fake uggs for sale uk Why Manning is Luke Skywalker and Brady is Darth Vader as NFL’s Star Wars franchise resumes
And so, we come to maybe the final chapter of Manning vs. Brady, a long running sports soap opera in which the plot has twisted and turned like a Pittsburgh alley. Through it all, the perceptions of the two stars have run the spectrum of a Univision telenovela.
It may be hard to remember now. But there was a time in the very early ’00s when Peyton Manning was seen as sort of a privileged little Boy Scout, raised in the New Orleans suburbs, shepherded along through his quarterback training by only the best teachers and a doting NFL seasoned dad, a little persnickety and whiny and left brain and hard to like.
And there was also a time right about then when Tom Brady was America’s Sweetheart. The tenacious sixth round pick who had none of the advantages of heritage, whose own college coach preferred another quarterback, whose “measurables” left combine gurus unimpressed.
And yet, he overcame it all to win the Super Bowl with a huge upset of the heavily favored St. Louis Rams. There, he stood on the podium, hands on head in the dumbfounded “cobra pose,” grinning and shaking his head as the red white and blue confetti rained down in the Superdome as if even he couldn’t believe what had just happened to him. I asked: On a scale of 1 to 10 on the likability meter, where do you rank Peyton Manning? What about Tom Brady?
A few had it a tie. Many had Manning higher. None had Brady so. The average score was about 8 for Manning and 4 for Brady.
I seriously doubt it would have been this way back in 2001. Anyway, I have my own ideas how this has happened:
Manning has managed his image through endorsements; Brady hasn’t.
Think for a moment about where you see Tom Brady outside of the football field and then where you see Peyton Manning.
Brady is barely visible on television if he’s not in helmet and pads. You might see him on a TMZ segment or something like it, slumming in his UGG boots with his flawless Brazilian supermodel wife Gisele Bundchen. His only endorsement deals are with UnderArmour and Movado luxury timepieces (a sponsor he shares with Derek Jeter). Can you remember seeing him in either?
Meanwhile, if you watch any television at all, either on laptop or big screen, is there a day you can get through without seeing Manning? He leads NFL players, according to Forbes,
with $12 million annually in endorsement deals. But here’s the thing: It’s all populist stuff the middle class rubs up against every day franchise pizza, satellite TV, credit cards, energy drink, insurance, phones. No 4 figure wrist jewelry for Peyton.
Here’s the other thing: Ever notice how Manning is cast in the slightly goofy, crooked smile everyman role in every ad he does? He and his agents craft that stuff to a tee. And let’s be honest, he’s really good at it.
A Youtube montage of Peyton Manning’s funniest commercials.
The Belichick/Patriots scandal factor. Brady’s been sucked into its vortex.
For a long time, Brady was treated as an ancillary component of the Patriots Death Star. He was treated by even the most fervent New England haters as Yankees haters treated Jeter: They could despise the team but still compartmentalize Brady as a player for which they held a grudging respect and even some fondness.
After all, Brady was never implicated in the Spygate saga; that was all on Bill Belichick.
But I think that time has passed in the wake of Deflategate. Instead of admitting to his apparent role in a very minor transgression, Brady denied and denied and then lawyered up and beat the rap. He might have been successful in having his 4 game sentence expunged and beating bumbling Roger Goodell in the courts. But I think he lost in the court of public opinion.
Does he care? There’s little evidence he does now.
Manning has somehow retained an underdog persona.
America loves an underdog and Peyton can still be cast as one even though he’s won more games as an NFL quarterback than anyone in the history of the league (186). His career still has been a sort of topsy turvy one with heartbreaking losses, many of them to Brady’s Patriots, five different head coaches, a tough first few years when his team was awful, a falling out with the franchise with whom everyone thought he’d retire and a serious neck malady from which it was doubted he could recover. He’s been a sympathetic figure throughout.
Meanwhile, since that astounding post 2001 upset, Brady and Belichick have methodically bored through four Super Bowl championships and a fifth season in which they fashioned a perfect 16 0 record before the playoffs. Not once in those 15 years have they had a losing season. Only twice have they missed the playoffs. It’s been a run of relentless continuity unsurpassed in NFL history.
Anybody who wins so much eventually begins to morph into a villain. That’s how Brady has somehow transitioned from Luke Skywalker into Darth Vader as Sunday’s game in Denver (3:05, CBS) approaches.
So, it’s Patriots vs. Broncos. Who’re you rooting for? If you’re not a fan of either team in particular, chances are you’re not rooting for a team at all but a guy. And that guy is probably Manning rather than Brady.