AP sort of let the cat out of the bag early this morning (again, nice find gogiguere) and for many of us the Indy Star made it official later in the day. Now, everyone is talking about PPeyton Manning's fourth MVP award, which he won with a stunning 39.5 first place votes. The next closest first place vote-getter was Drew Brees with 7.5. As we have said for almost a month now, this MVP race was over when the Colts went down to Jacksonville and (for all intents and purposes) knocked the Jaguars out of the playoffs behind a magnificent performance from Manning.
The only stumbling block for Manning was the Jets game, where he was pulled in the third quarter by his coach, and thus giving up on a then-undefeated season. Still, that act could hardly be blamed on Manning, and thankfully the voters were not stupid enough to do so.
The NFL MVP award is no stranger to Colts quarterbacks. John Unitas won the award twice (1964, 1967), Earl Morrall won it once (1968), and Bert Jones also took one home (1976). Unitas also won one other similar "MVP" like award, but this was before the AFL-NFL merger. Former Brown running back Jim Brown and current Vikings quarterback Brett Favre are the only other players to win three MVPs (along with Unitas). Unitas is widely considered by many to be the best QB of all time, while Jim Brown is viewed by many as the best RB of all time.
Manning now has four MVPs. Where does he rank?
Slowly, but surely over the years, the shouts of "Peyton is a choker" have disappeared. You don't even hear Patriots fans chirp that nonsense anymore. Oh sure, you'll always have a certain numbers of schmucks spewing venom at Manning and calling him a loser, like the douchebag at Deadpsin known as Dashiell Bennett. These kinds of people are the fringe now; the silly, pathetic losers who sit alone in bars and mumble to themselves about how Terry Bradshaw is better than Peyton Manning because he has more rings.
The truth is the "Peyton is a choker" talk was always the talk of the perpetually blind and dumb. Four MVP awards have simply shown the haters up for what we all knew them to be. Please, allow us longtime Peyton fans to pat ourselves on the back and raise a glass to the great one. And while we are toasting him, take a moment to enjoy his own words on the subject of MVP greatness:
"I’m not comfortable having my name on that list or drawing comparisons to those guys," Manning said Saturday. "I think all of those people would probably echo the sentiments that I had before about being very humbled, especially in football which I think is the ultimate team game."
"I’ve been the beneficiary of having the same owner, the same team president all four times," he said. "I’ve received great coaching from our head coaches and assistants and a number of different teammates who have all had a huge impact on me."
In an age where great athletes are propped up and torn down with seemingly the greatest of ease, Peyton Manning has managed to somehow always stay up on Mount Olympus. For someone like me, and for the NFL brand overall, it is important that a player like Manning accomplish what he has done in a small sports market like Indianapolis. Guys like Unitas, Montana, and Baugh made their storied careers in places like Baltimore, San Francisco, and Washington DC (respectively). Elway and Marino built their career in Denver and Miami, respectively. In other sports, Jordan was in Chicago, Koufax in LA, and Mantle in New York. See the trend?
Manning is on the same level as all those guys, and he plays in little ole Indianapolis. This is why the NFL works, people. Dear owners, take note of this when you are negotiating collective bargaining.
We are witnessing the career of the greatest player to very where an NFL uniform. As Colts fans, and as Peyton fans, it is important that we never, ever allow cynicism, hatred, or jealousy from others cloud your judgment on the very real, very genuine fact that Peyton is the best, ever.
And while we fans love and genuinely appreciate seeing him gain such an awesome honor for a record fourth time, the work is still not done. It's now about getting more rings for Big P's fingers, and further cementing his legacy, and the legacy of the Colts, as the best... haters be damned.