Indianapolis Colts

Peyton Manning Is the Choice For Students Of The Game

INDIANAPOLIS - JANUARY 24:  Quarterback Peyton Manning #18 of the Indianapolis Colts reacts during the first half against the New York Jets during the AFC Championship Game at Lucas Oil Stadium on January 24, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Colts defeated the Jets 30-17.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images
Josh WetmoreCorrespondent IFebruary 4, 2010

Most NFL fans are like me and their favorite football team has been rendered irrelevant right now. This leaves millions with the inevitable dilemma of who to root for in the Super Bowl.

The obvious choice is the New Orleans Saints.

Drew Brees clearly deserves a championship ring, and no city has paid their dues as both fans and citizens quite like the Big Easy.

Also, the idea of a Mardi Gras style Super Bowl parade is almost irresistible.

For the NFL academic, however, the love has to go to the Indianapolis Colts.

There is nothing better for a true student of the game than to watch Manning read a defensive coordinator's mind like a Curious George book after just one offensive drive.

During the AFC Championship game, one of the best defensive minds in the NFL, Rex Ryan, spent a week devising a defensive scheme that shut down Manning for a whole possession.

He had years of playoff coordinating experience, a slew of pass rushers, and the game's best cornerback since Deion Sanders at his disposal, and Peyton Manning had it figured out in the time of a commercial break.

So, back to this upcoming Sunday.

In theory I feel like rooting for the Saints, but I know that as the game goes on, my love affair for the play of Peyton Manning will eventually turn me into a Colts fan.

It's kind of like when a guy can't take his eyes off of a beautiful girl, even though he's sitting next to a girl who is actually good for him.

I just can't take my eyes off of Peyton Manning.

From one more view of an academic fan, I can't help but want Manning to win his second Super Bowl if for no other reason than to say I have grown up watching the greatest quarterback of all time.

As far as I'm concerned that's exactly what Manning will be if he wins this second Super Bowl.

There are three basic elements to defining great quarterbacks: how good their stats are, how they change the game, and how many Super Bowls they won.

To be the greatest of all time, a passer has to be one of the best in all three categories. Dan Marino for example, changed the game and put up better statistics than anyone, but he has zero rings to show for it and is out of the conversation.

Steve Young also was a monster on the stat line as well but with only one Super Bowl win and his predecessor being a revolutionary figure, he isn't considered to be one of the very best either.

Cowboy's quarterback Troy Aikman won three Super Bowls in one of the greatest dynasties in NFL history, but his running back changed the game more than he did and his stats were never eye popping. Once again he can't be the best.

Manning on the other hand has clearly changed the game with his brilliant mind and he is surpassing Marino in just about every statistical category.

All he needs is that one extra championship season, and he has it all.

Once he does we can all officially say we've watched the greatest of all time.

It might not be the feel good story, but for those who cherish the history and cerebral workings of the game the Colts have to be the team to cheer for come Sunday.

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