While many athletes are criticized for speaking up, being arrogant, or having an overconfident swagger, Manning’s actions, or lack thereof, illustrated why it’s important to have a Randy Moss or Brett Favre on your team who speaks their mind to the fullest.
Peyton Manning stood there in front of his home crowd with the look of disgust along with the rest of his teammates who fought, scratched, and clawed all season to build a 14-0 record to witness their quest for perfection collapse right in front of their eyes. This was like a painful beating from the coaching staff to reward the players for their efforts all season.
In the third quarter when the Colts were barely clinging to the lead, 15-10, Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark, and Dwight Freeney and other starters all exited the game to have all their hopes of perfection leaning on a player who would probably make a better towel boy than quarterback.
James Caldwell didn’t even give his team a fair shot. He didn’t even insert a solid veteran backup, but instead a clipboard holder who barely belonged on the NFL practice field.
As Peyton stood there, just like most NFL fans across the country, he looked as if he was pouting like a kid who got his favorite toy taken away by his mother and the non-verbal expressions looked painful at best. He consistently talked to his offensive coordinator as he paced the sidelines and watched the team’s hard work be put on the shoulders of a practice squad and a has-been college quarterback.
Trent Dilfer, the top analyst for ESPN, talked about how these types of situations create doubt in the back of your mind. Dilfer himself was on the 2000 Ravens team who blasted into the playoffs and won 12 straight games along their Superbowl run. Dilfer emphasized the importance of teams going into the playoffs strong and on a winning edge. He also said you sign up for 16 games, not 14, at the beginning of the season.
Peyton Manning should have stood up to Caldwell this Sunday and told him he wanted to go back into the game as his body language and sideline tantrum suggested. He should have told Caldwell to put him back in the game or he will never play another game for the Colts again. His demand would have been granted just like Brett Favre’s were when Brad Childress tried to pull him out with a 7-6 lead. Instead, Caldwell didn’t even have the guts to send the team to the locker room so they didn’t have to endure the pain of a front row seat watching their hard work go down the kitchen sink.
Lets not bring up the 2005 Colts who went 14-2 and rested their players only to lose to the Steelers in the Divisional Playoff game (the second round).
Peyton Manning is going to look back at the game he entered into the elite 50,000 passing club with a biter taste in his mouth. Instead, years down the line, people will be talking about how not only Tom Brady won three Superbowls and Manning didn’t, but also the fact that Brady had an undefeated regular season going 16-0 (and a coach who rightfully allowed him to accomplish those goals).
Peyton Manning was upset and he took the passive road on Sunday. “I was told to be flexible,” he said in frustration after the game. He didn’t demand to be inserted back into the game and he didn’t tell his coach that it’s my way this time.
The Jets won 29-15. The Colts regular season 22-game streak ended. Don Shula sent a good riddance letter.
Peyton Manning was a nice guy and a class act.