For one reason or another, Peyton Manning has become the proverbial punching-bag for the masses to attempt to swing their feckless fists at in the attempt to gain a moment of temporary satisfaction.
In any event, the New York Times recently published an article written by KC Joyner in an attempt to uncover the true motives behind this phenomenon.
While there is no prerequisite to remain impartial while writing an article about a sports figure (or anyone else for that matter), there is a difference between taking a shot at someone in response to behavior that one might deem to be questionable, and taking pot-shots without motivation simply for the satisfaction of pouncing on an easy target.
I need not defend Peyton Manning as his performance both on and off the field does the talking for him.
But while articles such as the aforementioned deal with petty issues for which Peyton himself would likely care little about, there is nothing to prevent me from exposing the reality of such instances by taking a firm stand in opposition of the sports-writing bullies of the world.
But before those who can recall the plethora of anti-Brady articles that I have written over the course of my B/R tenure speak out for the hypocrisy they might feel to be taking place in this very article, understand of course that there is a great deal of difference between questioning the moral conduct regarding the intake of questionably obtained competitive information while taking the stance that one such particular football-god might rank below some others, and creating a list of of petty reasons not to like another.
What I can do is provide for you, the list of ten reasons why KC Joyner feels that the Peyton Manning Fan-Club has "membership issues" and analyze the validity of the reasons provided.
1. "His pre-snap histrionics. All that gesturing and leg-lifting and waving and dummy audibles drive fans up a wall. I know Manning thinks this gives him an edge, but compare his pre-snap moves with Brett Favre’s. Before just about every snap, Favre barks the same signal: “Blue 58…Blue 58…Green 19…Green 19, set, hut!” I swear that I have heard Favre do this so many times I can hear it in my sleep, yet it isn’t halfway as annoying as Manning. And since Favre has been just as successful as Manning over the years, one has to wonder about the edge this really gives to Manning."
Now let me analyze this for a moment. "Since Favre has been just as successful as Manning over the years", really now?
I suppose in Joyner's estimation, Favre's career quarterback rating of 85.4 is mathematically equivalent to Manning's 94.7.
Manning's +9.3 points of quarterback rating accounts for an greater amount of distance between him and Favre than Favre (85.4) is from Jay Fiedler (77.1), but I suppose that is irrelevant.
Let's not make any mention that Manning has a higher completion percentage, averages more yards per-game, more touchdown passes per-game, and fewer interceptions per-game.
This simply appears to be an instance where the author recognizes that both Manning and Favre have been productive, therefore is under the impression that their performance must be identical.
"One has to wonder about the edge this really gives Manning".
How about being the most productive player in NFL history and possessing the highest quarterback rating for any quarterback to have played over a decade's worth of games.
I would argue that Manning's pre-snap antics frustrate anyone who isn't a Colts fan because it makes them sick to see this guy who is performing gestures they don't understand, put more points up on the board than their beloved heroes.
2. "His history of on the field pouting when things don’t go well. He did this in the playoff losses to New England and also had more than a couple of regular-season occurrences of this. Fans don’t like to see any player act this way, but they are especially unforgiving about quarterbacks."
I am curious to find out what the author's definition of "pouting" is.
If he is referring to times when Manning has thrown his hands up in the air and looked so emotional that he could explode, than yes we are talking about the same Peyton Manning.
But this is a reason not to like someone?
We see players who spit in the mouths of others, throw up gang-signs in celebration and brush past other players while refusing to even shake hands, but Manning throwing his hands up in the air and getting red in the face is the real issue?
I don't think so.
True, people might say negative things about such behavior but I don't think that is the real motivation for their distaste of Manning.
Again, people love to point out flaws in people who appear to be reasonably flawless.
In Manning's case, people who dislike the fact that he produces more both on and off the field are going to love the opportunity to pounce on instances where they feel they can have a quick laugh at his expense.
3. "Throwing his teammates under the bus after a loss. Manning may have been trying to be very careful and fair about distributing blame after some of the big losses over the years, but again, it doesn’t come across well to fans."
I love how people take one instance that accounted for about ten-seconds of Manning's 11-year career, and paint a picture of him being a poor teammate.
Obviously this was a reference to Manning remarks following the 2005 AFC Divisional playoff defeat to the Pittsburgh Steelers. When Manning said that "I'm trying to be a good teammate here, let's just say there were some issues with protection" after being sacked five times and having even less time per-snap to get the ball off than Tom Brady had in Super Bowl XLII (I suggest looking back at the film).
Do we make reference to Manning being heckled by reporters about the issue for minutes prior to his remarks?
Of course not and why would we?
The sound-bites always sound better.
But have we ever heard a single player say that Peyton Manning was a bad teammate?
Have we ever heard a single player say that they felt as though Manning had "thrown them under the bus"?
I assure you with as much as people like to make an issue of his remarks, they would be equally excited to expose a direct opinion from one of his teammates that reflected the same implication.
Too bad the guys Manning has played with have not shared that point of view (and take it from me, I've interviewed two of them directly).
4. "His P.R. approach to everything. Manning has the same issue that some politicians have. They become so well-polished with their answers that they seem somewhat fake or phony. Football fans want to identify with their quarterback as the guy next door, a guy they could go out and have a beer with, and Manning might not strike a lot of fans as that kind of guy."
Well I suppose the fact that Manning graduated in three years from the University of Tennessee with honors and a degree in communications has led people to believe that he is too sincere to be sincere.
And since people could not picture hanging out with Manning in an Indianapolis bar and sharing an alcoholic beverage, he must be some sort of social deviant.
If Manning chooses to spend more of his time studying film and less of his time indulging in the pleasures that intoxicating substances have to offer, I would say those would be the qualities of a finer quarterback.
I could understand wanting to relate to a guy and have a good old time but if a man wants to dedicate more time to honing his craft, that's the guy I would rather have on my football team.
5. "His commercial endorsements. Manning’s ubiquitous endorsement presence can be irritating. It can make him come across as being self-absorbed and mercenary, no matter how cute the commercials themselves are."
This reason might have some validity to it, but let's analyze this for a moment.
Peyton Manning gets paid millions of dollars (much of which he gives back to charity mind you) to promote products that end up making the people who hired him even more millions of dollars and this is a bad thing?
For every football fan who sits on the sofa every Sunday and criticizes Manning for being in one too many commercials, how many of them would decline millions of dollars if they could earn the same position Manning has?
6. "His football royalty lineage. Football fans aren’t the type of people who easily connect with someone from a privileged background. That’s where Manning came from, at least from a football perspective. Fans are much more likely to connect with a quarterback who had to fight odds and overcome being a second stringer. Someone like, say, Tom Brady for instance."
So I suppose that Manning's biological make-up is his fault.
In all actuality though, why should a person's ability to relate to a player's upbringing dictate how they feel about the person overall?
Meaning, obviously most people can connect with the "common man" but if someone from a "privileged background" was raised with the right morals and in-turn, has set a good example and become one of the best role-models a child could have, why are we less inclined to like that person?
Seems like a petty reason to dislike a person as far as I'm concerned because there is a difference between not connecting to someone due to the in-ability to relate to them, and disliking them.
7. "His intellectual style. I make my living by reviewing stats and other metrics, so I’m all for this approach, but even I don’t want to make the game quite as intellectual as Manning seems to want to at times."
So because Manning chooses to further investigate the various aspects of the game of football in greater depth, we should not like this person?
Think of Brett Favre for a moment (who I do like as a matter of fact) and watch his "Favre 4ever" DVD as he explains that for years into his NFL career, he didn't know what a "nickel" coverage was.
Do you not think that such failure to comprehend the game might have translated into a tendency for him to make mistakes on the field?
And wouldn't Manning's passion for being becoming further knowledgeable play a role in his success?
I could understand why his football-vocabulary might confuse people, but it doesn't strike me as something to hold against him.
8. "His lack of physicality. Manning has already started more consecutive games than just about anyone in NFL history and there is a good chance he will end up breaking Favre’s quarterback record in this category. Despite this, he still isn’t seen as a tough guy. This is partly because he has an offensive system that is designed to protect him. He rarely takes any hits due to this, though he is also helped by his ability to get rid of the ball quickly. Not taking hits does help him survive physically but it doesn’t do much for his reputation."
People must have forgotten when in 2001, Manning had his Jaw cracked about half-way through after taking a helmet collision to the face.
And how much time did this player who "isn't seen as a tough guy" miss?
As he continued to play every single game for the rest of the season with a special facemask created to prevent further damage.
Coming back from multiple knee-operations while playing hurt to win the league MVP award is worth noting, but I suppose it wouldn't change many people's minds.
9. "He plays indoors. When you bring up a mental image of Favre, what do you see? A cold Sunday at Lambeau field when he is having a shouting match with Warren Sapp. When you bring up a mental image of Manning, what do you see? A domed stadium and an unsoiled uniform."
It must have been part of Manning's scheme to get drafted to a team that played in a dome.
That would explain why he returned to Tennessee for a senior season when he was projected to go number one overall to the Jets in 1997.
He didn't want to play in the cold so he risked his chances by playing another season of college football that didn't help improve his draft-position just so he could play in the comfy confines of the RCA Dome.
Worthy of further mention is that Lucas Oil Field isn't exactly a dome.
It has windows in multiple areas that open to let the air in. Granted it's a lot better than playing in Lambeau field in the middle of December, but the RCA Dome it is not.
10. "His clean off-field image. One would think this would be a big plus, but Manning in some ways is seen as almost too much of a goody-two-shoes. He’s kind of like the Roger Staubach of today. Staubach tried to fight that image, once telling an “NFL Today” interviewer that he liked sex as much as Joe Namath did, but he had it with one woman."
So since Manning does not get into legal troubles of share his romantic life with the world, he must be too well-behaved to be liked? As a matter of fact, people are going to dislike him more for behaving better?
When it's all said and done, I cannot say that the reasons KC Joyner provided are inaccurate.
I think that there is some validity to his list of reasons why people tend not to like Manning, I just think that the real motive behind why they feel that way was not explained in further depth.
The issue is, I wouldn't usually view an article such as this to be of an attacking nature.
If one were to simply try to generate a list of reasonable explanations for why a certain player is facing various public-affection issues, it would be understandable.
But there is a difference between trying to provide an answer to a reasonable question, and turning your list of reasons into a comical performance that pokes fun at someone who didn't initiate any kind of confrontation.
Of course my rebuttal was plagued hyperbole, but the points I made are no less valid than the explanations provided in the first place.
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