Peyton Manning Interception Shows We Take His Greatness for Granted

Rory BrownSenior Writer IFebruary 8, 2010

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - FEBRUARY 07: Peyton Manning #18 of the Indianapolis Colts reacts after a play against the New Orleans Saints during Super Bowl XLIV on February 7, 2010 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
Donald Miralle/Getty Images

Peyton Manning screwed up.

He threw the worst pass of his career, at the worst possible time, and now he'll have to live with it forever.

But as the media landscape begins to tear Manning apart, question his legacy, and collectively knock the dust off the "Reasons Why Peyton Manning is a Choke Artist" file, maybe we're all missing the point.

Maybe we're forgetting that this is a guy who lost his long time top receiver (Marvin Harrison) two years ago, but didn't miss a beat.

Maybe we're forgetting that this is a guy who lost his No. 2 wideout (Anthony Gonzalez) a few snaps into the current season, and still took his team to 14-0, and a Super Bowl.

Maybe we're forgetting that statistically, pick-six and all, Manning is unquestionably the top QB of his generation, and one of the best many of us have ever, and will ever, see play the position.

And maybe we're forgetting that Manning isn't just a QB...he's a coach, of sorts, for this Colts team, and has been for some time.

In the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately world of sports, Manning will get absolutely crushed over the next 48 hours. We'll watch his interception looped on SportsCenter, and former players and coaches, all far less talented in their prime, will tell us what No. 18 did wrong, and wonder what the hell he was thinking.

And then they'll revisit San Diego in '09 and '08, Pittsburgh in '06, and New England in '05 and '04.

For his critics, and a system built to feed on the failures of January and February football games, Super Bowl XLIV will be another piece of evidence in the case many like to build against Manning.

And I'll remember the pick-six, too. But I'll also remember the ball Manning got to Dallas Clark in quadruple coverage. And I'll remember that this team was a third-down Pierre Garcon drop away from inching closer to a 17-3 first half lead against the best the NFC had to offer.

Granted, Manning's nine playoff losses mean a lot more to many than his Super Bowl win or his slew of other accomplishments. And different people have different methods of measuring greatness.

But if the best you have on a guy is that he gets his team to the playoffs too often to not win it all more frequently, well....I could think of worse faults to have as a person.

Besides, in a world where Kurt Warner's a hero, and Brett Favre's an iron-man, Peyton Manning probably deserves a little bit better than "choker," don't you think?