NFL Lockout Is Making Peyton Manning Uncomfortable

I got into a healthy Twitter discussion with Mike Freeman of CBS Sports yesterday. A healthy discussion. Nothing argumentative. Freeman isn't a known jerk the on Twitter the way Yahoo! Sports' Mike Silver is.

(Side note: Silver is such a colossal jackass on Twitter. Recently, he published a piece of hate mail that was addressed to him in his Twitter feed, including the emailer's name, location, and personal email address for all all 21,000 of his Twitter followers to heckle and spam. I plan to write about this on Monday, but posting on Twitter the private email of someone who writes you a nasty email is a huge no-no. It's grossly unprofessional, which is ironic because Silver LOVES to lecture us dirty bloggers on professionalism all the time.)

Anyway, my Twitter chat with Freeman was about Peyton Manning. Freeman posted this tweet last night, which caught my eye.

Mikefreeman_medium

This Tweet prompted me to make my 'WTF? face.' But, rather than freak out and act like any other stereotypical Colts fan who sees something he doesn't like written by a national media writer, I did the next best thing: I asked Freeman to clarify.

Freeman's answer (which did indeed clarify the Tweet fairly, for me), and the recent observations of another CBS sports writer, Larry Holder, show me that this whole lockout process is really pissing off No. 18. And, in some ways, Peyton's recent statements about not being able to rehab with his preferred physical therapist do display a lack of awareness on his part.

I contacted Freeman, via Twitter, and asked him why he thinks Peyton is 'coming off as a baby.' I assumed it had something to do with his statements written up in a recent Chris Mortensen column for ESPN.com. These statements expressed Peyton's frustration with the lockout, in particular his annoyance that he couldn't work with the Colts team physical therapist, Erin Barill.

Freeman got back to me and confirmed he was indeed commenting on Manning's complaints about not being able to work with the Colts physical therapist to rehab his surgically repaired neck. From Freeman:

Millions of Americans would love to have Manning's luxury of working with a preferred specialist.

True. In today's wretched healthcare system in America, not everyone can choose which therapist they can use when they are recovering from an injury. I'm one of the lucky few in this country. I have great insurance through my employer, and when I hurt my knee two years ago, the injury required some PT sessions. I was given a choice of hundreds of local PTs in the NYC area, and I had something in the neighborhood of 60 eligible visits a year at a co-pay cost of just $20. I ended up using just ten of the visits.

After my PT sessions were done, I semi-joked with the therapist that I'd like to 'give' the other 50 visits to someone who truly needed them, like my friend Barry. Barry is a hardworking guy who, just because of who employs him, has worse insurance than I do. He was injured a year or so ago when a car hit him and crushed his knee. Because of his insurance, he had a much more limited range of PTers he could go to, and he had fewer visits he could afford. His knee is still not fully recovered, and may never be. This is frustrating to someone like me because if I could 'give' Barry, let's say, half the 50 $20 co-pay visits with my PTer, his knee would likely heal better, and his quality of life would improve.

Anyway, back to Freeman, I responded back by agreeing that, yes, Peyton's statement smacks of disconnected elitism. Peyton is one of the richest men in pro football. He can comfortably afford to work with some of the best PTs in the world. Yet, here is is sulking over not being able to work with the team PT. If his name were Chip Vaughn, or if he were a late-round draft pick just out of college with little or no money, it would make sense. But, because Peyton Manning wipes his butt with money that would feed a small state on a daily basis, it comes off as crying.

Still, I did bring to Freeman's attention that Manning's arm is 'worth its weight in gold to Colts and NFL.' If working with the Colts PT is the best, most efficient way for him to get healthy, there's nothing wrong with him wanting to work with that PT, right?

Freeman's response:

No, nothing wrong except complaining about it. Showed a lack of awareness for people in dire health care situations

Again, Freeman is correct here.

Peyton should have chosen his words more carefully. The words he did choose were nothing awful or controversial or anything, but it is a bit silly for Peyton to be upset about not working with the Colts PT. He's filthy rich and almost everyone on this planet would happily switch places with him. His problems are pretty insignificant when compared to regular people (like my friend Barry), and that general truth is where Freeman was coming from

Now, I'm fully aware that some of you out there will irrationally defend Peyton's statements, even if doing so makes absolutely no sense at all. You might even be a jackass and question my Colts fandom. I don't need to validate or justify my love of Peyton's play to anyone. However, it's important for knowledgeable, intelligent fans to separate their love for how a person plays a game from how that player lives their life. Peyton, by all accounts, is a cool guy who isn't known for being a jerk to fans. But, it's foolish to assume that someone like Peyton, who is worth hundreds of millions of dollars, is understanding or 'in tune' with how average American's live.

Peyton was born into privilege. He is a multi-millionaire. He has about as much in common with me as Donald Trump does. Thus, Peyton's complaining about not being able to work with his preferred physical therapist does make him come off as a bit of a big baby.

Personally, I think Peyton's statements are a symptom of his deep frustration over the lockout. He's pissed because this labor fight has seriously screwed up his off-season routine, and Peyton hates anything that messes with his schedule.

From Holder's article, in which Peyton answers a question about whether he's been following the lockout and settlement process:

"I followed it early and it just got so exhausting because every day was the day it was supposed to end, and that was like three months ago," Manning said. "I've gotten to the point now where I've just told Jeff Saturday to call me when I can go back to the facility because otherwise it has been exhausting every day hoping that's the day. ... I have no information or insight as to when it's going to end. I don't think it's going to be this week, but hopefully it will be real, real soon. ...

"I was following it every day for a while. Calling De Smith and calling Saturday and getting updates. It just seemed like it was so disappointing that it was a long way away. So I got off that daily call. It's kind of made my offseason ... be more settled and not be so anxious in thinking if today's the day. That's carried out for a long time. It sounds like even when they do reach an agreement, the paperwork is going to take some time. Being patient has been important."

Later I asked Manning if he felt he should be more involved in labor talks, considering his name is on the antitrust lawsuit. His face soured after hearing the question.

"I know everything that I need to know," Manning said, matter-of-factly. "At this point there's a lot of talk between the lawyers that are making the decisions and I don't have a law degree. I'm involved. I know everything I need to know. I don't have any reservations about that."

I too wish I could stop following the stupid process. The more you examine just how slow, painful, and completely unnecessary it is, all it does is make you hate football, the NFL, and life in general.

We just need this damn lockout to end.

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