I'm writing to you for guidance in my darkest hour. I'm lost. No amount of soul searching will console me. Only a week ago, I lost a playoff game to an inferior team, adding to my legacy as a big-game choker, save a three-game stretch in 2006. And get this: in the last two days, my brother's team fell asleep at the wheel and got knocked out of the playoffs by a hated rival, my beloved coach announced he's going to retire, and my Hall-of-Fame sidekick continues to struggle through a legal battle over a shooting incident.
I feel like putting on the air-tight helmet that constantly leaves purple bruise marks on my forehead, and heading to the garage to sit in my running car.
- In Deep in Indy
Talk about a kick-in-the-pants start to the New Year. And there isn't even an NFL Draft for Archie Manning to orchestrate with his puppet strings in the coming weeks. What is the world's most beloved family to do?
When you think about it, the Mannings probably had it coming. Things had been going far too well. Find me a person who isn't tired of seeing Peyton or Eli or Archie's southern mug on TV, and I'll find you a baseball from the 1994 World Series.
Things might get a lot worse before they get better, at least for Peyton. The Colts must now deal with the obvious decline of Marvin Harrison and the fact that Manning is not getting any younger while working a new coach into the fold. I realize that Jim Caldwell comes from the touchy-feely school of happy happy that Tony Dungy created, but you have to believe there will be an adjustment period.
Eli isn't necessarily hitting the panic button, but he does play in New York, which means last year's Super Bowl heroics have officially been wiped away thanks to yesterday's un-Manning-type performance against the Eagles. Perhaps it was the wind—which was admittedly stronger than Tony Siragusa's breath after a Super Bowl of onion dip—but Eli was having a hard time finding the guys in blue.
I'd be lying if I said I felt bad for any of this. I have a small soft spot for Eli, largely because my wife is a Giants fan, but as a lifelong New Englander and die-hard Patriots supporter I have plenty of reason to loathe Peyton. And Archie is the poster boy for "living vicariously." Somehow he's parlayed a miserable NFL existence into spots on a handful of football shows and halftime reports because his spawn happen to be better than him at tossing a football.
My image of the Manning brothers will forever be frozen in an ESPN SportsCenter commercial, when they wander the halls of the building giving each other wet willies and kicks in the backside. But none of the damage inflicted in the 30-second spot can compare to the first 12 days of 2009.
Happy New Year!