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Archie’s World…

January 25, 2010 Leave a comment

Archie Manning is arguably the greatest quarterback in New Orleans Saints’ history (Although if Drew Brees wins the Super Bowl, then I think he takes the prize and marches down Bourbon St. with it). He played for the Saints for most of his career and after his playing career was finished, he settled in New Orleans and raised his children there. He’s been visible at Saints games for twenty-seven years and on February 7th in his team’s most important game, he’s going to cheer for their opponent.

I’m sure this is obvious to most of you, but of course one of the children that Manning raised in New Orleans was a precocious young lad named Peyton and today, Archie told the associated press that,

“It’s a game I’m going to pull for my son. [Saints coach] Sean Payton knows that. He’s a great friend of mine,” Manning said. “[Saints quarterback] Drew Brees knows that. That’s just the way it is.”

Seems pretty logical to me. The money quote,

“Anybody who thinks it’s different must not have children.”

Now, I don’t have children, at least none that I know of, but… I’m fairly certain that anybody who is a child should understand this. Cheering for your child is a no-brainer… And really, while I imagine if the Colts loose Archie will feel bad for his son, he’ll still be able to celebrate the greatest moment in Saints history. It’s not quite a win-win for him, but it’s close. Really, it’s Archie’s world and we’re all just living in it…

Pissing On History, or how I Learned to Stop Worrying and Cheer for the Colts…

January 23, 2010 Leave a comment

Part of why I returned to the world of blogging was the Colts’ decision to rest their best players part way through the Jets game and forgo the chance for perfection. That decision was so wrong, so insulting, so specious, that it had me dropping F-bombs while discussing it with the Bald Man. Now, by the time I got the blog off the ground, the fervor over the Painter era had passed and other things seemed more pertinent, so there was nothing for me to do, but eat those feelings of apoplectic hostility, which actually left me looking a lot like Jets’ coach Rex Ryan.

Still, when the playoffs began all that I wanted was for the Jets, who only made the playoffs because the Colts sat Peyton Manning in favor of Curtis Painter, to play the Colts when it counted. The irony of the Jets beating the Colts in the playoffs would be so thick that it would ensure Bill Polian’s insouciant opinion of a perfect season live in infamy. So, imagine my pleasure when the Jets last Sunday waltzed in to San Diego and threw down the vaunted Chargers… Only problem, now that it comes to it, I still find myself cheering for the damn Colts.

Don’t get me wrong, I HATE what they did. The logic to piss on the opportunity to have the NFLs second perfect season was so capricious, it ignored every level of athletic integrity; it ignored the men and women who buy the tickets and watch the team on TV; it ignored the players whose sweat and blood had won fourteen games already; it ignored a sense of history a week after Polian allowed the players to play so that the Colts could become the decade’s all time winningest team. Who held that record before them? Who knows, certainly not me. I imagine you could poll a 100, a 1,000, maybe even 10,000 dedicated football fans and not find someone who knows the answer. On the other hand, you could ask my beautiful bride who has the NFLs only perfect season and she’d know. Why? Because one record matters and the others a load of…

Bill Polian chose to focus on the possibility of the devastating loss of a player to injury, ala Wes Welker, the only problem with that logic? Belichick was also resting guys that day, albeit halfheartedly and without any rhyme or reason, and Welker still got hurt. Guys get hurt in games, they do, but Peyton could have gotten hurt in the half and a bit he did play, or he could get hurt in practice, or he could get hurt when he films all those commercials, or he could get hurt while sneezing or even while adjusting a pillow, seriously it happens. Injuries are a part of life, they happen and allowing them to dictate how you play is sort of like parents who refuse to let their children outside, lest they get skin cancer.

Polian also maintained that he was interested only in winning the Super Bowl, as though the two things were mutually exclusive. I’m sorry Bill, they aren’t and maybe this is just conjecture, but I actually think resting your starters in football has an adverse affect. This isn’t to say that a team can’t recover, the Colts looked good last week, but if you look at the difference between the playoff records of the Colts and Patriots during the past decade (a decade by the way in which the Patriots were clearly the best team, no matter who won the most games) it becomes clear that the Patriots succeeded with an incessant drive to dominate, while the Colts suffered by resting players.

The Pats never rested Brady, they went in to the playoffs sharp and ready to attack, only losing in the first round once, this year. The Colts always rested their starters and they lost their first playoff game in five of their nine trips to the playoffs. Coincidence? I don’t know, but I do know that the year the Colts won the Super Bowl a shitty start meant that they had to play their way into the tournament and thus weren’t able to rest their starters.

So why after all that vitriol am I cheering for the Colts? Well, in two words: Peyton Manning. If you watched the Jets’ game, then you know that whatever the man has said publicly, Manning hated that decision to sit as much as I did. I’d say flames were coming out of his eyes as he stood on the sideline watching perfection being passed like yesterday’s McDonalds, but, well… it was worse than flames. Lasers? Lava? Satan’s pitchfork? I don’t know exactly, Peyton was like Elin standing with a nine iron in one hand and Tiger’s blackberry in the other.

Manning is a bright guy, who grew up around the game and has a deep love of football. He knows the history, he knows the importance, he knows that he’s somewhere between the 8th and 4th greatest quarterback in history and that everything he does over the next five years will determine whether he stays in that range or moves up to join Montana, Unitas, and Graham in the penthouse.

This is what made me so mad about the Colts’ decision. Peyton Manning is that franchise on a level that few players are in any sport. We’re talking about in a way where not only is that guy so beyond the most important and best player on the team, but he’s largely considered iconic, either bigger than the franchise itself, or at least so firmly entrenched that imaging him in another uniform is like imagining Jay Leno without his chin: we’re talking about Ripken and the Orioles, Jordan and the Bulls (the Wizards sojourn just didn’t really happen), Jeter with the Yanks, Tim Duncan with the Spurs, Brett Farve with the Pa… whoops, maybe not that last one. I think at that point, if you are Bill Polian you at least turn the decision over to Peyton. I’d have let the other veterans decide too, but Peyton’s voice would have been the most important. For everything Manning has done for that franchise, he deserved the chance to control his destiny. I know the job of team architect is to make the “big picture” decisions, but it’s also to realize that some things are bigger than the big picture. Thanks to Bill Polian, Peyton didn’t have the chance to pursue something that would have put this Colts team in the discussion for not just the best team of 2009, but the best team ever. Instead, Polian painted right over Peyton’s and the Colts’ legacy.

So, in the end, because of Peyton, I’m cheering for the Colts. Some might think winning it all would validate Polian’s decision, but I think it only makes the ‘what ifs” worse… which might not be as vindictively satisfying as them losing to the Jets, but it’ll have to be enough for me.

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