COLUMN: Peyton Manning: All-un-American hero

Santo Caruso

Anytime Peyton Manning plays, networks invariably show footage of his childhood, which, besides being plagued by a misshapen head, apparently revolved around perfect football throwing mechanics. During the New England game last Sunday, Madden mentioned that his throwing motion has not changed since he was eight years old.

Does this seem like a normal childhood to you? Is there anything you’ve done since childhood, with the exception of using the potty, exactly the same way?

The first spark of loathing I felt for Peyton came during the game nearly every Eagles fan refers to as the “Mungro Game.” The Colts came to the Vet in 2002 at 5-3 to face the 7-1 Eagles. They were without their All-Pro running back Edgerrin James, who had blown out a knee ligament earlier that season; or had been arrested, it is tough to tell with those Miami guys. The game achieved its infamy from backup runner James Mungro, a little-known player, running for 114 yards and two touchdowns, including a back-breaking 40-yarder that opened the game up.

(By the way, if you are keeping track, this has to be the greatest game in the history of Syracuse football. On top of Mungro’s game, Donovan McNabb threw for 281 yards, a touchdown and 61 yards rushing, Marvin Harrison caught 137 yards and two touchdowns and Dwight Freeney had a sack. The Orange must be so proud.)

Obviously I can’t blame Peyton for Mungro going off on a weak Eagles rush defense (Levon Kirkland was like a Thanksgiving Day float at middle linebacker). But what I can remember very clearly is sitting in the stands while he flapped his arms like he might take off and called audibles on nearly every play, yipping like a chihuahua at his lineman and shuffling players back and forth like they were all just chess pieces on his big board. I can’t even explain how annoying it was to have the flow of the game broken up like this. It felt like trying to pee and being forced to cut it off every few seconds.

And that leads me to my most incoherent point yet: Peyton Manning is un-American.

In America we value team victories over individual success. He would probably point to his 50-touchdown season and MVP award as proof of his value as a player. The career 3-6 playoff record trophy must be in the mail. That’s okay though, because he can one-up those stats. As in three touchdowns and seven interceptions in those six losses.

In America we believe in hard work and raising oneself up from the depths to achieve success. Peyton was bred for success, kind of like a race horse. His father was a star, sort of, for the Saints, and both of his brothers were successful football players, with Eli now an interception machine, or quarterback, for the Giants.

I believe the other brother, Cooper, has been locked in the basement being fed fish heads with the Manning sisters since he quit football.

So despite shoulders like a 13-year-old girl, and biceps to match, Peyton can wing the inflated skin of a cow a few miles a season. He doesn’t hit the weight room, and I am willing to bet his combined numbers resemble that of the average high school bowler, as opposed to the elite athletes surrounding him. If fictional stereotypes have taught me anything, it is that bookworms don’t win football games, meathead jocks do.

In America there is a hierarchy, not a monarchy. Manning acts as if a championship is owed to him, passed down for being the son of an NFL quarterback and the best player at the most important position in the league. He refuses to acknowledge how his antics at the line undermine his offensive coordinator and hurt his team’s chemistry. He doesn’t understand why the team can’t find any defenders, even though he selflessly took the absolute max amount of money and years, assuring that the Colts will be pressed against the salary cap for his career.

Now while Indianapolis and their giraffe-necked leader hurtle toward another postseason, whether Peyton will finally get to the Super Bowl completely depends on the players around him. Because we know he can’t get them there.