Doubt won’t diminish Manning’s legacy
In one of the worst championship drubbings ever, the Broncos saw their historic season and Lombardi hopes tainted by a difficult truth: the Seahawks just wanted it more.
From the very first snap, Manning’s chance to “solidify” his legacy amongst the doubters by winning his second ring – he would have been the first starting quarterback to win a championship with two different teams – was effectively snuffed out by the nerves of Broncos center Manny Ramirez.
The Broncos never recovered and the narrative that Manning is the ultimate choker in monumental games lives on.
But would that narrative really have went away if the Broncos won their fourth Lombardi trophy?
The simple answer is no.
Even until this day, Manning’s first ring with the Colts in the Super Bowl XLII is somehow disputed because “the defense” bailed him out.
No, constructing one of the greatest playoff comebacks ever in the 2007 AFC Championship wasn’t enough for the naysayers to admit that Manning had finally earned his ring.
Apparently Manning has to play defense and special teams to be a real Super Bowl champion.
Regardless of Manning’s future, he will always be considered, by some, as the perennial playoff choke artist, and not the greatest quarterback to step onto the field. They’ll quickly overlook that he’ll likely own every major record before he retires, or that he had the greatest season by a quarterback ever at the ripe age of 37.
None of that matters to the naysayers, or “haters,” as we affectionately call them in present day conversation.
And that’s why they definitely don’t matter to the man himself, or his legion of fans.
The naysayers almost gleefully said he was finished after his fourth neck surgery.
What did he do? Oh, just returned to have one of the best seasons of his career, statistically, only to follow it up with the greatest display of quarterback play the NFL has ever seen, earning him a fifth MVP.
They now say his window has closed. He’ll never win another ring, and perhaps that’s true.
But when asked about his legacy during Super Bowl week, Manning downplayed his career achievements, their impact, while questioning the ability of a 37-year-old to even have a legacy.
If you asked him that question now, it’s safe to say that he’d draw the same conclusion.
It’d be crazy to think that a loss in the Super Bowl, no matter how great, isn’t something that can keep a player up for nights.
Manning is no exception.
He’ll do some tossing and turning, pondering what the Broncos could have done differently. Could he have fixed the protection? Is there something he could have said? Was watching more film the key?
But when the heartbreak of losing on the NFL’s greatest stage fades, Manning, who has revolutionized the game with his mind, will jump right back into the playbook.
And when he finally hands in his retirement papers, some of his mesmerizing records will fall, but a legacy that stretches far beyond the gridiron will stand firmly.
A legacy of class, professionalism, dedication, respect, and skill. A lot of skill.
So thanks for another brilliant season of football, Mr. Manning.
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