Monday, March 19, 2012

Not Everyone's Excited About Peyton Manning



The constant waving of the arms at the line of scrimmage…

The never-ending audibles…

“Just throw the stupid ball!” I used to yell whenever I had to endure four quarters of Peyton Manning’s antics on television. My kids can’t even stand to play against him on Madden 12 on the Wii. Their patience grows weary.

Peyton Manning has always been one of my least favorite players in the NFL. Mostly due to the annoyances described above, partially because I was tired of always seeing Indy deep in the playoffs, partially because I just got sick of all the “Mannings” in the NFL, and partially because he played for the Colts…which had too many Hawkeye players on it—Bob Sanders; Dallas Clark, etc… Hey, I’m transparent. Sorry Iowa fans.

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Tim Tebow had become my favorite player in the NFL. I loved him when he was at Florida for everything he stood for spiritually and the way he competed. I loved him even more the day he was drafted by my lifelong favorite team in the NFL—the Denver Broncos. For me, it was a match made in heaven. Literally.

Tebow-Mania was in full force at our house last year. The night Denver won the playoff game against Pittsburgh in overtime, my dog bit me because I went so crazy after the Tebow-to-Thomas TD pass. What made it even more exciting was seeing my 10-year old son’s eyes light up every time Tebow would lead the Broncos on another game-winning drive. He has a Tebow jersey, Tebow poster, Tebow football cards, you name it. Watching the way he defied his critics this year and watching the way he led comeback after comeback, albeit not always in the prettiest of fashions, I had the most fun I’ve had as a Broncos fan since John Elway last won a Super Bowl.

Today, I had to tell my son that Peyton Manning had picked the Denver Broncos. I dreaded the moment, probably like my dad the day he had to tell me the school bus driver ran over my dog when I was in first grade.

He was heartbroken.

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The Broncos just signed the most highly-touted free agent in the history of the NFL. Denver’s chances of winning the Super Bowl, according to Las Vegas, went from 70:1 to 10:1, instantly. I should be happy about this, right?

In some ways, yes, I am. I’m happy that Denver is going “all-in” to try to win another Super Bowl. I’m happy that they will probably sign some other highly talented players to go around him: Jeff Saturday, the Pro Bowl Center; even Dallas Clark, the Pro Bowl Tight End, possibly.

Do I think that Peyton Manning is a better QB than Tim Tebow? Of course…IF he’s healthy. And that’s a big “if.” Manning is 36 years old, coming off of multiple neck surgeries. Tebow is 24, as healthy as they come, with a work ethic second to none.

Do I think the Broncos will have a better passing game with Manning? Absolutely. There were times last year when Tebow looked terrible throwing the ball. No one can deny that. At the same time, when Denver actually opened up the offense and just let Tebow air it out, it was a different story.

Do I think the Broncos will win more games with Manning? Probably. But this one, I’m not as sure about. I don’t think you can underestimate the number of games Denver won solely on Tebows desire and the way he inspired his teammates in key situations last season.

What about Tebow-Mania? Tim Tebow energized the Broncos fan base last year. Single-handily. The world-wide interest the club drew because of him and the financial windfall the organization made off of him is probably immeasurable. Sure, Manning will create some of that as well, but will it create the same buzz?

Tim Tebow is more than a football player. He represents so much more than that, and that is what draws so many people to him. Peyton Manning is just a football player. True, he’s one of the greatest ever, but we don’t know yet if he’ll still have “greatest-ever” abilities with the Denver Broncos.

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The constant waving of the arms at the line of scrimmage…

The never-ending audibles…

Tim Tebow exciting another fan-base elsewhere…

As long as Peyton Manning wins us a Super Bowl or two, I guess it will all be worth it? I’m not so sure you can convince my ten-year old son of that. Tebow-Mania was awfully fun.

--By Andrew Gogerty

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