go nowhere in the NFL and you watch his single greatest accomplishment become being named the MVP of the WorldBowl for the Rhein Fire. Let’s say that while your favorite player – the one who got you into college football, the one you’ve adored and idolized as much as any other athlete or human being on the planet – is fading into obscurity, you watch that spoiled rich kid, Player B, becoming the biggest name in the NFL. All the while he retains that same smug, condescending, I’m-better-than-everyone-else attitude that you always hated about him. And still, no one calls him on it.
Let’s say that after years of failure in the playoffs, and a sub-.500 playoff record that he still has to this day, Player B finally wins a Super Bowl and, because it happened to be over a quarterback who played at the school that dominated him for all four years of his college career, reporters pretend that he got some kind of vengeance over that team and Player A. Let’s say that after the Super Bowl some reporter even asks him that question, straight up, and he doesn’t exactly deny it.
Let’s say that a couple years later, Player B loses a Super Bowl game and shows his true colors (again) and rather than take the blame for the loss (even though he threw the game-clinching interception) he blames the loss on “protection issues” and his offensive line. Let’s say that after that same game he walked off the field without so much as acknowledging any players on the other team.
Imagine this guy also has a reputation around the league for putting the team first and being so “Aww shucks, gee whiz” humble, yet he refuses to let his team’s backup quarterbacks get any reps in practice and holds his team hostage by insisting that they never draft or pursue anyone who could even be a decent backup for him. Let’s say this contributed significantly to that team having the worst record in the league during the one year he got hurt. Let’s say everyone on his team knows this but the media has been drinking his Kool-Aid so hard that they not only ignore that part of the story, but they can’t imagine why he wouldn’t be able to coexist with the potential number one overall draft pick the next season.
While all this is happening all of a sudden the school that Player A made you fall in love with has recruited a new phenom, let’s call him Player C. Player C returns the school to greatness, wins a Heisman trophy, two national championships and becomes, arguably, the greatest quarterback in the history of college football. Let’s say this player is also a once-in-a-generation talent who exemplifies everything that athletes should be. Let’s say Player C miraculously gets drafted by your hometown team. Let’s say he leads that team (after going 2-14 and having the number two overall pick in the draft the year before) to a division title and one of the most exciting playoff wins in years.
Let’s say that Player B is still playing in the NFL all these years later and he gets cut by his former team. For some reason he decides to play for your hometown team, displacing Player C, who you’ve now come to love, as your hometown team’s quarterback. Let’s say the ownership and management of that hometown team has consistently and flagrantly disrespected Player C publicly and privately and is now unceremoniously kicking him to the curb, as if nothing in the previous paragraph ever happened, in favor of Player B who may or not may actually make it through an entire NFL season.
How would you feel?
So no, I’m not excited that Peyton Manning will be playing for the Broncos next season. Not even a little bit. I’ve been watching his career for 20 years and he’s proven himself over and over and over again to be a self-serving, self-aggrandizing, me-first asshole who exemplifies everything that’s wrong with not just professional athletes, but with shitty people around the world. His inhuman ability to be unforgivably selfish and be called selfless, to be unapologetically puerile and be considered magnanimous, to be a liar and a miserable whiner and never once be taken to task for it will always amaze me. In a world of T.O.s, LeBrons and other assorted assholes in sport he will always be my least favorite athlete. Always.
I am convinced Peyton Manning would sell out everyone he claims to love for a sack of money if his PR team convinced him they could spin the story or bury it. He stands for nothing but himself and the almighty dollar and he’s been nothing but a spoiled, sullen, ego maniac his entire career and everyone – EVERYONE – gives him a pass.
Fuck Peyton Manning. Fuck the Denver Broncos. And if you wanna be down with Peyton Manning, fuck you too.
And if you’d like to read more about what a great human being Peyton Manning is, there’s this - http://www.usatoday.com/sports/football/nfl/colts/2003-11-04-manning-suit_x.htm