As much well-deserved sludge that got thrown on Cam Newton after Super Bowl 50, can we at least smear a little dab of spa mud on the other quarterback, too?
It is extremely difficult to work up a whole lot of animus toward Peyton Manning, whose eventual retirement will close the book on one of the most celebrated of careers. It’s like trying to dig up dirt on the late Mr. Rogers. But I’m in the media, and it is my sacred duty to tarnish even the finest silver.
So here goes, for the sake of cosmic balance.
Five things to criticize about the other guy in Super Bowl 50:
- That kiss of the Papa John’s guy on the field just moments after the game was done was a shabby bit of commercialism, unseemly by the standards that Manning himself established over 18 years in the league. You cap off a brilliant career in the perfect way, and you celebrate it with that guy before almost anyone else? Maybe we could accept it more if the pizza was better and those commercial spots weren’t the worst of the many that Manning does. How did that guy get down there, anyway – throw out a few pies to distract security and scuttle onto the field while they were fighting over the last cold piece.
- The crass commerce did not end there. In his postgame network remarks, Manning made sure to mention that he would be enjoying many Budweisers in victory’s aftermath. History will mark that Manning was the person who launched the era of NASCAR-like corporate mentions after the big game. And why do I think he’s going to set his retirement announcement to the tune of the Nationwide jingle?
- No quarterback should be given a parade at Disney Land if he threw exactly as many touchdowns the day before as Mickey Mouse. Manning nonetheless accepted the invitation.
- At no time did he make mention of intending to buy every member of the Broncos defense a Tesla. That’s the very least he can do for the unit that transported him to the mountaintop.
- He made Trent Dilfer and Brad Johnson look like Super Bowl titans. Michael Hurley of CBS Boston did the hard work of ciphering the postseason ratings of every quarterback during the season he won a Super Bowl. Manning’s two postseason runs to a title rank among the four lowest. Hurley’s numbers: Terry Bradshaw, 1975 (68.4, much of his postseason played in horrible weather); Manning, 2006 (70.5); Joe Namath, 1968 (74.2); Manning, 2015 (75.4); Johnny Unitas, 1970 (76.3).
As you can see, it’s really difficult to work up a decent rant against Manning. That’s the best I can do for the Cam Newton apologists out there.
Particularly when, after it’s all said and done, I will miss watching him play like I miss seeing the Beatles perform.