Is Manning a True Sportsman?

Is Manning a True Sportsman?I have done my best to avoid this topic, but I cannot hold back any longer. Yes, I live in Indianapolis, and according to all of my friends and neighbors, I should be an Indianapolis Colts fan. However, sadly I am not a fan of the Colts. I am actually not a fan of anyone in the National Football League. I have a theory that all professional sports, golf included, are rigged. The NFL, MLB, PGA, etc. know who is going to win that game before it is ever played. Money is the root of my theory, ranging from advertisement dollars to player payoffs, but that is a story all on its own. I tend to not follow too many professional sports because of this, but if forced to pick a favorite team in the NFL it would still not be the Colts.

Just because I live in Indiana—Indianapolis at that—does not mean that I have to be a fan of the team that just happens to be from my home town. The Indianapolis Colts actually started in Baltimore. So, did everyone who lives in Baltimore have to root for the Colts and then stop cheering for them when they left and were no longer a Baltimore hometown team? You might argue that I lack hometown pride. But does following a football team that just happens to have the name of my city attached to it truly mean that I have hometown pride? In the end, the game itself is a form of entertainment. It is no different than turning on the TV and watching an episode of Heroes. Sure, the TV show might make me laugh or cry, but in the end, all it did was to serve as a way to waste my time for visual entertainment. Football is no different. I am the same person when the TV show is over and you are the same person when the football game is over.

You might think that having this point of view on football, and with the Indianapolis Colts being in the game, that I would stay as far away as I could Sunday afternoon. But, I ended up at a Super Bowl party on the south side of Indianapolis. I was invited to join my girlfriend and her best friend, as well as a few others close to the hostess, for the big game. I headed down a little after noon on Sunday to get the party started right. Or so I thought. We ended up going to see a movie before the game. This is no big deal as I am a huge movie buff, and we actually saw one that I not only had no idea what it was about, but also that I had not seen before. That is rare if you know me and film. So we headed off, me and three girls, to see the Lovely Bones. (The film was actually pretty good. It had an OK cast but the script was pretty epic and even managed to throw some science fiction in there that made it seem a little more entertaining.)

After the movie we headed back to the 168 inch screen to watch the game, but more importantly the commercials. You see, this is my way of watching the Super Bowl and not having to be a sports fan to do so. I just claim that I am not, in fact, at a Super Bowl party but rather a Super Commercials party. It works, it gets a laugh, and I get to eat, drink, and be merry while the game breaks. This year there were actually forty-eight minutes of commercials. (If you take that times the three million that it took to land one of those thirty second time slots, the commercials alone cost companies $288 million.) Unfortunately, none of the commercials this year were really all that great. There were a couple of funny ads, a serious one or two, and nothing that really had me on the floor laughing out loud. I hope this was money well spent for these companies.

But the reason that I decided to begin talking about the Indianapolis Colts and Super Bowl XIV was not for the fans. It was not for the players, the coaches, or the final score of the game. (I would like to say congratulations to the New Orleans Saints and to Drew Brees for simply outplaying and outcoaching the Indianapolis Colts. You guys truly deserved that victory.) I am here because I am embarrassed for all of you Colts fans. You people walk around preaching to me about how I should be a fan of this team. You have your reasons and even get defensive when I say I am not a fan. But the way your quarterback walked off the field after this year’s Super Bowl, you should all be ashamed to call them your team.

After most sporting events the two teams will congratulate each other on a good game. They will shake hands, smack hind ends, or even hug for a job well done, whether win or lose. I remember this even being instilled in me at a very young age. As far back as little league I remember having to line up after a game, regardless of the outcome, and being forced to high five the other team. So when I watch Peyton Manning, superstar quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts, walk off the field and refuse to shake hands with anyone, not even the opposing quarterback, I lost a lot of respect for that man.

It takes a lot for a man who has lost a game to admit that he was outplayed. Granted, this was the single biggest game of the year, and although the Colts have been here and won in the past, they felt that they deserved it this year. But, in the end, they did not win the one game that mattered. Now, that is not saying anything negative about the Colts or the Colts season, but when it all comes down to it, the Saints had one hell of a season and played one of the best football games, overall, that I have seen in a long time. Drew Brees, already throwing the ball like a rocket out there, passed for thirty-two completions tying the NFL Super Bowl completions record. They also tied the record for coming from the most points behind with ten. (That seems so low to me that the biggest come from behind victory is only ten points. But that is the state and the Saints join that record.) The Saints even took quite a risk in performing an almost impossible onside kick that in my eyes was the turning point in the game and the reason why the momentum went back in their corner. The game, needless to say, was entertaining.

I will assume that some of you might argue the fact that it was a big game, the biggest of the season, the other team was going nuts, etc. and that Drew or any of the other players would have been impossible to get to. Well, regardless, I have seen championship games where the other players want that handshake, where the other players will seek out their competitors to shake hands, hug, and to share a few lines. Peyton did not do that. Peyton practically stormed off the field. (I am not saying that being in that same situation I would not do that myself.)

Now, before we all go hating on Peyton, note that he did in fact call Drew Brees later that night to congratulate him on his win. When asked his thoughts on the situation, Drew Brees said, “Peyton is a class guy.” So as much as I want to say that Peyton is not a true sportsman, he did gain some credit with the phone call. But, the image he left in the minds of all of those other guys on that field, both teams, and the fans that saw him leave the field without saying a word to anyone has left a sour taste in their mouths.

So does what Peyton did make a difference in his paycheck? Does what he did affect the way he throws a football? Does what he did have any effect on the way he performs on and off the field? Of course not, as what he did was simply an in the heat of the moment reaction to a loss that he and the rest of the city of Indianapolis thought they deserved. But, note Peyton, that your actions did not go unnoticed and that I have taken a greater look at how I perceive you as a player and as a sportsman. You have a responsibility on that field, and whether you win or lose, you need to make an effort to show that you are the better man. So congratulations to the New Orleans Saints, better luck next year Indianapolis (the Associated Press poll is already showing them as the favorite to win the Super Bowl next year), and here’s to yet another season in the National Football League!