They are talking, of course, about the upcoming game pitting the Indianapolis Colts against the New England Patriots.
They paint Tony Dungy as the saintly coach, while Bill Belichick is shown as his polar opposite. They even have a little picture of Tony Dungy with angel wings and a halo; Belichick with devil horns and a tail.
While I don't agree or disagree with this analysis (I like and respect both coaches), I think they missed the real battle of good versus evil.
I am talking, of course, about Peyton Manning versus Tom Brady.
Peyton Manning = devil.
Tom Brady = saint.
As a diehard Jaguars fan, of course I root for the Colts to lose. But you know what? Aside from Peyton Manning, I like them. I like Tony Dungy. I love his humility. He's smart -- aside from Belichick, possibly the best head coach in the NFL right now. They have a great system going, and if Manning wasn't playing for the Colts, I'd have been genuinely happy to see them win the Super Bowl. Tony Dungy deserved that ring.
Peyton Manning didn't deserve to even play in the game.
He is singlehandedly the worst quarterback in the NFL right now. And no, this is not because of a lack of talent. He's a good enough quarterback (although, as I will explain later, NOT the best quarterback playing and certainly not one of the best to ever play). No, I'm talking about his egotism. His inability to handle pressure. His reliance on the rest of the team to make him look good. All these things are why I cannot stand Peyton Manning.
Watching him play almost makes me physically ill -- or gives me an uncontrollable desire to laugh hysterically at him. Whenever a play goes wrong, it's both amusing and annoying to watch him storm off to the sidelines, rip off his chin strap angrily (almost as famous a move as Steve Spurrier's visor throwing), and berate his teammates on the sidelines. Hey, buddy, who do you think you are? One of the lowest blows was when, in a press conference after a loss in the playoffs a few years back, he famously got up and blamed everyone on the team but himself.
Because, you know, he's perfect and all. His dad was Archie Manning. He's the greatest quarterback ever to grace the field with his presence -- nay, the best athlete of all time!
Watching NFL analysts swoon over him makes me more annoyed than anything else. I would be furious if I was an offensive lineman for the Colts. That offensive line -- the best offensive line in the NFL, hands down -- is why Manning is so good. Throw in a brilliant head coach, two of the best receivers playing, and a great running game, and of course Manning is going to look good. Put him on a team without all these perks and I highly doubt you'll see Mr. Laser Rocket Arm Manning doing quite as good.
It's pretty obvious by watching what happens when he gets pressured or sacked often, something the Jaguars like to do often. He gets flustered. And he makes mistakes. Simply put, Peyton Manning cannot handle high pressure games, which is why a Super Bowl ring alluded him for so long, and he crumpled in so many playoff games. Dungy had to build a fortress in front of him and give him an airtight offense before Manning could win the big game.
Yet somehow, all of the Colts success is always attributed to Manning. Why? Because he can call audibles? This is a talking point brought up often when analysts describe Manning. "He can read the defense! He can call... audibles!" It's as if he's the first quarterback ever to do so. Why the rest of the Colts offense does not receive more credit is beyond me.
Peyton Manning relies on his team to make him look good.
Perhaps the most obvious sign of his rampant egotism are his endorsements, along with his bloated salary. Who cares about the Colts salary cap? Peyton Manning's gotta get paid, dammit! And he apparently also has to appear in as many endorsements as possible.
Why people revere this man so is simply beyond me.
Which brings me to Tom Brady.
As far as I'm concerned, Tom Brady is everything that Peyton Manning is not. Humble. A team player. A quiet leader.
Tom Brady never had anything in his football career handed to him the way Peyton Manning did. He was pick #199 for the Patriots and worked his way up from fourth string. He served as a backup quarterback for Drew Bledsoe before he finally took the reins. Once he did, the Patriots soared and a dynasty was born.
One of the things I love about the Patriots, even though my Jags have been kept out of the Super Bowl by them, is how they are a team. You never get a sense in watching them that one of those players is meant to be the star of the show. I always get the feeling, that whether it's just a natural phenomenon or by Belichick's coaching, everyone on that team understands that they have a role to play and that each and every one of them is needed. With the Colts, everyone is expected to worship at the altar of Peyton Manning.
Tom Brady is a natural leader, one who works with his team when they're up, and carries them when they're down. He also doesn't take any endorsement deal thrown at him -- he's actually famously hard to get. He likes to appear with his teammates as well, another thumbs up in my book. His teammates have mentioned how down-to-earth he is, saying no matter how many endorsement deals he had, he'd still be the same guy.
Put simply, Tom Brady is everything that Peyton Manning is not. Tom Brady deserves to go down in football history and stand next to quarterback greats like Namath, Montana, Marino, Elway, Unitas, and Young. Peyton Manning is nothing like those men. Great numbers alone do not make you a great quarterback.
So this weekend (for me at least), this is a battle of good versus evil. Humility versus egotism, talent versus breeding, leadership versus freeloading.
I hope Tom Brady crushes him.