Appreciating Manning Never Gets Old

rsz_peyton_coltsPeyton Manning is polarizing. He is mesmerizing yet infuriating. He is the best regular season quarterback in the history of football, but his postseason record raises questions. He gets everyone talking one way or another whether it’s good or bad. That’s what great players do.

Count me as one of those guys that appreciate Manning year in and year out. This isn’t about whether or not he can win championships. This is about enjoying him for entertaining us for 15 seasons as a NFL quarterback. He also does good commercials, too.

Manning did it again last night. He threw three touchdowns and 269 yards in the Broncos’ 31-24 victory over the Colts. With the way he was throwing in the first half, it’s surprising he did not throw seven touchdowns in that game. Part of the problem could have been the Broncos were conservative in the second half, but we digress.

Still, Broncos fans are all about perfection and winning it all that they take Manning’s performances for granted. That’s fine. It’s their prerogative. It’s what fans do. It’s the type of attitude that made them take John Elway for granted in the 80s and 90s until he retired and the Broncos struggled to find a replacement for Elway.

It took 13 years until the Broncos found one in Manning. Ironically, it was Elway that convinced the former Colts quarterback to play for the Broncos. So it’s funny that some Broncos fans get on him still. To each their own.

When the Broncos quarterback put on a show like last night, it’s easy to separate his postseason failures and his ability on the field. The NFL is about showbiz first and foremost. That’s what makes the league popular, and that’s what makes them the most profitable league in professional sports. The future Hall of Fame quarterback does that, and that’s why his jerseys sell out frequently.

For Manning to play at a MVP level at 38 years old is incredible, especially after coming off neck injury. Odds are great both of those quarterbacks can play until they are 45, and they can do it at a MVP level. It’s a credit to how great they are and how they take care of their bodies all season long.

The ultimate compliment of Manning is he makes it look easy. He makes you wonder how he does that. It’s like watching Pablo Picasso paint. It’s not just how he throws the ball, but how he has his guys operating in a sequence through hand signals or instructions. When he was screaming “OMAHA!” in the huddle, it was entertaining, but it was more about him telling his receivers where he can find them.

When Manning plays, it’s about what records he will break.

He should break Brett Favre’s all-time touchdown record next month. He already had the record of throwing most touchdown passes of a NFL quarterback in NFL history last night by throwing 36 touchdown passes. He finally joined Brett Favre as the only two quarterbacks that beat all 32 teams in the NFL.

The Broncos quarterback set single-season records last year with 55 touchdown passes and  5,477 passing yards as the Broncos scored more points than any team in history by scoring 606 points.

You keep waiting for him to make more history, and that’s the beauty of watching him. You never know what he will do. He is the main event for a reason.

Go ahead and rip him for postseason failures. It’s part of the deal, but that should not ruin the enjoyment of watching him play. Regular season football should be about entertainment until the real deal comes in January. After all, the regular season is an exhibition for Broncos fans, right? Before fretting about January, enjoy watching him do his thing.

It’s hard to find great quarterbacks like Manning. If it was that easy, all 32 teams would have great quarterbacks. Elway knows it as much as anyone, which is why he pulled all the stops to get his guy. As fun as it was to watch Tim Tebow do his thing with the Broncos, it was hard to believe he was going to be great. His magic run would have run out.

Manning is so fun to watch. He does things no one can teach. He does things that will make you say WOW! He is a magician when it comes to playing football where he makes something happen. There has to be an appreciation for that, right?

Society has conditioned us to be spoiled and bitter where it’s okay to disparage anyone, especially great quarterbacks. Nothing is good enough. We now have to mention legacy when great players play in the postseason rather than enjoy them for what they are. We have to have debates on a player thanks to ESPN’s First Take. We shouldn’t hail someone since it should be expected. It isn’t just Manning. LeBron James has been crucified for not winning championships every year by folks like ESPN’s Skip Bayless and others.

Again, great players are fair game when it comes to being judged on championships. It’s what they should play for.

It should not ruin anyone’s enjoyment of watching a great player, too.

Performances by Manning like last night should never be taken for granted. It should be appreciated now.

With years going so fast, he will be gone soon enough.

It shouldn’t take until Manning is retired to appreciate what he is doing right now.

Contact or follow Leslie Monteiro: @LightRodWriter

Leslie Monteiro

Leslie Monteiro

Leslie is a contributor for Lightning Rod Sports. He covered high school sports in Bergen County out in North Jersey, and has written op-ed columns on sports such as Bleacher Report and NY Sports Digest.

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