The Worst Peyton Manning Retirement Take So Far, Courtesy Of Mark Kiszla
Before getting into this, let me be clear that there is no arguing against the fact that Peyton Manning is one of the best to ever play the quarterback position in the NFL. His numbers, his accomplishments and the accolades from his former teammates and coaches all speak for themselves. If it were possible to be even better than a first-ballot Hall of Famer, he'd be one.
So spare me the "hater" accusations. There is no hate here. I love football and watching Peyton Manning play the game is something that as a sports fan, I will treasure forever.
With that being said, there are some excessively reverent takes about Peyton Manning's greatness that have come out recently, the most egregious of which might be that of The Denver Post's Mark Kiszla. Now Kiszla is a fantastic writer and a respected columnist. I have personally been a fan of columns that he has written in the past. But the ridiculousness of his latest piece, entitled "Why Peyton Manning was the best QB to wear a Denver uniform," cannot be ignored.
First of all, it becomes evident early on in the column that the wording in the title is more than a little bit manipulative. Kiszla doesn't just think that Manning is the best QB to ever wear a Denver uniform, he thinks Manning's the best QB to ever wear just about any uniform.
"John Elway is the greatest player in Broncos history.
But Manning is the best quarterback to wear a Denver uniform."
I see what you did there, Mark. And I would kind of appreciate it if it weren't followed with such an embellishment of the trajectory of Manning's career. It's not crazy to put Manning on your NFL quarterback Mount Rushmore. Just don't spend an entire column manipulating the facts.
"Although Manning had one year remaining on his contract, the Broncos were not-so-subtly pushing him out the door, which had to chafe the pride of an athlete with Hall-of-Fame credentials. He could have waited, let Denver release him, and when training camps opened later this year, there almost certainly would have been one desperate NFL team begging for Manning to grab his helmet.
Manning, however, made the smart choice. He checked his ego, his heart and made the smart play, which, when you think about it, was the perfect testimony to a quarterback always known more for his brain power than arm strength."
Hold your horses there buddy. There was absolutely nothing smart about Manning choosing to play these last two seasons of his career. He and the Broncos suffered one of the most embarrassing defeats in NFL history against the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII. They got their butts kicked by an underwhelming Colts team in the 2014-15 divisional round, and then their defense literally carried Manning to a win in Super Bowl 50.
Manning's win in Super Bowl 50 was perhaps the best testament to his legacy as a player-coach and team leader because he was so ill-equipped to offer much else. This is not to say that he didn't deserve it, but make no mistake, if he had really checked his ego and made the smart move he would not have played this last season. Just because it worked doesn't mean in was inherently the right decision. Were it not for Von Miller, Manning would never have even made it to the Super Bowl.
"In 2012, after an intense courtship, Manning came to Denver and made “Omaha!” famous. With the Broncos, a veteran quarterback unceremoniously dumped by Indianapolis taught everybody in Colorado how much it meant to have an elite NFL team again."
Excuse me? Unceremoniously dumped? He was a 35-year-old quarterback that had to have his entire neck reconstructed and admittedly couldn't complete a throwing motion. He missed the entire 2011 season. Sticking with him at that point would've been a horrible mistake. Even still, when the Colts decided to release him after understandably tanking the season to acquire Andrew Luck, the owner CRIED at the press conference and announced that no Colts player would ever wear the number 18 again.
That's anything but unceremonious. Plus if we're all being honest, Manning would have been hard pressed to win a Super Bowl with the Colts had he stayed. That franchise refuses to invest in defense or a running game, which has impeded Luck's ability to thrive. The Broncos were the perfect team for an aging star like Manning.
"No, it wasn't always perfect...With an edge to his voice, Manning told the NFL to bring on an investigation into suggestions his recovery from multiple neck surgeries might be linked to human growth hormone. He quietly endured the regurgitation of a 20-year-old story in which a female trainer at the University of Tennessee accused him of sexual harassment, with the court of public opinion divided into camps that will love Manning forever and skeptics who doubt the down-home image portrayed when the quarterback sings about chicken parm on television."
No, you didn't read that wrong. Kiszla just described how Peyton Manning "quietly endured the regurgitation of a 20-year-old story" about a woman who claims he sexually harassed her. Holy shit.
Women in this country fight every day to have their stories of sexual harassment and violence taken seriously, and the issue of sexual abuse on college campuses has been exposed more and more as the years go by. Women have "quietly endured" being sexually assaulted since the beginning of time. Diminishing that with any kind of implication that the rich, white football player is a victim is just short of horrifying.
Kiszla is approaching dangerous territory with a statement like that. Peyton Manning didn't "endure" anything. That's a terrible choice of words. He was entitled before he ever even stepped foot on Tennessee's campus, and he has enjoyed the privilege of celebrity and protection of his own personal life for the better part of twenty years. Kiszla has to know that as well as anyone.
"No quarterback in history has controlled the chaos of football more skillfully."
"No. 18 has prepared 18 pro seasons to say goodbye."
"America's quarterback will stand up Monday and bid the game he loves farewell."
America's quarterback? That's a bit of a projection. I think there are some people in Seattle, Green Bay, Carolina, New England and various other places that would be to differ.
"Bring a hankie.
There will be a tear of joy for every one of the 539 touchdown passes Manning has thrown."
Oh good lord. What is with this guy and the touchdown passes? How about I shed three tears instead; one for every touchdown he ever threw in a Super Bowl.
If people are already rewriting history in relation to his legacy and he hasn't even officially retired, I shudder to think how he will be remembered in 15 years. Peyton Manning deserves an iconic farewell. He was an incredible player. He was an all-time great. But if you're a grown man shedding 539 tears over this, I suggest you seek help.
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