As the Big Game approaches, it seems only appropriate to shed some light on a little-known player that no one is talking about:
For those of you who don’t know (and why would you?), Peyton Manning is the older brother of New York Giant legend Eli Manning, a two-time Super Bowl winner and inspiration for the Academy Award-winning film Book of Eli.
Peyton is also an NFL quarterback and has been for over fifteen years. Who knew?
Of course, in addition to a famous brother drawing all the attention, Peyton also has a famous father (Archie, an NFL legend in his own right) and a famous uncle (Roderigo, once saved a puppy).
In addition to being the 4th wheel in his own family, Peyton has suffered from a remarkable confluence of events throughout his career, all conspiring to draw the eye away from this poor fellow.
Peyton’s career should have begun with fanfare: he was a serviceable QB at the University of Tennessee and slated to go first in the 1998 NFL draft. Cue the trumpets, right? Unfortunately, Ryan Leaf was drafted in the same year, a man who literally had a shotgun for an arm. Leaf spent the next two years destroying the San Diego Chargers along with most of downtown San Diego—poor Legoland—while going on to inspire the television series Breaking Bad. So the first two years of Peyton’s career were a wash.
Once Leaf was run out of the league, it could have been Peyton’s time to shine.
Sadly, along came Brady.
“Brady” is, of course, Tom Brady: the stunningly handsome quarterback of the New England Patriots. Stunningly handsome, leader of the most beloved team in the country (they’re called the Patriots; we’re in America), coached by Darth Vader, married to 6 supermodels and a Mexican reporter.
Again, stunningly handsome.
Did you know that Peyton Manning has played Tom Brady?! That’s right, 438 times. However, each time they played, Brady personally ordered all the other Patriots off the field and then put a beating on Peyton the same way Sherman once put a beating on the South. So much for the rivalry that might have generated at least one or two articles.
Then, in the 2006-2007 season—it exists, stay with me—came Manning’s greatest chance. Maybe. Through extensive research with the quantum physics department at Cal-Tech, this reporter has discovered that there is trace evidence that Peyton Manning may have won a Super Bowl with the Indianapolis Colts over the Chicago Bears.
The Chicago Bears… quarterbacked by Rex Grossman.
Yeah. I know, I’ll give you a moment.
Apparently, Rex Grossman starting a Super Bowl was not only logically improbable, it physically violated Newton’s Eighth Law, causing the cosmos to wipe the months of September 2006 through February 2007 from existence, replacing them with reruns of Manimal.
The universe protects itself.
Evidence suggests there is only one person who remembers what actually happened: Peyton Manning himself. Poor guy. Imagine his nightmares—Rex Grossman in the Super Bowl.
A few years later, Manning had another Super Bowl opportunity and a chance at the spotlight; however, his Colts lost to the New Orleans Saints, a team that for a short time was both the most hated team in America (they paid to have Brett Farve assassinated during the NFC Championship game) and the most popular (they saved thousands of puppies during Hurricane Katrina).
Which brings us to this year. Sigh. I mean, come on… after getting to two—three?—Super Bowls, surely we could talk a little about the guy. Just a little? Of course not. Not when he’s playing a team led by the guy with the second best hair in NFL history and a cornerback who murdered Michael Crabtree and then, in the post-game interview, fathered 17 children with his eyes.
Still, in an obscure section of the Media Day scrum, one intrepid reporter did try. They chose a novel topic of argument: Peyton Manning’s legacy. The conversation went thus:
Reporter: Peyton, what about the fact you’ve never won the big game?
Peyton: What are you talking about? There was that time I beat Rex—
At which point, the reporter screamed and promptly exploded.
The universe protects itself.
Ian Donald Keeling began improvising in the 80s, back when we thought Jams were cool and Robin Thicke’s dad was the bomb. Currently, he’s a member of the improv and sketch-writing faculty at The Second City Toronto, and he still thinks Robin Thicke’s dad is the bomb.