Look. It’s gone. The monkey is finally off Peyton Manning’s back. Arguably he was the greatest college quarterback ever, and is one of the greatest ever in the NFL. Especially of you look at his stats (I mean football stats, not AOL stats). He is easily the most highly visible player in the game today considering you can’t watch TV for more that 15 minutes or open a magazine without seeing him endorsing some product.
But even with all his skills and popularity, his detractors could never let go of the fact that Peyton could never win “the big game.” It’s something that’s haunted him since college. The say he was denied the Heisman trophy because he never beat Florida in his four years at Tennessee. (And if you’ve spent any time around this blog, TN vs. FL is always the big game.) Sure, he won a conference championship while at Tennessee, but the Vols won a national championship the year after he graduated.
Ever since, he has been leading the Indianapolis Colt. Racking up records and leading them nowhere. Until now. Actually Peyton conquered the big game monkey (in my opinion) two weeks ago when the Colts beat the Patriots for the AFC title. That win finally shut a lot of people up, but there were still those who were saying, “Sure…but he can’t win the Superbowl.”
But now he has. The Colts took care of the Chicago Bears 29-17. (For lovers of irony, it turns out that the bears quarterback Rex Grossman played his college years at Florida. Even though he and Peyton never faced off in college-Peyton is a few years older–someone remarked that finally someone from Tennessee beat someone from Florida).
It was an evening of firsts. The first Superbowl with two African-American coaches facing off. The first Superbowl played in the rain. And the first Superbowl ring for Peyton Manning. Here’s to it not being his last.