Who is Peyton Manning?

Showing us exactly what he is made of has always been a problem for Peyton Manning. He has danced around the thin line between choker and winner throughout his career. Unlike Joe Namath, John Elway and Joe Montana, we haven’t figured out what type of man Peyton Manning is.

Maybe this time, he can help us out a little.

In the coming days, the man who some have already dubbed the greatest quarterback of all-time could be made the highest paid quarterback of all-time. Only one problem, the salary cap. To take a contract upwards of $25 million would no doubt be a hindrance to his team. He would be a dictator squandering unnecessary money all while the masses suffer.

Without a great leader a country nor a team cannot become great. Without a sufficient group of followers a country nor a team cannot become great.

If Peyton Manning decides to become the highest paid player in the National Football League he will do so out of needless selfishness. Under the new $120 million cap, a team can’t allocate 1/6th of their budget to a single player and still expect to win.

Football is a team game and without adequate depth it won’t matter who you have under center.

Right now, Peyton Manning has the opportunity to be the embodiment of a team player. He can take a bullet to the leg. Really, it’s just a slap in the face.

Owner Jim Irsay probably regrets saying that he would make Peyton Manning the highest paid player in the NFL during the uncapped year of 2010. To his credit, he hasn’t backed off. Irsay stated “He is going to be the highest paid player and he is going to make more than Brady.”

Nevertheless, Peyton Manning doesn’t have to give into the sweet sirens song. The glory of being the highest paid player shouldn’t be more important than the glory of being a Super Bowl champion again.

$5 million to guys like Peyton Manning is chump change. It goes without saying that he doesn’t need the money but I’ll say it anyways. Combining endorsements and salary, Manning made a total $38,700,000 million last year alone making him the fourth highest earning American athlete of 2011.

Jim Irsay has also said recently that “To me, this isn’t about how much money I have to spend, because the money is going to be spent.”

To me, this money doesn’t have to be spent. Peyton Manning can put a stop to it. Receiving a bigger signing bonus will give more cap room for the Colts to work but imagine the flexibility a smaller contract would allow.

Telling management that he is willing to sign a contract more in line with Brady’s 4 year $72 million extension would be virtually a no-lose situation for Peyton. His reputation as a person would sky-rocket, his team would be better off and it would put himself in a better position to cement his legacy as one of the true greats.

It’s times like these where we see who a person is deep down. Albert Pujols has portrayed himself in the media as the perfect athlete who does more than his part for not only his team but his community as well. I find that hard to believe when $250 million isn’t quite good enough.

A great leader is supposed to put his people in front of himself. However, here we are discussing the heroics of slashing a few million bucks a year off of what could potentially be a contract worth $100 million. Hardly a sacrifice if you ask me.

Peyton Manning doesn’t even have to be thinking about the others. His motivations could be completely selfish and he can still come out smelling like roses. Selfishly, he could choose to put legacy over money. Selfishly, he can decide if he wants to be considered one of the best or THE best.

What kind of selfish does Peyton want to be?

This time around, it isn’t what Peyton Manning is doing on the field that will determine how the world sees him. This could be a career defining moment for him. One decision will show us what we need to know.

What kind of man is Peyton Manning?

Money lasts a lifetime. A legacy is forever.

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The Mirage of Plaxico Burress

Plaxico Burress is the mirage of a bright blue oasis in the scorching desert. Everything about it seems perfect until that horrible moment when you realize it was just an illusion.

Burress is primed for a comeback of epic proportions. Michael Vick has already paved the road for future convicts. Vick didn’t lose a step while he sat in a jail cell. The Plaxico mirage tells us that he hasn’t lost a step either.

For a team that needs a big play threat, Plaxico Burress seems like a great fit. The price tag won’t be a problem and he will almost certainly be determined to prove to the world that he still has it. Plaxico Burress’ situation is set up as the perfect sequel to Michael Vick’s “Cinderella: The Incarcerated Athlete.”

As we know all too well though, looks can be deceiving. The fact that both Vick and Burress served a similar jail term has overshadowed their considerably different circumstances.

The age factor is too much to ignore. Plaxico Burress is an old man. He will be 34 before the NFL’s 2011 season begins. Burress may be primed for a comeback but he is far from the prime of his career.

Michael Vick was 29 when he started his comeback. Some of his best years were taken away from him.

The last of Plaxico Burress’ best years were spent in prison. Burress’ chances to buck the trend of receivers declining severely in their mid-30’s is small at best. Randy Moss is the NFL’s most recent example of an aging star receiver’s freefall. Not coincidentally, the enigmatic Hall of Famer will be entering the season at the tender age of 34.

Before Burress’ season was cut short in 2008, he was on pace for his lowest receiving total in a full season since the 2003-04 season. His average yards per catch were the lowest since his rookie season. His long reception of 33 yards and his 1.6 YAC were the lowest of his career.

That was 3 years ago.

The fans and media are always game for a good Cinderella story. Plaxico Burress may never be the belle of the ball but his story is still compelling. Like Vick, people will want to see him succeed.

Take it to the bank. There’s going to be more stretching going on than a leotard in a Richard Simmons video. Stretching to find reasons for why Burress will thrive in his comeback.

The possible explanations will go on and on. Plaxico’s body didn’t face the weekly pounding of an NFL season. The man wants to prove himself. His time in prison helped him re-focus.

It won’t matter what type of man Burress has turned into.

This story isn’t about taking a chance on a player carrying baggage so heavy that he has to pay for an extra ticket on his flight. That isn’t the problem. Baggage shouldn’t even be an issue if the potential reward is high enough as displayed last season by guys like Santonio Holmes, Brandon Marshall, Antonio Cromartie and, of course, Michael Vick.

Related: Naughty or Nice?

The risk of bringing in Plaxico Burress doesn’t present the potential of reaping in some serious reward.

History, statistics and the law are all saying that it would be silly to bring in Plaxico Burress. There are better routes to explore in the quest to find a big play wide receiver.

The team that signs Plaxico Burress will feel obligated to play him. He will be given every opportunity because of his past. Randy Moss was given every chance imaginable last year in Tennessee.

Plaxico Burress won’t be the piece to put a team over the top. He will be the anchor that weighs them down. Prison isn’t going do to Plaxico Burress what it did to Michael Vick. It doesn’t work that way.

The mirage of Plaxico Burress will be too enticing for some teams to turn their back on. Luckily, only one team will have to suffer the consequences of the gamble.

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Are the NFL’s New Replay Rules Necessary?

The NFL is introducing new replay rules for the 2011-12 season

Football is not meant to be perfect. No sport is. Sports are meant for entertainment. They are meant for our enjoyment.

The game of football was just fine before challenges were brought in. Occasional mistakes were made by referees but we’re all human.

Challenges were introduced, which made the game even better. It gave teams the opportunities to dispute calls that they disagreed with. If they were wrong they lost their challenge and a timeout. They were penalized so the game wasn’t slowed down with an excessive amount of stoppages for mildly controversial plays.

Apparently, the NFL wants the game to be perfect. New replay rules are being put in place for the new season to ensure that no mistakes are made. Apparently, the NFL doesn’t want the game to be fan-friendly. Apparently, the game isn’t about the fans.

A replay official will now automatically review any score. If there is any question whatsoever to the ruling on the field, the play will be reviewed by the referee in the same manner that a challenge is.

I can’t tell you how highly unnecessary this decision from the NFL is. The challenge system was fine that way it was. The coach could used his challenges how he pleased and if he ran out of them, tough luck. There was a reward for being able to use challenges properly.

The NFL is taking strategy away from the game while also adding on needless time to an already lengthy game.

The fans don’t want that. “Getting the call right” shouldn’t be at all costs necessary. The fluidity of the game can only be compromised to a certain extent.

Perfection isn’t what fans need from the game of football. Every aspect of the game doesn’t need to be controlled by the higher office.

The intent of the new replay rule is so coaches can increase their chances of not running out of challenges or timeouts.

The whole beauty of the previous challenge system is now gone. It made challenging calls challenging. It added a certain special something to the game. The system wasn’t made and shouldn’t be for the Homer Simpsons of the world.

It seems like the NFL wants to get rid of controversy entirely. Scoring plays are no doubt the most important but an attempt at eliminating controversy from the game all together is a hopeless endeavour. It’s like asking Homer Simpson to think logically.

In the end I’m probably griping about 5 to 10 minutes a game of extra garbage time but it’s the principle of the matter. This sounds like the slippery slope that Major League Baseball has been worried about.

The speed of the game isn’t a problem for the NFL like it is for the MLB. However, that doesn’t suggest that the fans shouldn’t be considered in the decision-making process. It looks as though the fans were an afterthought in this case.

The NFL has already gotten to the point where they are needlessly reviewing plays. It’s not far-fetched to believe that it could go further than this. The new rules could be taking the game one step closer to a video replay dictatorship of Hitler proportions.

That might be extreme thinking but I don’t want my point to get lost. The NFL shouldn’t be using constant advancements in technology to mess with the game too much. If keeping the game of football the way it is means a rare controversy caused by a human mistake then so be it.

Perfection was never in the description.

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What a Shame

What goes around comes around. Stupidity is what got Roger Clemens into this mess and, for now; stupidity has gotten him out of the mess.

Roger Clemens didn’t have to testify in front of Congress. His Roger Goodell sized ego and James Harrison like stupidity told him to lie in front of congress. Sorry, allegedly lie.

Steroids in baseball aren’t a big issue in the grand scheme of the world. Aids, murders, poverty should probably be put ahead of cheating in a game. However, lying under oath isn’t something to be taken lightly.

It’s a shame that two guys could get off scot-free for perjuring.

Regular readers of mine know that I hate steroids with a passion. The fact that everyone was doing it is no excuse. What if everyone was jumping off a cliff? That’s what Mom teaches you when you’re 10. I hated to see Barry Bonds get off without even a slap on the wrist.

This is not about steroids though.

Related: Musings on the 2011 Hall of Fame Class

Baseball is a game. However, when the government gets involved the game becomes life. The consequences of your actions are no longer within the game. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens supposedly understood what was happening and proceeded accordingly.

Bonds’ trial has been called a waste of the taxpayer’s money by many. The Roger Clemens trial is facing the same criticism on top of the potential for a second trial costing more money. Nevertheless, just because the issue involved is about a game doesn’t mean that the law shouldn’t be enforced. There are bigger issues in the world but perjuring under these circumstances is hardly different from lying under oath at a murder trial.

It’s a sham that Roger Clemens could get off scot-free because of an inexcusable mishap. Maybe the prosecution misremembered that the evidence they presented was deemed inadmissible?

Clemens’ situation is far different from Bonds’. He wasn’t subject to an investigation. Clemens wanted to throw the middle finger to the world by testifying. He wanted prove to the haters that he wasn’t on steroids. He thought he could make a mockery out of the system to repair his image. He flat out lied to a panel of Congressmen and got caught in a web of misremembers.

He ought to be punished for it.

At this point it isn’t personal. Roger Clemens disgusts me but that isn’t why he should be punished or why the prosecution should continue pushing for a re-trial. The law is the law. Perjury is a felony.

He didn’t simply lie to the media about steroids like so many have. Lying publicly about the issue is child’s play. Roger Clemens’ mind was on the school grounds playing cops and robbers. He didn’t realize what he had gotten himself into.

Marion Jones was sent to prison after insurmountable evidence finally forced her admission of guilt. She lied to a federal grand jury and spent 6 months in prison for it.

That didn’t happen to Barry Bonds.

It will be a shame if Roger Clemens also finds his way off the hook.

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Creating Meaning Out of Chaos

John Buck was calling the pitches at the 2010 all-star game when Brian McCann hit the game deciding 3-run double in the 7th inning. What does John Buck have to do with anything? John Buck represents what is wrong with Major League Baseball’s mid-summer classic.

It probably wasn’t John Buck’s fault that Brian McCann whacked a double giving the National League home field advantage in the 2010 World Series. It also probably didn’t matter to John Buck who was playing for the perennially mediocre Toronto Blue Jays last season. He was calling pitches in a game that he probably didn’t expect to be in before the season had started.

Bud Selig’s attempt to inject more life into the slowly dying lure of all-star games should be applauded but this isn’t right.

Related: Get Rid of ‘Em

Baseball’s all-star game is flooded with an excess of players and a need to get each one into the game. Those guys deserve it. They deserve the opportunity to play.

It’s the World Series teams who don’t deserve it. They don’t deserve what the all-star game now stands for. The most important game is decided in the most chaotic way possible by a majority of players who couldn’t care less. At least one player has to be chosen from each team and they could possibly be the most important player in the game. Most important, not most valuable.

The all-star game is a circus but it’s still a good circus. All the best players in the world are put on one field to showcase their talent. It doesn’t have to be anything more than that.

I don’t mind seeing managers struggle to find playing time for position players while having to protect the arms of pitchers.

I can’t bear watching mangers try to organize a circus all while facing the pressure of winning a potentially very meaningful game.

The all-star game is played run more like a high school PE class yet the implications are more like a World Series title. Oh wait, it is a World Series title.

The math doesn’t add up.

Baseball is the one sport that doesn’t have to worry about their players giving a full effort. Baseball is the one sport where players will give their full effort because it’s almost impossible not to. Just ask Pete Rose.

All-star games are made to be fun but the never-ending drive for higher ratings has attempted to create real meaning where there isn’t meant to be any. Throwing together 50 guys for one game and telling them that the outcome of a world championship could depend on them is incredibly illogical.

In the end, you have 3rd and 4th string “all-stars” playing in crunch time. John Buck could be behind the plate not getting on his knees to block a ball with a guy on third base with 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th inning. No, that didn’t actually didn’t happen but it seems like something Mr. Buckaroo could pull off.

All-star games are going the way of MySpace but there are other ways to fix it. Since 2003, when the home-field advantage rule was implemented, ratings have not increased in the slightest. The ratings have fluctuated from a 9.5 in 2003 to an all-time low of 7.5 in 2010. No more, no less.

To put that into perspective, ratings throughout the 90’s never reached below an 11.8 and were as high as 17.4.

Obviously, this ploy hasn’t done anything to improve the all-star game’s ratings. The controversy and buzz generated from the rule still isn’t bringing fans to watch the game.

This failed attempt to boost ratings has to be scrapped. They aren’t letting the people who should be deciding their fate do the deciding for themselves. The all-star game may only decide one game but it’s one game that the team’s playing in have virtually no control over. Home-field advantage should be determined by how the respective teams have played throughout the year.

Contract rosters, change the way players are chosen, pay the players, drop the fan vote. It is anyone’s guess on what the best way to fix the all-star game is. I have no idea.

All I know is that home-field advantage should not be on the line at the annual mid-summer classic.

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