It’s Peyton’s Choice

Peyton Manning is a man. He can make his own decisions and no one else should be telling him otherwise. As much everyone thinks they know what is best for Peyton Manning, they don’t.

Manning is coming off reportedly 4 separate neck surgeries in the past 2 years according to Don Banks of SI.com. According to his birth certificate, Peyton will be 36 by the time the 2012 NFL season rolls around. He has played 13 seasons in the NFL according to his stats page on NFL.com.

A lot of people talk about legacy. Brett Favre apparently had his tarnished.

Apparently, Peyton Manning could end up doing the same thing.

Nonsense.

Peyton Manning can do what he wants.

The tarnishing of the infamous legacy is one of the most absurd concepts in professional sports. People illogically believe that it is in duty to protect an athlete’s so-called legacy. There is this idea that one should stop playing before the inevitable decline of father time or injuries take their toll on that person, making them unable to perform close to the level that fans are used to. Rumour has it that continuing to play past this point of substantial decline or even just the possibility of playing past that point is grounds for tarnishing of the legacy.

For some reason, it is engrained in sports culture that what you do late in your career can take away from the things that happened in the prime of your career. The thing is, this George Costanza idea of going out on a high note really doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Last time I checked, you can’t erase what’s written in the history books. That stuff is down in permanent marker, you know, the TO kind of sharpie. But more importantly, the decision of whether or not to keep playing really shouldn’t come down to legacy at all.

Brett Favre still wanted to play. Peyton Manning wants to as well.

Who are we to try and tell these guys what to do? This isn’t our life. We aren’t their mothers.

They should be able to play as long as they want. If there is someone out there that is willing to pay them money to play the game that they love, then by all means they can choose to carry on with their careers. If playing is what the heart desires, the barrier stopping that from happening should be a Donovan McNabb situation. McNabb isn’t close to the level of Manning or Favre, but there came a time this past year when no was willing to pay McNabb to play football. Hey buddy, now it’s time to retire.

As weird as it was for fans to see Johnny Unitas in a Chargers uniform or Warren Moon in a Chiefs uniform, the far from fairy-tale endings to their careers have done next to nothing to skew the way they have been remembered.

Of course, not that it matters anyways.

Michael Jordan said that he wanted to go out on his own terms. He did that when he tried his hand at professional baseball. He did that when he played 2 seasons for the Washington Wizards. Michael Jordan did what he wanted to and has probably left the game happier because of it.

Regret is one of the worst feelings in life. I’m young. At 20 years old, I almost certainly don’t understand what real regret is. Nevertheless, it can’t be easy for a professional athlete to live the next 50 years of his life and know that he had more to give to the game. To walk away from the only identity and livelihood you have ever known is undoubtedly a scary thing. It’s scarier to think about when you know that there’s more left in the tank.

Brett Favre became one of the most repulsive athletes for his multiple pseudo-retirements. However, when you reflect back to his magical season at the age of 40 in Minnesota, you can’t help but think it was all worth it. Again, what I think doesn’t really matter. It’s what Brett thinks. I bet he would be the first to tell you that having one of the most improbable, unpredictable and captivating seasons in sports history made it all worth it.

If he had listened to what everyone was saying, we would never have seen what Brett Favre had in store for us that season.

Peyton Manning is barely a year removed from being on top of the NFL mountain. If he wishes to return to the NFL, most likely not in a Colts uniform, then he should do so. If not, he can walk away from the game as one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history.

He has to do it on his terms though.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com. Also, follow me on twitter @paintstheblack and I will happily return the favour.

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People Are Crazy

The world is coming to an end in 2012. The Mayans were right and I have the evidence to prove it.

Matt Barkley has chosen to return to USC to play quarterback for one more season. He has decided that the NFL and the millions of dollars that go along with it can wait. This is the 3rd year in a row that a top quarterback prospect has put the NFL on hold for the opportunity to immortalize themselves in their respective school’s history. First it was Jake Locker and then it was can’t miss prospect Andrew Luck. Oh, and how can we forget about Matt Leinart all the way back in 2004.

This year’s April fool happens to be Matt Barkley.

What is this world coming to? Where’s the greed? Actually, never mind that, where’s the common sense? The end of the world must be upon us. There is no other way to explain the topsy-turvy nature of these potentially life-altering choices. Men in their early 20’s are willingly turning down the chance to join the exclusive 1%. Delayed gratification at its finest. Matt Barkley’s family may be closer to the 1% than most of us but the point is still valid.

In all seriousness though, I feel sorry for these guys. The people they are surrounded by must be feeding them some grade A bologna.

The coaches who tell them it is in their best interests to get another year’s experience under their belt only have their own selfish interests in mind. The family members and friends who tell them that going back for a national championship to, in Barkley’s own words, “finish what [they] started, don’t understand the possible implications that returning for another year of school could have. The people who tell them to look into their hearts to find the answer don’t realize the follies that accompany decisions made emotionally.

Matt Barkley thinks he has unfinished business at USC. He doesn’t want to leave his national championship calibre team hanging out to dry. It’s good that Matt Barkley experienced those feelings because that’s what a leader is supposed to feel. Those are the qualities that bode well for his NFL career.

Of course, every sentence containing Matt Barkley and the NFL will, once again, be preceded by the word ‘if.’ By choosing to go back to USC there is no guarantee that he will even become an NFL quarterback. I already went through all the ‘if’s’ for Andrew Luck in early January prior to his similarly foolish decision to postpone his NFL career: The risk of a career-ending injury, losing lifetime financial security, exposing previously undiscovered flaws and, most importantly, being unable to fulfill the childhood dream of playing quarterback in the NFL.

The chances of any of those things happening are indeed quite low but the risk is still there. It hurts me to see young men time after time follow in the footsteps of their peers’ illogical decisions. It will hurt Matt Barkley a whole lot more if something tragic should happen to him in the next year.

Heck, after the Indianapolis Colts’ dramatic victory last night against the Texans, it is possible that Andrew Luck could end up falling from his seemingly locked up first overall slot in the 2012 draft. The Rams and Vikings are stuck at 2 wins but both teams believe they have their franchise quarterback already on their roster. It is unlikely that either would take Luck. The dream of being a 1st overall pick, which no doubt played a part in Barkley’s decision, could stay a dream for Andrew Luck.

The chances of a 0-13 team winning their final 3 games to finish out the season can’t be very high but it is becoming all too real for Andrew Luck who appeared destined for Indianapolis less than 2 weeks ago. If a 0-13 team can win 3 consecutive games, there’s no reason that something just as improbable could happen in the next calendar year that negatively affects Barkley’s NFL career.

Now, Matt Barkley’s puzzling choice may not signal the end of the world but it’s very possible that the only thing to stop these quarterbacks from continually choosing to play an unnecessary season of College football is an apocalypse.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com. Also, follow me on twitter @paintstheblack and I will happily return the favour.

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Don’t Suck For Me…Or Else

Andrew Luck is worried.

Well, at least he should be.

“Suck for Luck” is sweeping the nation. According to Luck, this doesn’t concern him too much. He is just going to go out each week, play his game and continue striving for a national championship.

In theory, the Heisman candidate shouldn’t be wasting his time and energy on which city could be his new zip code for the next 15 years. In theory, he is going to be drafted onto an awful team. Too bad for Andrew Luck the Indianapolis Colts are screwing with the nature of the NFL draft.

Luck is saying all the right things but we know all too well that the Colts would be a devastating landing spot for the Stanford product. To Luck, going to Indianapolis would make him feel like he was kicked in the groin by Minnesota Vikings defensive end Brian Robinson. He can ask T.J. Lang how that feels.

With 6 teams – the Dolphins, Jaguars, Vikings, Rams, Cardinals and Colts – still firmly entrenched in the “Suck for Luck” sweepstakes, you would have to put Colts as one of the frontrunners after 7 weeks.

The Dolphins and Colts are the two favourite heavyweights in the ‘suckiest be luckiest’ division. But after the thorough beat down the Colts took at the hand of the New Orleans Saints, 62-7 on Sunday night, the Colts might have Vegas giving them the best imaginary odds to take it all.

I don’t think I can remember an instance in my lifetime where Peyton Manning and quarterback controversy was used in the same sentence.

Andrew Luck got into Stanford. He’s smart enough to know that he doesn’t want to be part of one of those. He can ask Aaron Rodgers how that feels.

However, it would be ironic if the first player touted a once-in-a-decade talent since Peyton Manning ended up fighting it out with him for the starting job.

Nevertheless, an ironic situation isn’t topping Andrew Luck’s NFL aspirations bucket list. For his own sake, Luck must make sure he doesn’t ever have to face that ironic situation. He has the power to prevent it but his personality might stop him from doing so.

Barring any unforeseen circumstances, there is no doubt that Andrew Luck will be ready to start week 1 of the 2012 season. Heck, he would have been ready to start week 1 of the 2011 season. I still believe he should have come out last year. Maybe he didn’t want to go to Carolina but it has got to hurt a little bit to see Cam Newton have such a successful first half of the season.

The thing is, Cam Newton is exactly the reason that Andrew Luck can’t let himself end up in Indianapolis. Consider this, 4 quarterbacks drafted in 2011 and 8 quarterbacks drafted since 2010 are currently starting in the NFL. It would be crazy if Luck wasn’t starting week 1 of 2012.

No one knows how many years Peyton Manning has left, especially following 3 neck surgeries. Although, if we have learned anything about Peyton we know that he wants Brett Favre longevity, which doesn’t bode well for Andrew Luck.

Luck foolishly proved that he is a selfless individual by returning to Stanford for another unnecessary year. He doesn’t need to prove it again.

Related: Make the Right Decision Andrew Luck

At some point, but not yet, he is going to have to speak up and tell the world that he will not sign with the Indianapolis Colts if Peyton Manning is there. A selfish ultimatum from a selfless individual. Yeah, he might be criticized by some for a move like that but it would be worth it in the long run.

The other Manning wouldn’t sign with the Chargers. His reputation wasn’t tarnished by his refusal to sign. He won a Super Bowl.

Even if the Colts ended up taking Luck, fully intending to trade him, is there really a guarantee that some team is willing to pay the inevitably mammoth price to get him? The 2012 draft is projected to be one saturated with quarterback talent. Well known prospects Matt Barkley out of USC and Oklahoma’s Landry Jones round out the top 3 quarterbacks.

Is the price for Luck really worth it when other potential stars are available in Jones and Barkley?

What about the possibility of stepping into Peyton Manning’s shoes following a trade of the Colts legend?

If Peyton Manning were traded to allow Andrew Luck to start in his rookie year, the expectations and animosity surrounding Luck among Colts fans would be tremendous. While I’m sure Luck would be able to handle the increased stress, the conditions are certainly not ideal for a quarterback with so much already on his shoulders.

Playing in a Miami or Jacksonville type city would allow for a certain degree of patience that wouldn’t be accepted in Indianapolis.

It could be argued that learning behind one of the great minds in NFL history would be beneficial to Andrew Luck. Much like playing behind Brett Favre seems to have been most helpful to Aaron Rodgers.

Despite the possible advantage sitting out 2-4 years could have for Andrew Luck, his situation is far from similar to Rodgers. People tend to forget that Aaron Rodgers slipped all the way down to 24th overall in the year he was drafted. For some reason that I can’t quite put my finger on, I don’t see Luck slipping to 24th overall. Rodgers was not touted as a once-in-a-generation talent, he didn’t have the power to demand better circumstances and are we seriously supposed to believe Rodgers wouldn’t be the quarterback he is today if not for those years riding the pine.

If Luck is as great as they say he is, he can, should and will be able to learn on the job.

Andrew Luck doesn’t have to cost himself precious years of a football career that could potentially be one of the best in history.

All he has to do is speak up.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com. Also, follow me on twitter @paintstheblack and I will happily return the favour.

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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.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com. Also, follow me on twitter @paintstheblack and I will happily return the favour.

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