Monday, February 05, 2007

Removing the Monkey

As die hard citizens of Patriot Nation this is a mildly bitter Monday for us. Peyton Manning finally got the monkey off of his back and won The Big One. We watched very little of it -- some of the first half, a bit of the third quarter and the final 1:19 of the fourth. The game held little interest for us.

What was fascinating however was the post-game celebration. It may have been the rain, or it may have been utter exhaustion at finally having lived up to expectations, but the Colts were very subdued. No Colt, however, was more subdued than Manning. There was very little emotion, never mind jubilation, on his face at finally having stuffed his critics. No matter what else we may think of him, he will now, always, be a Super Bowl Winning quarterback.

He appeared nearly uninterested. Maybe he was overwhelmed by the whole thing, but it all seemed quite stilted and unnatural -- as if he were not really there in the moment. Perhaps one of the most illuminating things about the post-game ceremony was Manning's interaction with Bob Saunders -- the Colts' terrific safety. They hugged each other on the podium as if meeting for the first time. It was weird.

One of the most hilarious parts of the post-game celebration happened when CBS's Jim Nantz flubbed the pass-off of the Vince Lombardi trophy. Rather than passing it to Sanders as he was supposed to do, he had Manning pass the trophy to the team with these words: "I'm sure you can't wait to share this with your team." Perhaps he was being ironic, but we doubt it, this is Jim Nantz after all. Does he know nothing of Manning? Has he not been able, all of these years, to see through his man-crush and see that Manning hates his teammates?

We think that this is the reason for Manning's recalcitrance. The Colts' victory in SB XLI was a total team effort. Manning proved again and again that he couldn't win the big one alone as had been prophesied his whole life, and as he had come to believe. He needed his teammates to play brilliantly as well in order to win. As a result, his self image was shattered during this year's playoff run. While a terrific QB, he couldn't do it alone despite what his dad, his pre-pro-coaches, his agent and all the fawning sportswriters in the US had been telling him for his entire career. He won, but he did it as a a teammate and that, for Manning probably removed much of his joy at finally the removing the monkey from his back.

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