Appreciate Greatness While You Can

by Bert Beiswanger

PeytonManningIt won’t go away: If you were starting a team right now, would you take Peyton Manning or Andrew Luck? It’s not Colts versus Broncos, it’s Luck versus Manning. Over and over, the media bangs this over our heads.

Word of advice: Stop for a moment today and just appreciate greatness.

Yes, in the now and by the gut, Luck is hard to argue against. I don’t think that’s a tough call to make in 2015. Luck does oh so much and is the future of greatness.

But through all the minutia we go through in making these comparisons, we sometimes lose sight of the good over time and focus way too much on the bad: the losses, the plays that weren’t made. We also focus way too much on the parts we want and ignore the whole.

Manning is not same this year. It won’t be fair to me to pick him apart this year. The one thing I will say is that looking at history and statistics, the fate of anyone’s career can turn on a play by anyone on the field at any time.

If the Colts recover an onside kick versus the Saints in the Super Bowl and/or Pierre Garcon catches a slant pass and take it to the house, the Colts win another Super Bowl.

If Mike Vanderjagt hits a big kick against Pittsburg?…who knows what happens in overtime. I know Adam Vinatieri never missed big ones for the Patriots back in the day.

If Rahim Moore of the Denver Broncos doesn’t fall down like an eight year old trying to catch a fly ball and blow that game against Baltimore a couple years ago, the Broncos probably go to the Super Bowl that year.

How about that Jets Playoff game a few years ago at Lucas Oil Stadium? Manning drives the team down the field for the go ahead score (thanks also to another clutch Vinatieri field goal), and the game was lost due to a mix of special teams and coaching ineptitude.

Look at the other side of the coin – the Tom Brady side. Due to an insane tuck rule in the Playoffs versus the Oakland Raiders, the Patriots don’t win a Super Bowl that year.

During Pittsburg’s most recent run to a Super Bowl appearance, the Ravens had three turnovers inside their own 25-year-line to give Pitt 21 points. Yet, that win gets attributed to Ben Roethlisberger and his 50-yard TD pass late, not the Steelers defense or Baltimore’s inability to take care of the football.

Do not miss-interpret all of this for discrediting greats like Brady or Big Ben – not at all. Those guys are clutch players and among the best to lace ’em up. My point is so much goes into a game. A few plays here and there – in any fashion – can change the course of history. Shoot, if the Colts recover the onside kick and Moore doesn’t miss-play that ball, I don’t think anyone is having these types of discussions. Manning would have two, maybe three Super Bowls right now.

Yet, when talking about the greatest and Manning’s Playoff history, you would think – according to some – the guy shows up and lays eggs. That simply isn’t true. In fact, Manning has had some outstanding Playoff performances – certainly the run to the Super Bowl in 2009 with brilliant performances against two of the top three defenses in the league in the Ravens and Jets.

Before this year’s Playoffs, Manning’s career playoffs QB rating was #10 all-time and higher than Brady, Roethlisberger, Troy Aikman and others. Eli Manning, Mark Sanchez, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers were the only active QBs with higher Playoff QB ratings (Russell Wilson has since moved to the top after yesterday’s performance).

Does that mean Peyton has been an outstanding playoff QB? No. But he hasn’t exactly laid eggs in the playoffs, either.

Sure there were times Peyton didn’t play well, no doubt about it. But to blame him for all of the Playoff ills over the years is not fair and simply not accurate.

All of this may come across as making excuses for Peyton. If that’s the perception, oh well. I really don’t care. All I know is I’m realistic enough to understand there are multiple nuances that come into play in the game of football – line play, defense, special teams, running game, penalties, coaching, you name it.

I also know is the clock is ticking on watching one of the VERY BEST to ever play the game. Waste your time if you want comparing this guy versus that guy, but I am going to soak in the opportunity to watch a future Hall of Famer in Manning and one of the next greats in Luck.

Follow on Twitter @BertBeis

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