As we stumble our way through two of the most boring weeks of the year for anyone remotely interested in sports (the lull between knowing who is actually in the Super Bowl and the actual game), now is the perfect time for us to examine America’s ongoing fascination with mediocrity and disdain for success via results.
In the aftermath of the uncertainty of what the future holds for Broncos Quarterback Peyton Manning, the void left by two weeks of hype towards the Big Game allows for countless articles and commentaries discussing his place in history as one of the greats.
What is sad to watch, and is admittedly not new but seems far more pronounced and encouraged in today’s society, is the redefining of true success in our culture.
If Peyton Manning leads the Denver Broncos to a victory in Super Bowl 50, he will have won 2 of them (and lost 2 as well). Just by having two rings, he is allowed to be in the discussion of the greatest of all time. Many people argue (wrongly, in my opinion), that John Elway is the greatest ever for having won 2 while going to a total of 5 big games. The point is, that once you’ve won two NFL championship rings, you’re in rarified air and at least part of the GOAT conversation.
Manning, however, is already being praised as belonging in that group, which is absurd. We play sports, particularly at the professional level, for one reason: to win, and win at the highest level. Countless former players and coaches have been quoted as saying losing the Super Bowl or World Series is the worst feeling in the world; so much so, that they’d rather have not gone at all. Second place is no better than last to those of us truly competitive.
If Peyton Manning’s Broncos lose, he will have lost 3 Super Bowls in four chances. That is an appallingly bad record and nothing to be praised, yet it is being praised in countless articles and commentaries as morons prematurely sell us on their idiotic assertion that Manning is one of the greatest ever. To whit:
Tom Brady has the better record, but also has the better coach. Brady also has a much more standard relationship: he might have the authority to audible, but for the most part his coordinators give him a play, and some options out of it, and use one-word schematic changes if necessary.
Not so with Manning. The Sheriff has been an Offensive Coordinator for himself for years; he had complete authority to do whatever he wanted, and 97% of the time that selection was correct.
So what? First of all, taking away credit from Brady because of his coach is as lame as those who punish Troy Aikman for having amazing receivers and the best running back ever, and those who try to diminish Joe Montana for “the system,” of the genius West Coast Offense. Did I mention that both Aikman and Montana are undefeated in Super Bowls with a combined 7 rings?
No one is denying that Manning is a brilliant football mind and an incredibly talented quarterback, but championships matter most and no position in all of professional sports single handedly controls the outcome of a game than NFL quarterback. It’s like being President of the United States; you may or may not believe that Bill Clinton was the man responsible for the greatest economic boom in America’s history, but guess what? He gets the credit for presiding over it. Manning, meanwhile, must take the blame for losing 75% of the games that actually mattered if that’s how things go down on Sunday.
If Peyton manning loses a third Super Bowl, he becomes the football equivalent of that boyfriend who treats you like gold until the going gets tough, and then he crumbles into a pile of salt and assumes the fetal position, waiting for you, or an actual man, to save the day.
And that’s why America loves him so much, regardless. Results, particularly in times of the greatest stress and need, matter less and less, for we are lamer and lamer.
Go Panthers. Or Broncos without Peyton being the QB. I don’t really care either way.