Whenever I think of Peyton Manning - which is quite often - two funny things come to mind. First, there was actually serious debate six years ago as to whether Manning or Ryan Leaf should be the No. 1 draft pick. Secondly, there was actually serious debate two years ago as to whether or not Peyton Manning was overrated. Now these two things might not be "ha ha" funny, like Margaret Cho, if she were funny. No - they're "funny" in the sense of "I can't believe people are so stupid."
The Indianapolis Colts were not stupid however, when they selected Manning with the #1 pick in 1998, leaving the San Diego Chargers to select Ryan Leaf, who went on to have a more hilarious career than Margaret Cho, if you can imagine. And last year, Manning put to rest all the talk of him being overrated by a) winning a share of the MVP award, b) winning a playoff game (two games, actually), and c) becoming the highest paid quarterback since Alex Rodriguez (who played quarterback in high school, but now does something else.)
Peyton Manning is currently orchestrating the greatest quarterbacking display in NFL history. He is doing whatever he wants on the football field. He throws touchdown passes like it's his job. And even though it IS his job to throw touchdown passes, he's exceeding the company quota, to use a more blue-collar analogy. For example, my quota here is to churn out one (1) column per week. But if Peyton Manning were here, he would have already thrown 44 touchdown passes. Does that make more sense? Good.
So how does he do it? How does Peyton Manning make it look so easy? Well, we tried to track him down for a one-on-one interview to find out his secrets, but he declined, claiming he had "never heard of (me)." Of course, I'm kidding - we never tried to track him down. Besides, I think it's better for everyone involved if I just make up what I THINK Peyton Manning would say with regards to topics such as a) football, b) Peyton Manning, c) Ron Artest, d) life in general, and e) Christmas.
Manning told me that the secret to his success on the football field was his ability to spread the ball around. He is obviously blessed with many talented wide receivers, including Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, and Brandon Stokley, and he prefers not to focus on just one. He told me that he imagines all of his receivers as just one giant bagel, and he likes to "spread the ball around like cream cheese." I thought that was a pretty weird way to put it, but hey - it seems to work.
When asked to describe himself, Peyton Manning never referred to himself in the third person, which is a tendency of many high-profile athletes. Instead, he called himself, "The Guy Who is Going to Destroy Dan Marino's Puny Record." (At one point during the interview, he said, "The Guy Who is Going Destroy Dan Marino's Puny Record is thirsty. Someone get him a drink for crying out loud.") But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that he actually WAS referring to himself in the third person, but he was just using an even more egotistical moniker. Nevertheless, Peyton Manning said he was very down-to-earth, and he is actively involved in charity work. Also, he likes kittens.
Peyton Manning thinks what Ron Artest did was wrong, but also added that "it's difficult to say what you would do until you're actually put in that situation." When asked if he had purchased Artest's latest hip-hop album, Manning replied, "No."
Manning believes that life, especially when you're a professional football player, can get crazy at times. He acknowledged that people are always after him for something - whether it be money, free Gatorade, or fake interviews. Nevertheless, he urged everyone (me, in particular) to just "try your best." He added, "If you just apply yourself, one day you can throw 44 touchdown passes. In the game of life." Then I told him to "go long" and he said he was just using "metaphors." Whatever.
And finally, when asked about the upcoming Christmas holiday, Manning said he was looking forward to spending time with his family, especially his younger brother Eli, who is currently experiencing some growing pains as the quarterback of the New York Giants. Peyton said that if he could give his brother anything for the holidays, it would be "a new offensive line." When asked what HE was requesting from Santa this year, Peyton replied, "Nothing. I have everything I want right here. Oh wait - how about a new defense? Do you think Santa can bring me a new defense? I've been extra-specially good this year!"
You sure have, Peyton Manning.
You sure have.