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I’m not what some would call a very spiritual person. I don’t go to church. I don’t believe in ghost, psychics, or the afterlife. I think of all forms of religion as either a type of copping mechanism or a social group that makes it easier to meet a like-minded person to have sex with, kind of like a primitive Craigslist “casual encounters.” But somewhere, deep in my soulless self, I do have a belief in something, and that’s my belief in the balance of the universe.
You see, I believe the universe always has, and always will, take care of itself. For example, a couple million years ago, dinosaurs were being total dicks and eating all the other puny and defenseless animals, so the universe put them in their place with a big ass meteor. Or, due to my race’s poor treatment of African-Americans for a couple of centuries, I now have to live in a world were Tyler Perry and Wayans brothers movies are considered funny and gross millions of dollars. See, the universe pretty much makes sure things are on an even keel.
This past Sunday was a perfect example of this phenomenon.
You see, for the past several years, ever since Peyton Manning won a Super Bowl against a crappy Chicago Bears team that was quarterbacked by a borderline alcoholic, I’ve had to listen to the world preach of the greatness that is Peyton Manning. Analyst and talking heads called him a methodical machine, perhaps the greatest ever. People in Indiana brought products made of high fructose corn syrup and other fattening substances to the altar of Peyton as sacrificial gifts. It used to be that every sentence that began with Peyton Manning usually ended with “media whore” or “choke artist.” Now those sentences ended with terms like “winner” and “greatest quarterback ever.”
Even if the general public ate it up, I didn’t. I knew that was all bull crap, and so did the universe. The difference was that I wanted everyone to know immediately that Peyton was a farce. But the universe, in its infinite wisdom, knew better. While I would have like to see Peyton revealed as the true loser that he is during an opening round playoff game, the universe waited for the right moment to reveal the true Peyton, the universe waited for the Super Bowl, and the largest television viewing audience in the history of the world.
Well played universe. Well played, indeed. I couldn’t have thought of a better scheme myself. Build mediocre QB into a god, inflate everyone’s expectations of him, place him on the largest stage ever and then have him single-handedly lose the game for his team by throwing a pick-6 on what everyone thought would be the game winning drive. Brilliant. F’ing brilliant.
Now, instead of everyone proclaiming Peyton as the greatest ever, everyone is remembering what Peyton really is. He’s a guy who’s 9-9 in the playoffs. He’s a guy with five less playoff wins, five more playoff loses and two less rings than the guy everyone has seemed to forget about when talking about the greatest quarterback of this generation or any other—Tom Brady. No, Peyton is no longer in the same breath as guys like Montana or Brady, and instead though of guys like Favre or Marino—guys who were good, but never won as much as they really should have.
Now I’m sure there’s some people out there who read this and cry, “Look at his stats, look at all the records he set, look at his MVPs!” Well you know where he racked up those stats, records and MVPs? The regular season. And I won’t dispute Peyton’s greatness…in the regular season. But being great in the regular season is like saying you’re really great at foreplay, or your girlfriend has a great personality. Sure, it’s good for something, but doesn’t mean much where it actually counts.
Do you think anyone looks back on the true greats, guys like Bradshaw, Montana, Elway or Brady and say, “Dude, he totally owned it in Week 6!” No, of course not. Because the regular season, while it counts towards making the playoffs in a particular year, doesn’t count towards making legends.
So, Peyton can have the regular season. He can go ahead and rack up another 14-win campaign and another MVP trophy. Because come end of next season, he’ll be what he is today—a playoff failure, a guy that is greeted by only 11 fans at the airport, instead of thousands at a victory parade, a star that everyone outside of his fan base snickers at, a “great athlete” that is hardly great when it matters the most.
I knew these truths about Peyton. Some fans knew them too. But most importantly, the universe knew them. And, as is its nature, the universe made sure it was never defied. It made sure that order was kept. It made sure Peyton Manning was Peyton Manning. Now the whole world knows it too—which is good, because if the universe didn’t uphold its own laws, and allowed Peyton to not be Peyton, well, I don’t think I would have had anything else to believe in.