Saturday, January 6, 2007
The Return of Mr. Peepee
Now, for those of you who think I'm just another Manning-hater, let me fill you in on a little secret: I used to defend Peyton all the time. At one point, I picked the Colts to win the Super Bowl 3 years in a row. And when they fell short, I always blamed his lackluster defense or a superior opponent with homefield advantage (aka, New England). I truly believed Peepee was better than Tom Brady. Check that, not just better, but head and shoulders above the Patriots' signal-caller. And then Peyton and company gagged at home against Pittsburgh last year and I swore up and down that I'd never trust Peyton in the playoffs again. I finally saw the light.
The sad thing is (if you're a Colts' fan, that is) that Peyton's title window might have closed already. Indy's veteran squad means a big cap number, thus severely limiting the Colts ability to make big moves via free agency in the future. Remember the Tennessee Titans circa 2001? They were coming off a Super Bowl appearance and followed that up by posting the league's best record. But instead of hoisting the Lombardi trophy, they ran into the Ravens' juggernaut and never got close to the big game again. A few years later, they had to blow the whole thing up and start over because their veteran club descended into salary cap hell.
The ironic thing is that one of the biggest problems facing the Colts in the future is the rise of those same Tennessee Titans. Vince Young has become a full-fledged force much more quickly than anyone expected and the Titans now have plenty of draft choices and money to burn once again. Then when you consider how nicely situated arch-nemesis, New England, seems to be (2 first round draft picks, cap space, Tom Brady and young stud, Laurence Maroney), it quickly becomes apparent that Indianapolis faces a steep uphill climb to remain among the AFC elite. Yes, time moves that quickly in today' NFL.
But look on the bright side, Indy fan. I'm sure the Packers' faithful immensely enjoyed watching their own legend repeatedly lead Green Bay to the second round of the playoffs during the 2nd half of his career. And as for the rest of us, we'll take comfort in knowing we get to see Mr. Peepee again next week... and for many more Januaries to come.