Where will Peyton Manning Play Hero Next?

You would think I would have posted something after the NYG Super Bowl win, but with almost too much to say, I’m still waiting to compile my thoughts. However, it’s the “other” Manning that has me talking today.

Watching Peyton Manning’s press conference yesterday was almost unbearable. To me, anticipating Peyton in another jersey, for some reason, is weirder than Favre, McNabb, Hines Ward, etc. Not only has Peyton done incredible things for the NFL in Indy, and with class, he has also done wonderful things for the city. The following post is about where, in my humble, armchair analyst opinion, I think Peyton will bring his talents next.

Although there has been discussion about almost every team and the viability of Peyton playing for them, I am only addressing a handful or so that are seemingly the most realistic, or the least silly of them all. My thought process is based on the following factors: strength of team (including coaches and ability to win big games), weather, input level, and opponents in the division.

Arizona Cardinals
I think this is the first possibility. It’s a climate-controlled environment, which is obviously Peyton’s NFL career experience. Of the available options, they seemingly have the strongest team regarding room for improvement with a great QB at the helm. I have no doubt that Whisenhut would move Kolb to the rear (or get rid of him) for number 18.  Fitz, Beanie, and add some former Colts? Makes sense. Plus, if Peyton is willing to play in the NFC, it’s one of the fewer adversarial teams to his lil’ brother.

Houston Texans
Not sure how viable an option this is. I see the biggest wild card as whether or not they are ready to give up on Schaub. But, with Andre Johnson, Arian Foster, and a respected coach like Kubiak, it could be attractive to Peyton. Plus, he might want to go head to head with Indy…or not.

Seattle Seahawks
I can see all the reasons in the world why the Seahawks would want him, especially to battle the surging 49ers. However, I can’t see why this would be at all attractive to Peyton. Sure they have the cap space but I’m not sure people believe the offense is an explosive as “experts” say it is. They’ve got Marshawn Lynch and in my opinion, that’s about it. And really, who wants to play in the rain all the time? Enough said.

Washington Redskins
Peyton won’t play in the same division as Eli. Period. The coach isn’t the best (despite what he thinks), the players aren’t the best, and the weather isn’t the best. And forget Eli for a minute, the NFC East is way too tricky and unpredictable to have an immediate impact creating a stand-out team, which is what most people believe Peyton wants to do.

Kansas City Chiefs
A franchised WR, a healthy RB returning to the roster, and a ho-hum division could make this attractive to Peyton. Behind the Cards and Dolphins, I see this as viable choice number three.

Miami Dolphins
My personal preference and also my number two of  strongest possibilities. Miami’s warm weather and need of a hero makes the city attractive. There’s no doubt that getting Fish fans to fill seats is more difficult than trying to herd cats. If Miami is willing to pay for other Colts, and if Reggie Bush, Brandon Marshall and Anthony Fasano have another good year (that was with Moore, imagine what they could do with Peyton?) that just might be enough reason for fans to matriculate down to Sun Life Stadium. As a business man, this would have to make sense to Stephen Ross.

Of course, in this division, there’s the Brady factor. And Peyton’s feelings on the matter is not something about which anyone can pretend to know.  As a fan, it’s my hope that he would want to go head-to-head with him twice a year, take care of it there, and then not have to worry about it in the playoffs. But, he could very well just want to deal with Brady only if and when necessary. Another potentially attractive aspect of the team is the newness of the coaching staff. While some believe this would be a deterrent for Peyton, I think it would allow him the most flexibility and room for input and control over how he wants to run things…it’s no secret Peyton likes to do that.

On the personal note, working in a community that’s assisted by the Miami Dolphins in a number of ways, I would love to see an increase in the team’s success. And, let’s be honest, I’m not a Rex Ryan fan (but I don’t mind the Jets). So to the extent that Brady and Manning would dominate the AFC East, I wouldn’t mind…much to the disappointment of my Jets-loving husband. Sorry, Sweetheart.

New York Jets
I don’t see this one happening either, and it has nothing to do with not wanting to share a city with Eli. It has everything to do with the fact that I can’t see Peyton playing for someone like Rex. Although his background is defense, thereby giving Peyton a lot of input on offense, I’m not sure Peyton is into the locker room dynamics of that team. Plus, haven’t they publicly heralded their franchise QB, Sanchez? They’ve gone to two AFC Championship games without Peyton, so what’s next- needing a new QB to cash the Super Bowl check they’ve written for three years in a row? Everyone knows they should invest in a new QB, but it won’t be Peyton, and it won’t be this year.

 

Who knew Plaxico would soften my perception of Vick?

The Roger Goodell NFL likes to enforce the idea that they have classy, law-abiding, elite athletes, who as part of the elite organization that is the NFL, act with a high level of decorum; players are punished when they break the actual law, the organization’s law, when they Tweet something they shouldn’t, when they hit a player too hard, etc. And despite this high level of decorum with which everyone should act, the Roger Goodell NFL also likes to believe that ex-felons are rehabilitated and can therefore abide by the rules. And while this blog could quickly take an ugly turn towards debating the American prison system’s claim to rehabilitate, this is about Plaxico Burress.

This is about the fact that although Plaxico may or may not have had valid complaints about Tom Coughlin, his actions and comments make it obvious the “man” has no sense of personal responsibility, is an angry person, and anything he has to say shouldn’t be taken seriously. To be clear, I am not one of those Giants fans who loved Plaxico all along, calls him a hero for winning the 2008 SB, wanted him back on the team, and is now mad at him. Yes, I acknowledge he helped win the 2008 SB for the Gmen, and yes, I acknowledge he is a talented player, but since day one, with the departure of Ike Hilliard for Plax, I was apprehensive about how his off-field shenanigans would affect the team.

Throughout his career, Plaxico had a cavalier attitude towards any semblance of rules and regulations, played out by a series of outstanding traffic tickets in Florida, domestic disputes, and civil law suits, all culminating with a self-inflicted gun shot wound to the leg. Before prison, all you heard was that NY is making an example out of him, he didn’t hurt anyone else, he was being treated unfairly for who he was, etc.

It’s interesting to me that Plaxico feels that way because it seems that America loves a comeback story- a ridiculously talented and cocky athlete who had issues with authority, didn’t think rules applied to him, was caught breaking the law, serves his time in prison, apologizes, and dedicates his “new life” to repaying those he hurt. America’s sports fans want to believe that if someone is sorry (and all of a sudden no longer has a fundamental desire to kill dogs) and pays their penance, they should be forgiven.  But, when someone does all of the above, except apologize and pay penance to those he hurt, people aren’t so forgiving.

Some highlights of Plaxico’s recent comments:

“I’m like, forget support — how about some concern?” Burress said. “I did just have a bullet in my leg. And then I sat in his office, and he pushed back his chair and goes, ‘I’m glad you didn’t kill anybody!’ Man, we’re paid too much to be treated like kids. He doesn’t realize that we’re grown men and actually have kids of our own.” He also told the magazine that Coughlin is “not a real positive coach.” (CBS Sports)

If this isn’t anything but a whiny, self-entitled, mad-at-the-world-rant from a man-child, then I don’t know what is. He is mad at Coughlin for treating him like a child? Then don’t act like one! What adult, what MAN, shoots HIMSELF in the leg, then gets mad that his boss is glad no one else was hurt? YOU DID IT TO YOURSELF! No one shot you, no one forced you to bring an illegal weapon (in NY) into the nightclub, and no one forced you to go out to a place where you felt you needed to pack heat for protection in the first place.

Then, to make things even better, he expresses his anger with Eli Manning for not being more supportive of him and coming to visit while in prison. “I was always his biggest supporter, even days he wasn’t on, ’cause I could sense he didn’t have thick skin,” Burress said. “Then I went away, and I thought he would come see me, but nothing, not a letter, in two years. I don’t want to say it was a slap in the face, but I thought our relationship was better than that.”(CBS Sports)

So not only does he want his coach to feel nothing but sorrow for him, but he is upset one of the league’s top QBs (after the SB win), who still plays in NY and has a squeaky-clean Manning family image, isn’t visiting him in prison? It wasn’t bad enough he took down Pierce with him that night, it wasn’t bad enough he left Eli without a go to WR, but now, he wants sympathy from more of the team?

My angry point is that Plaxico’s “misfortune” was all brought on by himself. To all the Giants fans who wanted Plax back, be thankful he is gone. Be thankful he wants to play for Rex Ryan who, “…when their player makes a mistake, they take ’em to the side and say, ‘We’ll get ’em next time…'” Does Plaxico not understand that he didn’t just bungle a route or have an incomplete pass where Coach could say, “shake it off”?

It’s one thing to come out of prison and say, “I really messed up, I really made a mistake, and I really want to change and show everyone I’m different.” the way Michael Vick did (forget whether or not I agree he really is a changed man, that is an entirely different topic and based on my previous comment, I am sure you can figure out my stance). It’s another thing for a player to leave prison and say,”I was a human pincushion; they were like, ‘Yeah, we finally got you, mother——‘” he said. “On the cover of the New York Post, it said ‘GIANT IDIOT!’ and I’m thinking, ‘Damn, I went and gave ’em what they wanted. I’m just another gun-toting, famous black athlete.’ ” (ESPN.com)

The article goes on to say that, “While in prison, Burress started to realize that he wasn’t just a victim, that he had chosen to take the gun into the club and…had to do things differently.” Yet his next quote (to the fans) is, “What are you doing now?…You still mad at your job? You still angry about your life? ‘Cause I’m back living my life and enjoying my family while you’re still doing the same thing… people who can’t forgive me should look in a mirror because what, they never made a mistake?”

So back to Vick- he came out of prison and basically said (through his actions), “You know what, I was the example athlete who came from a certain culture where dog-fighting is OK and I want to change that for other people so they see I made a mistake.” Whether court-mandated or not, he contributes towards the prevention of animal cruelty, has become a serious leader who studies the playbook, and is seemingly humbled in all of his interviews.

So you know what, Plaxico? You are right. You are back living your life, doing the exact same thing you did before-pointing fingers, blaming everyone else for your own actions, sounding like an angry child who has no concept of the correlation between actions and consequences. You are not taking it upon yourself to be the poster child for anti-gun violence or gun safety, you are not doing anything differently than before.

I’m not sure if it’s that Vick has a better PR rep than Plaxico, but I never thought I’d be so angry with another player’s attitude, that I’d use Vick as an example of “how to come out of prison and look like a winner”.

From Hero to Zero?

As much as I try to avoid the Brett Favre noise, I would be remiss if I didn’t at least post something surrounding the legendary quarterback. The 11-time Pro Bowler  and Super Bowl champion is the only QB in the history of the league to throw for over 70,000 yards and 500 TDs. He is also the oldest QB in the league and arguably, the most selfish.

While the public should focus on the the game and a players’ performance on the field, it’s hard to do so when a player causes so much commotion off the field, and is no longer performing at “hero” level. As such, he becomes open to scrutiny beyond the gridiron. No one begrudges someone to do something they love for as long as they can.  And most people are forgiving enough to overlook alcoholism and infidelity as long as their hero is doing well. But stop playing well and any mere mention of transgressions are exposed.

Although the recent hubbaloo surrounding his alleged text messages and personal conduct is ridiculous, it seems as though it wouldn’t be in this much of a spotlight if he hadn’t left the Jets high and dry, or if he was playing well, or if he was…..retired? Brett Favre was America’s QB and while some say he got a raw deal in Green Bay, his hemming and hawing about whether or not to play has now affected three teams. Some call it desire to play, some call it ego. But had he not made such a spectacle of himself professionally, would anyone care about him personally?

I said a few weeks ago that if the Vikings don’t do well, I have a feeling we will see Favre “retire” with an injury.
NFL.com news: Streak over? Favre says he’ll sit if throwing elbow too sore.
Sure it’s plausible that he genuinely can no longer play and confused his desire with ability, but it is also likely he is just an egomaniac who has run his course and is having trouble calling it a day. Although it was the teams’ choices, making three teams wheel and deal, wait for his decisions, and bend their training camp rules is no different than thinking he can naughtily text people and cheat on his wife and it will all be OK. (Yes she forgave him for it and it’s their business but most people forget his past.)

He is no longer America’s beloved QB. Neither his playing or potential off-field shenanigans are OK. His personal life is his own, and his family’s, but as a fan of football it’s sad to see a legend go out like this- both professionally and personally.  Many say he never should have come back this year, or the year before, or the year before that. I had no opinion but now, I almost feel embarrassed for the guy and the decisions he has made. For the sake of the Vikings, his family, his legend, his health, and whatever fans he has left, he should just bow out gracefully. Even blame it on an elbow if he has to.