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Matt Shepard

Shep's Take: Peyton Manning vs. Critics

 
Shep's Take: Peyton Manning vs. Critics
Posted February 4th, 2014 @ 11:18am

The better team won the Super Bowl on Sunday, and it wasn't even close. 

Seattle dominated in all four phases: offense, defense, special teams and coaching. There were a number of storylines to the game, including Peyton Manning's so-called legacy. Personally, I think is legacy is in tact. He's a unanimous first-ballot Hall of Famer. He is the first ever four-time, and now five-time MVP, a Super Bowl champion and a Super Bowl MVP.

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When he first started setting records in the league, everyone demanded he win a Super Bowl before crowning him great. Now that he's done that, people want more to suggest he's in the conversation of greatest of all-time. Why do people always fail to recognize just how difficult it is to win, or how hard it is to even get his team to the playoffs in the first place? Just because he makes the game look relatively easy, doesn't mean it is.

Find me another athlete, in a team sport, who is judged solely on the championship game. It doesn't matter how he plays in Week 1, Week 8 or even the first round of the playoffs. It's all about the Super Bowl. If Manning doesn't win it, then it's a failed season. No other player carries that burden.

Look, even had he won Sunday, he wouldn't have convinced skeptics he was the best ever. Joe Montana went 4-0 in Super Bowls, with three MVP awards, and never threw a pick. Tom Brady has three Super Bowl titles.

I had someone tell me they cheered when Manning lost the Super Bowl because they think he's phony.  Are we that cynical now? Have athletes like Lance Armstrong and Tiger Woods and Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa really ruined our trust in today's players, so much that we can't give anyone the benefit of the doubt? We will complain that multi-millionaires don't care enough about the fans, and then bash a guy who constantly proves he does. We rant and rave about players who are selfish, and don't act professional. Then a player like Manning does just that, and we fail to acknowledge it.

It's not just how Manning handles his business on the field, but off it as well. You know the stories of giving back to the community, both in Indy and Denver, his hospital visits and his willingness to sign autographs.

After Sunday's game, he made a small gesture to Seattle corner Richard Sherman that did not go unnoticed by the "best cover corner" in the game. Sherman later tweeted that Manning is the classiest player he's ever met and defended him from critics. I don't suppose it will matter though. Our society takes way too much joy in the disappointments of others, especially when it gives us a chance to show our true hypocritical side.

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