Rooting For Greatness

| January 22nd, 2010

I hate Cinderella.

I hate when underdog teams emerge for a pseudo-magical playoff run and prevent us all from experiencing that which links generations of sports fans: greatness.  The most dominant team of the modern football era, the 2007 New England Patriots, lost a Super Bowl title on an awkward helmet grab by now Ravens special teamer David Tyree.  While the celebration erupted from Manhattan to Moonachie, football fans were denied the right to compare a brilliant squad to the Dolphins of ’72 or the Bears of ’85.  The 2007 Pats were now the Dolphins of ’84 and Bears of ’06.

I know some of the responses will be, “Boo hoo hoo.  If you’re great, win.  If not, stop crying.”  Understandable.  But football, more than any other sport, often goes the way the ball bounces.  The Jets didn’t force Nate “Needs a New Nickname” Kaeding to shank chip shot fieldgoals in clutch situations.  They didn’t force “Dr. Ian” Malcolm Floyd to commit a moronic, off-play block in the back penalty that halted was what might have been a game-icing drive.  They showed up and they played and the ball bounced their way.  More specifically it rolled right off the legs of Vincent Jackson and into the arms of Darrelle Revis.

I think Peyton Manning is the greatest football player to ever play the game.  And my philosophy is whenever the Bears don’t win a championship, I hope Peyton does.  I want to look back in twenty years and revel in the knowledge that I saw this guy play quarterback and win multiple titles in an era designed to prevent teams from prolonged success.  Calling his own plays at the line of scrimmage against the most complicated defenses the game has ever known.  Making stars out of players like Pierre Garcon.  Sending off his punting unit on fourth down.  Peyton is what I love about football.

And I hope he attacks Revis.  The Jets’ cornerback has been the revelation of the 2009 football season, shutting down every elite wide receiver he lined up against.  He hasn’t been great.  He’s been superhuman.  If Manning and Wayne can do what no other combination has done all season, what a story that would make.  

I root for Peyton Manning and I don’t apologize for it.  He’s everything I want my team to be.  And if players like that don’t reach the greatest levels in the sport, what’s to inspire the Chicago Bears to be that good?  What’s to inspire Jay Cutler?