For the loyal fans out there that managed to watch the post game celebrations of the New Orleans Saints last night, would have been eagerly awaiting the hand shake between Peyton Manning and Drew Brees when the clock hit triple zero. Unfortunately, the time never came, and in a Phillip Rivers type style, Peyton charged off the field like a disobedient cat with his tail between his legs.
They say sportsmanship is everything in sports. Win or lose, the terms "You played a great game" are a must say at the end of any sporting event. For some odd reason though, Peyton Manning is an exception to this superstitious rule, and instead of the media blowing it up, the issue has been shovelled aside as to not cause any controversy or distress.
Fans have noticed though, and many are questioning Peyton's overall integrity and desire to be one of the best in the game. We didn't see Joe Montana get to where he is today without shaking a few hands, accepting defeat, and brushing off a loss to move forward, did we?
Criticism aside, I can't help but speculate whether or not a loss will affect Peyton's career, more than his body language and manner in which he conducted himself in on Sunday night.
At times during the game, Peyton seemed stressed, worried and out of sync. Passes were dropped, flags were thrown and false starts began to pile up. Normally calm and collected, Manning brushes off the mistakes and takes the simple attitude of "It'll pan out."
Something was different about last night though, and I'm not talking about the poor commercials. No, I'm talking about Manning's desire, his passion, that seemed to fade away almost as soon as the first quarter had ended.
Jim Caldwell seemed calm, Joseph Addai was rushing well, and remarkably Dwight Freeney seemed to have a miracle moment where his ankle was miraculously a lot better than first thought. Although this is all well and good, no team is complete without solid quarterback play, something the Colts were lacking.
Given, the defense wasn't up to par either, Indianapolis really never showed any signs of pulling away and taking a convincing lead. I guess they did have the top notch New Orleans Saints to overcome, but realistically the game was their's to take after the first half had ended.
As for the hand shake, yes it is minor, but it could mean so much more. We're used to seeing Peyton winning, smiling, happy, and congratulating the other team on a well fought game. Sunday was different though, and we actually saw the losing side of Peyton Manning.
For those NBA fans out there that would remember Lebron James discussing his Cavaliers early exit out of the NBA Finals last year, would remember his overall attitude about the game being fairly well, poor. Peyton was much the same.
A handshake is nothing, but it is something in a Super Bowl type game. It may not hurt his legacy just yet, but sportsmanship goes a long way in a league that has prided itself on manner in dignity in any circumstance. Peyton just didn't live up to the task.