I've known about Peyton Manning for quite a while now. I suppose that's true of anyone who follows football. Son of Archie Manning, who played for the hapless Saints, Peyton took a detour. Rather than play at pop's alma mater, he headed to Tennessee. Prior to Manning, one Heath Shuler was the Tennessee star.
Shuler's NFL career would send him to the Redskins, but not to success. Eventually, he'd leave the NFL, then start a real estate agency, then run for political office.
Manning, on the other hand, would help win an SEC championship, but never the national title. He'd come close twice to winning the Heisman, but not quite. Then, he'd turn pro, drafted number 1, when deciding between Manning and Leaf mattered, play every game his rookie year for the, then, abysmal Colts, racking up yards and interceptions and losses.
And being touted as the smartest quarterback, the best quarterback, on teams that would get out of the gates with strong starts, and have MVP seasons, and never even get a whiff of the Super Bowl.
The Patriots would often be the reason why. Tom Brady, drafted in the sixth round, playing behind Drew Bledsoe, until injury let him start and win and win, until he never relinquished his starter role. And as much as things change on the Patriots, they'd go on to win three Super Bowls. Is Brady that good? Or Belichick? Are both meant for each other?
And Tony Dungy. He took the Bucs from laughing stock to playoff contender, playing the kind of defense that made 13-10 victories seem like a walk in the park. Despite his success, they wanted someone else, sometime like Jon Gruden, Chucky, and he'd take Dungy's team and win a Super Bowl.
Dungy would head to the Colts and try to teach this high powered offense how to play defense. But with so much money tied to the offense, money for the defense wasn't there, and so Dungy tried his best to get the defense the way he wanted, and while they struggled the year long, they have caught fire just as Manning has played awfully, giving up five interceptions in two games. The defense has come through.
And it's lead to this. Another meeting of Patriots and Colts, or as some people put it, Manning vs. Belichick.
This time, though, it's not in the freeze of New England but within the dome of Indianapolis.
And the drama is mounting. Can Peyton win the big one? Does Brady have his number? Whose kicker reigns supreme?
Are you ready for some football?
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