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Peyton Manning is the chosen one: NFL Unfiltered Week 5

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Through five weeks, Peyton Manning is playing as well as an NFL quarterback can possibly play- but his regular season performance is mostly irrelevant. 

Here we go again.  

Let me preface the rest of this column by stating without equivocation, Manning is one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time.  He is absolutely in my Top 12 and it wouldn’t take a lot of convincing for me to place him at the back end of my Top 10.  

However, he has weaknesses like every player, and each time Manning has a record-breaking stretch of games, those shortcomings are ignored.  

Still, anyone paying attention to the NFL, Manning’s career, and the obstacles that await, are too savvy to fall for the trap.  We know one of those two TD, two-pick performances where the defense befuddles him, is just beyond the horizon.  Yet, rather than talk in measured tones, the media leads cheers.  

Here we go again.  Peyton Manning photo: USAToday.com

Perhaps most troubling is the fact that any criticism of Manning is dismissed as hate by his apologists.  Make no mistake, Manning is a tremendous regular season quarterback, but pointing out his flaws does not constitute hate.  

No, this isn’t about his 9-11 record in the playoffs as a starting quarterback. Nor is it about current head coach—John Fox—taking the ball out of Manning’s hands in last year’s divisional playoff. This isn’t even about the fact that Dominic Rhodes had a better game than Manning in Super Bowl XLI.  This is merely an attempt to slow the Manning hype train.  

Here we go again.  

Why is it so difficult to speak of Manning’s career in context?  Why can’t the experts say he’s a terrific player but has blind spots that often cripple him in big moments?  It’s as if once a player reaches a certain level of excellence and avails himself to the media, he’s beyond criticism.  

It’s time for those getting paid for deft NFL analysis to stop offering up gems like, “he has a doctorate level” understanding of football.  

Here we go again.  

Interestingly, Manning’s media cocoon began in college when we’d all tune in to watch “The Chosen One,” only to see Florida get the best of him again, and again, and again.  

Still, we were told his Tennessee teammates weren’t as talented as the Gators.  Those who questioned Manning’s play in those losses were deemed unfair.  Yet, NFL teams drafted 39 of Manning’s teammates, which means he couldn’t beat Florida- despite the terrific athletes on Tennessee’s roster.   

Then, Manning’s advocates suggested former Volunteers’ head coach Phillip Fulmer couldn’t compete with Steve Spurrier’s coaching skills, but Fulmer and the Volunteers beat Florida and won the national title the year after Manning graduated.  

Here we go again.  

Fast-forward through his pro career and Manning’s minions faulted everyone from Edgerrin James to Tony Dungy for his playoff missteps.  Even Manning himself got in on the fray when he said, “I’m trying to be a good teammate here … but we had some problems with protection!” after a poor playoff performance against the Steelers. Terrell Owens couldn’t have said it better.  

Assuming the Broncos reach the Super Bowl—no guarantee in my view—New Jersey’s winter winds and frigid temperatures will factor into that game.  And based on Manning’s struggles in cold weather, isn’t all this praise premature?  

Like LeBron James in the NBA, Manning’s career demands we judge him by how he performs in the playoffs.  Not that he has to win a certain number of championships, but he shouldn’t come up small like he has so many times the last fifteen years.  Especially, when he is deified throughout the regular season.    

Here we go again.  

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THINGS THE PUNDITS CAN’T OR WON’T SAY: Week 5

-When you begin a game with a false start penalty, it’s fair to wonder if all the emphasis on speed lends itself to a lack of attention to detail.

-Nick Foles played well, but LeSean McCoy’s job just got appreciably tougher now that defenses don’t have to worry about the quarterback running.

-It doesn’t matter what Foles or Michael Vick do the remainder of the season, neither is the Eagles’ opening day starter in 2014.  In fact, that guy isn’t currently on the roster.  

-The notion Eli Manning is forcing things and developing bad habits because his team is bad is a false narrative created by former teammates masking as NFL analysts.  I mean you, Tim Hasselbeck.    

-During the Broncos/Cowboys broadcast, Phil Simms said the 2013 Broncos are the most talented offensive group Peyton Manning’s ever played with.  I usually like Simms, but these prisoners of the moment outbursts are ridiculous.  In 2003, the Indianapolis Colts featured Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, Brandon Stokely, Dallas Clark, Marcus Pollard, Edgerrin James, Dominic Rhodes and Ricky Williams. Please stop the nonsense.  

-Despite their records, the Packers are more dangerous than the Saints because they are making a successful commitment to running the football.  

-Percy Harvin better return soon because the Seahawks’ offense isn’t sustainable.  

-The Atlanta Falcons have a good quarterback, excellent receivers and very little else.  They’re so far offshore, and it will take years to recover. 

 

Earl Myers is a freelance writer from the Philadelphia area.  He closely follows North America's four major sports leagues but just about any sporting event gets his attention. His goal is to provoke a little thought in his readers.

 

Contact Earl at emyersiii@gmail.com  and follow him on Twitter @EMyersIII

 

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Manning photo: USAToday.com