I can’t seem to break it through my buddy’s skull. No, I will not be rooting for “our” Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII.
“But you live in Seattle!”
It’s nothing against the Seahawks, Richard Sherman, Skittles or the 12th man. I’ve attended at least one regular season game in the last four years, and I have a great time every time. It’s an incredible atmosphere. Russell Wilson is a class act. Marshawn Lynch is a beast. The defense is incredible. I just heart Peyton Manning. Plain and simple.
No, one player doesn’t make a team … unless that one player is your favorite athlete of all-time – sorry Benito Santiago, Tony Gwynn and Kevin Johnson (click on the KJ link to see my favorite dunk of all-time) – and for the last 10 years you’ve watched the majority of his contests despite living in a faraway market.
I thought as a lead up to the Super Bowl I would give 18 reasons why I Heart Peyton Manning. Why 18? Well if you don’t know you’re probably not reading this. Psst Mom … Manning wears No. 18!
In no particular order …
No. 1 – In the Year 2000 … and Four!
It was 2004 and Peyton Manning was in the midst of a record-breaking season. The QB threw 49 touchdowns breaking Dan Marino’s record. More importantly, he was leading my fantasy football team, the Postpartum Blues (known before October 17, 2004 as Knocked Up), to a 12-1 regular season, 14 straight wins (including playoffs) and its second title in four years. Yes, because Manning was my QB I watched a lot of his games and fell in love with the way that he played them. Not only was his high-flying offense fun to watch, but …
No. 2 – “Omaha! Omaha!”
OK so he hasn’t always barked “Omaha! Omaha!” at the line of scrimmage. There have been plenty of other places and things he’s yelled instead, but the way he barked at the line of scrimmage and moved his players around like they were on a chess board, made me a fan of No. 18. I used to love when they played against the Baltimore Ravens and Ray Lewis. Manning yelling from the offensive side and Lewis shouting back at him from the defensive side. As I finish my first season as a basketball coach I’ve taught my kids “Omaha!” our basic motion offense. It’s fun to be watching a bunch of 8/9 year olds shouting “Omaha!” as they dribble down the court in ‘Hawks country. Omaha!
No. 3 – Class Act
Speaking of Ray Lewis, it was after last year’s devastating loss (and it was devastating) to the Baltimore Ravens that Manning waited and waited and waited outside the Ravens locker room to congratulate the soon-to-be retired linebacker he had many of confrontations with. That shows class both as an athlete and a person. To be able to congratulate your opponent after a heartbreaking defeat. I know there was this episode with his offensive line (but if anyone has ever played on a team you know this stuff happens, in fact it happened with me last night when I barked to my men’s league team about wanting to switch to man-on-man defense) and calling out his “idiot kicker”, but few players have the class that Manning exudes. Which leads us to …
No. 4 – R-E-S-P-E-C-T
In ESPN’s recent NFL Nation Confidential survey of more than 320 players, Manning was named as the most respected player in the game, earning 86 votes (27-percent). He was also the top vote-getter for the question of “If you had to start a team with one player whom would it be?” earning 62 votes (19-percent). Personally I’d take Andrew Luck, who finished six votes behind Manning, and not just because he’s a younger Manning, but he’s young, smart and has a great arm. Still, the numbers above show how much Manning is respected by his peers.
No. 5 – The Fans Respect Him
It’s not just because Manning has the No. 1 spot on NFLShop.com’s top-selling jerseys, but it’s because ask anyone to say something bad about Manning and they’ll be hard-pressed to pick something bad about him. Maybe they’ll point to his postseason record, his pink spot on his forehead or the cheesy Papa John commercials, but when it comes to the way someone carries himself and plays the game it’s hard not to root for him.
No. 6 – Just Your Average
I think a reason why fans like him so much is that they find him relatable. Sure he may be all over the television in a variety of commercials, but his commercials often poke fun at himself. It’s something I can relate to. I don’t like talking about myself, but I also don’t mind poking fun at myself. I think he’s comfortable enough (and proven enough) to realize that just because he’s a goofball on TV then it doesn’t mean he’s a goofball in the pocket.
No. 7 – “F.O.Y.P.” and “Football Cops”
Sure those Papa John’s commercials are a little lame, but he and Brother Eli have teamed up for two of the best commercials by athletes in the “Football On Your Phone” and “Football Cops” videos for DirectTV. By the way, if you want to watch a video of all the Peyton and Eli videos check out the column I wrote on PopBlerd!
No. 8 – He’s Not Heavy … He’s My Brother
Speaking of Eli … Peyton is the middle of three brothers. I’m the oldest of three brothers. If Cooper were to have stayed healthy and made it to the pros he’d probably be my favorite Manning just because I favor the eldest. The continue to root for each other (when they are not playing each other) and support each other throughout their careers. It was kind of nice to see Cooper, Eli and Archie celebrating in Denver when the Broncos won the AFC Championship.
No. 9 – No Tweet, No Facebook, No Problem!
We all know about Archie, Mama Manning and the trio of Manning brothers, but it took me a couple of years to wonder if Peyton was married? He is, and he has twins that are almost three-years old. He keeps his family life private. He’s not on Twitter, he’s not on Facebook and other than the aforementioned commercials you don’t see much of Manning or his private life. In this day and age you have to respect that – a ton! An athlete who lets his play and the talk of his peers speak about the person that he is. What a wonderful role model for our youth. Unless you think this commercial is real …
No. 10 – This Saturday Night Live “United Way” Sketch
Manning’s transition from football to entertainment is nearly flawless. And no better example of that is in this hilarious Saturday Night Live sketch, still one of my all-time favorites.
No. 11 – Charity Work
You all know how I love me some charity work. Did you know that Peyton’s Peyback Foundation has distributed more than $6.5 million in grants since 2002, including $581,000 in May 2013 to 90 youth-based organizations (yes, taken right off the PeyBack website)? You can find out more by clicking here. Did you know that in 2007 the St. Vincent Children’s Hospital was officially renamed the Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital at St. Vincent? Yes, most athletes have their own charities or visit local children hospitals but having one named after you? Kind of impressive. Also impressive is the Manning Passing Academy (though not a charity) that he, Cooper, his dad and Eli put on every year. There are a lot of good college and pro quarterbacks who have visited this camp when they were younger, including Russell Wilson.
No. 12 – Fear the Forehead!
Let’s get a little personal. I have a forehead that you can watch a drive-thru movie on. My youngest son was blessed with a giant forehead. Once you get past a certain age you come to terms with your giant forehead and you embrace it. Peyton Manning has one of those foreheads. We FIVE-heads have to stick together!
No. 13 – Giving Me the Something to Root For!
Fantasy football (or sports) can turn your love for teams more into a love for individuals. Guilty! I loved Manning before I had a favorite football team. But watching Manning for a year made me fall for the Colts. It wasn’t just about Manning, but about Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, Edgerrin James, Joseph Addai, Dwight Freeney, Bob Sanders, Robert Mathis and Antoine Bethea. The Colts quickly became one of my favorite sports teams – EVER! I’ve been a San Diego Padres fan since 1986. I loved the Phoenix Suns throughout the ’90s and early ’00s. I have liked the Seattle Mariners since our move to this region in ’92. I was never a football fan, not until I started playing fantasy football in the late ’90s. Thus my love for the Colts. And even though Manning is now gone, the Colts have still become the team I root hardest for. Found that out this year when I found myself rooting against Manning and the Broncos, and taking the postseason loss to the Patriots harder than expected. I guess that makes me ColtsStrong!
No. 14 – My Lone Sports Championship
As cried about in numerous posts, I’ve been a sports fan since the summer of ’86. Before Manning came along I had two teams reach the championship in their respective sports, the ’92-’93 Phoenix Suns and the 1998 San Diego Padres. Both were defeated! But in 2007 the Indianapolis Colts defeated the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI. Hmm … two seasons after I became a Colts fan, and in the lone Super Bowl to have crappy weather. Do I see a pattern?
NOTE: My BFF, and the dude that brings me to the Seahawks games every year, informed me this week that I’ve already won a championship and he hasn’t – EVER! His San Francisco Giants were swept back in 1989, the Seahawks lost to
the Steelers the Refs back in 2006. I started to feel sorry for him … for a second. I guess if the Seahawks win I’ll feel less upset about it knowing that he’ll have a championship under his belt.
No. 15 – Defeating the Evil Empire
That Super Bowl victory was set up by a 38-34 come-from-behind victory over the New England Patriots. The Patriots had dominated my team. Manning had that gorilla on his back of consistently falling to Tom Brady. It looked grim until it didn’t. I still remember Lukas accidentally hitting the “leap ahead” button on the TiVo and briefly seeing confetti fall to the ground. It gave me hope! Click here for highlights please! (Darn NFL.com not letting me embed the video on my blog!)
No. 16 – He’s Good!
Soon-to-be five MVP awards. Thirteen Pro Bowls. One Super Bowl. One Super Bowl MVP. Most TDs in a season (55). Most yards in a season (5,477). Tied for the most TDs in one game (7). Thirteen of his 15 seasons he’s led his team to at least 10 wins. Thirteen of his 15 years his team’s have played in the postseason. And many more you can find on his Wikipedia page.
No. 17 – He Makes Those Around Him Great!
A future member of the Hall of Fame, Marvin Harrison holds several NFL records as a wide receiver and is a three-time All-Pro first teamer. Reggie Wayne is a three-time All-Pro receiver. Dallas Clark was an All-Pro tight end for Manning. Edgerrin James earned All-Pro honors four times running for Manning. Bronco receivers Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, and Julius Thomas have all had career years. Wes Welker set a personal record for TDs with Manning, and he played with Tom Brady. Knowshon Moreno has had his career rejuvenated because of Manning. I’m sure all will thank Manning for the career he has helped them build.
No. 18 – That Comeback!
We’ve all heard about his four neck surgeries and the possibility of Manning not being able to resume his career. Knowing now how well he’s done, it seems like not a big deal, except that it was. At the time I was nervous that the end was coming. I was scared his first game back. I thought one hit and he was broken. Ha! The dude has been incredible since he added a scar to his neck. Incredible!
Super Bowl Prediction
Will I renege on my preseason prediction of picking the Seahawks to win the Super Bowl? By the way, had them winning over the Texans (2-14), secretly thought it’d be the Broncos but didn’t want to jinx myself and … here we are.
Yes. I would love to see Manning win his second Super Bowl. Plus, as mentioned in prior posts, the Broncos have become my Team 1B. I’ve followed them closely for three years now (yes, I jumped on the Tim Tebow bandwagon) and I look forward to the casual football fans that focus solely on the Legion of Boom to watch Manning do what he does best, and for them to get a view of the talented receiving corp in action (these aren’t just “mediocre” receivers).
Denver is the No. 1 offense, averaging 37.9 points per game (10 more than the second best Philadelphia Eagles). Seattle has faced only one team in the top 10 in offense this year, that being the 10th ranked New Orleans Saints (twice, at home, who they manhandled). Denver’s lowest point total came against San Diego (in a 27-20 loss), when the Chargers ran and ran and ran the ball down the Broncos throat. Something Seattle can do very, very well.
Seattle is the No. 1 defense, allowing just 14.4 points per game. Denver faced three of the top 10 defenses this year, defeating the No. 5 Kansas City Chiefs twice, but losing to the No. 9 Indianapolis Colts and splitting the contests between the No. 10 New England Patriots. Though in both losses to the Colts and Patriots, the Broncos scored an average of 32 points and the Colts/Patriots averaged 36.5, not really a defensive battle. Seattle gave up a season-high 34 points to the Colts (and a similar quarterback), but other than that lapse gave up just 24 points once.
Hmm … seems like a push … Denver may not score their 38 points a game, but it’s likely Seattle won’t be able to hold Denver to just 14 points.
Common opponents? Sure! Both went 4-1 against common opponents, with both losses coming to MY Indianapolis Colts (Colts 34, Seattle 28; Colts 39-Denver 33).
Denver and Seattle defeated Jacksonville (Denver 35-19, Seattle 45-17), the Giants (Denver 41-23, 23-0), Tennessee (Denver 51-28, Seattle 20-13) and Houston (Denver 37, Texans 13, Seattle 23-20).
Hmm … seems like a push … I think this game comes down to not the Seahawks defense or the Broncos offense but the opposite. How well can the Broncos defense play against the Seahawks offense? This should be a fun game, but because of Manning, the Broncos weapons, and me loving the spread offense since the days of the Jerry Rice 49ers, I’m taking the Broncos 31-27. What a surprise eh?