In some parallel universe, the end of Super Bowl 50 is a heartwarming affair, with an aging legend riding the coattails of a young, brilliant defense to one last title … one glorious final run that ends with a gimpy old man sitting atop the shoulders of his teammates and being carried off into the sunset, with a tasteful Jerry Goldsmith film score playing in the background. That’s a pleasant enough ending. That’s an ending you can feel good about.
That’s not the ending we got on Sunday night. On Sunday night, what we got was an over-the-hill, shitty player who had to be dragged to a title by a world-class defense … a player who was benched for ineffective play earlier this season and was reinstated to the starting lineup only because his replacement was equally ineffective.
And how did Peyton Manning celebrate this good fortune? By kissing fucking Papa John and openly shilling for Budweiser. The biggest, most wonderful moment at the end of a storied career, and he’s selling me shitty beer.
Fuck this guy.
I’ve never liked Peyton Manning. Back in 1997, Charles Woodson beat him out for the Heisman and I was so happy that I drunkenly threw a chair across the room (it made sense at the time). Even when he played the Patriots, I sided with New England. Do you know how annoying you have to be to have a Boston team be the preferable rooting alternative? The worst thing is that no matter what he’s done—whether harassing a trainer or losing yet another game to Steve Spurrier, casually tossing his line under the bus or sending hired goons to strong-arm the family of someone claiming that he shot donkey placenta cells into his face—he has gotten the benefit of the doubt from Phil SEEMS and the like. It’s amazing that you can buy off the media for life simply by being football royalty and remembering their names when they ask something at a press conference.
And Manning has gotten this preferential treatment despite the fact that, for two decades, he has played the most robotic, boring, aesthetically unexciting brand of football possible. Peyton is quarterback-as-floorslapper: shuffling his feet, flapping his stupid arms, crying out OMAHA, deploying every last possible distraction tactic on a defense and piling up records without any semblance of athletic grace or style. Was it effective? Of course it was. Was it FUN? No. Jesus, no. My ideal NFL Films compilation is Tracy Porter picking off Peyton on a continuous, nine-hour loop.
So when the Broncos spent all of yesterday actively pulling a Floyd Mayweather and avoiding ANY semblance of offensive risk, I felt no joy at all to see it pay off. And deep down, I’m sucker for anything. I’ll watch any title game celebration, no matter the sport. I cry during movie trailers. Give me the phoniest redemption tale and I’ll usually buy it. But for Peyton Manning? No. No, screw that. I felt nothing.
In fact, I became actively annoyed that CBS kept trying to push the storybook angle on me. The fuck does Peyton Manning need MORE adulation for? Was this guy’s life not already a golden road? Why does a millionaire and surefire Hall-of-Famer require a perfect ending? The way Manning played in that game, and the way the Broncos game-planned, he certainly didn’t deserve that. Who wants to see Extreme Martyball rewarded? He deserved to lose 87-0.
But he didn’t. The Broncos defense crushed the Panthers, and Peyton Manning gets to go out a champion despite being incidental to his team’s success (and he gets to retire without worrying about any kind of pesky PED suspension). And I’m supposed to pretend this is nice for HIM when enough nice things have happened to Peyton Manning already and when, for all I know, he’s a miserable wretch of a human being. Not a chance. Fuck Peyton. Fuck Peyton forever.
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