What is it with us sports fans?
We don’t like to admit how great a player is until they retire. Great players seemingly become better, sometimes nearly immortal, once they step off the field for the final time.
The further removed they are from their playing days the better we believe they were…even if only in our minds. For whatever reason, we just can’t enjoy greatness until greatness is gone.
Look no further than Peyton Manning and the endless discussion this week of how this Super Bowl is going to affect, maybe even define, his legacy.
Never mind the amazing 16 year career he has strung together compiling video game numbers in real life football. It all boils down to this one game…or so the nauseating Super Bowl coverage would lead you to believe.
Many talking heads seem to believe that with a win, Manning will finally be allowed into the discussion of the “Best Quarter Back of All-Time.” IF he wins.
Should he lose, those same talking heads would lead you to believe that Manning is simply a good quarter back that couldn’t win the “Big One.”
No other position in sports has their legacy so closely tied to championships as an NFL quarterback. We conveniently look past the fact that a quarter backs is completely reliant on his line to protect him, his receivers to run the right routes and catch the ball, his defense to stop someone and his special teams to do their job – not blow the game.
Apparently those aspects of the game don’t affect the Super Bowl, just the quarterback. And, until the quarterback hoist the Lombardi high into the confetti littered sky, he isn’t permitted in the conversation of best quarter back.
Win one Super Bowl and we will let your name enter the conversation. Win just one and those that hold the “Best Quarter Back Conversation” keys will hold it against you – because one title just isn’t enough.
That’s where we are with Manning. Despite what our eyes (and common sense) told us, for years Manning wasn’t allowed to be in the “Best Quarter Back” discussion – until he won a Super Bowl.
Then he won one, and the carrot moved. Sure, he won one, but so did Trent Dilfer, Brad Johnson, etc. Manning needed more than one to justify his place in history.
Then he gets to another Super Bowl and loses, and now we question his ability to play in big games again. If he wins Sunday, he may be the best of all time. If he loses, he is overrated.