Super Bowl XLVIII is on its way and could prove to be the end of an era, at least for guys like me who are over 40 — and you don’t know how much it actually pains me to say that. I’m in no way ready to become a curmudgeon and start spouting out phrases like “back in my day” or “we could go to the movie for a dollar” as I verbally harangue my sons for life changing while I couldn’t.
I happen to think I’m one of those guys who does kind of roll along with change, though a lot of it doesn’t make sense to me. I think I got awfully close to sounding old there, so let’s get back to my point about the game Sunday.
Peyton Manning has done just about everything there is to do in professional football to this point in his career and really doesn’t have anything else to prove, having broken passing records for seasons and a career and a shoe-in for a first ballot Hall of Fame bid.
But somewhere inside he has to be thinking there’s no way his half-as-talented younger brother could get two rings to his own one, but I digress. I have a feeling he will set that to rights this weekend as well. And I will be the first to admit, I am not a fan.
I never have been, dating back to his days as a Vol at Tennessee, thinking he was far overrated, couldn’t win the big game, and had nothing but his daddy’s coat tails to ride in on.
I’ve watched as the seasons have taken their toll. Manning was praised by the Indianapolis Colts while pushing him out the door to what they figured would most likely be an early retirement. Instead he landed in Denver in the right situation with the right people and has slowly converted me into a fan.
Manning’s play has over the last two years has gone to an entirely new level, one unheard of for a quarterback with the wear and tear he has seen in the NFL. This season especially, even though I am a die-hard Chiefs fan, which is not only an AFC rival but a division rival as well, I’ve found myself enamored with the steady and unflinching play week in and week out as Manning all but methodically dismantled defenses coast to coast.
Precision passing, a keen understanding of the offense and its talents and limitations, and a solid ground game lifted the 2013 season to epic proportions with new records for TDs in a single season and passing yards.
The sadness of it all is not the fact Manning has announced his retirement, though I don’t think that’s a press release not too far into the future, it’s the fact I believe this is a last hurrah. Even as talented as Manning is under center, the odds of his getting back to a game of this magnitude at this point in his career are stacked against him. Add to that the even longer odds of repeating his performance from the 2013 season and the chances are even less.
No, Super Bowl XLVIII is about the past and the future, Manning representing the past and Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson as a prototype of the evolution of NFL offenses. Manning is going to use the clock, read the defense and make adjustments and audibles, checking down to his receivers and using all of the weapons at his disposal, just as he’s always done, hoping for one more game he can make the right calls and find an open man.
Football, just like life and the rest of us, is evolving and the days of Peyton Manning are numbered. How many are left? There’s no way to tell, all we can do is sit back, eat enough food to feed a third world nation for a week, and take in the pageantry that is football’s world championship.
In the meantime, I’m going to be silently pulling for an old dog to pull off at least one more trick for the rest of us. I wonder: If the Broncos win, is Manning going to Disney World or, of all places, Omaha?
D. C. Moody is a staff writer for The Easley Progress, The Pickens Sentinel and Powdersville Post and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper’s opinion.