I have finally come to grips with the realization that Peyton Manning will not likely be playing for the Colts – if anyone – next year. It has taken me several months to get here. Even after news broke of his 3rd surgery last September, I was calculating the earliest possible return to practice (mid- to late-November), and hanging on every rumor and whisper I heard (the biggest one was Bill Polian declaring that Manning was already 100% better in December than where he had been in September).
But with a significant contract decision looming, an apparently significant philosophical change at the coaching positions, and a highly heralded quarterback available for the Colts’ #1 draft pick, the writing does seem to be on the wall. So I turn my attention to what it is about Manning that other quarterbacks, and presumably Andrew Luck, should learn from and adopt.
Here are my top three traits that I think Luck should pay close attention to as he slides into the position Manning once held.
#1 – Study, Study, Study
It is said that Manning’s work ethic is unparalleled, that he would be very good, but not as great as he is without all the film study and extra reps. As an architecture student at Stanford, Andrew Luck knows studying (and/or he’s naturally very intelligent) – he carried a 3.5 GPA, even after Stanford did away with the rule that allowed students to drop classes after the final. He wasn’t an “Interdisciplinary Studies” major like many college athletes.
But he also has to recognize that being an NFL quarterback will be his full-time job. He will need to cram as much film study time in to his free time as he can. He needs to request years-old film to see how Belichick or LeBeau coached their defenses 2 generations ago to look for a little twist that hasn’t been seen before, but which could show up in the next game. He needs to ask his Dad to help him. And if Peyton isn’t playing next year (God forbid), Luck needs to consider respectfully requesting his assistance (once and only once).
#2 – Show Your Personality, and Make Sure It Has a Sense of Humor
My heart absolutely ached for Peyton watching him in his most recent TV commercial with Jerome Bettis. “A man’s gotta work,” he replies to Bettis, who can’t believe Peyton has suited up as a referee.
Manning is smart and serious enough to continue to mold his brand for his post-football career, but he has a keen enough sense of humor to poke a little fun at his own situation. He’s also got one of the biggest personalities in sports and entertainment. It’s unrealistic and unfair to expect ANYONE to fill his shoes, and it would be anything but wise to try.
But the quarterback who comes in behind Manning will not get away with being a closed-minded or self-righteous jerk. Thankfully, Andrew Luck seems to be a confident, but humble young man. He has already answered the question 1000 times about whether he would be willing to share the team with a Hall of Fame quarterback, and although his most recent answer was less than savory (“If that happens, that’s life.”), we have to recognize that it came after a demoralizing loss in the Fiesta Bowl.
Luck has good grounding, and will understand the environment he’s stepping into. It may actually take some time for him to break out of his shell, but he will do so cautiously and probably only once it is clear he can step from Manning’s long shadow.
#3 – Fall to the Ground, Take the Yards Lost, Live to See the Next Down
The fans of 31 other teams have sometimes called Manning “soft,” citing in particular his propensity to crumple to the ground like a sack of potatoes at the first sniff of a pass rush that is likely to land him on his keister. I love him for it. I laud him for it. I scream for him to do. I wish he had done it on October 22, 2006 (:38 of this video, watch only if you dare). That was the day he took the hit that may prove to end his career.
He was just trying to make a play, move the Colts down the field against the Redskins. But instead of dropping to the ground with Andre Carter and Phillip Daniels converging on him from opposite sides, Manning tried to step up in the pocket, only to be hit high and low resulting in his neck being bent back awkwardly.
It is amazing that he went on to win the Super Bowl that year, but here we are 5½ years later talking about lessons we can learn from Peyton Manning and what we hope Andrew Luck will emulate. Luck is more mobile than Peyton, and may have a slightly better chance to escape these situations, but even in the vaunted Pac-8 Pac-10 Pac-12, he’s never faced an NFL-level defense (though Cal has given him a run for his money). NFL players are bigger, faster and stronger as a whole.
If the only drill the Colts work on with Luck during OTAs and rookie camp is how to recognize when to fall, it will be time well spent. Unfortunately, the man who I assume was responsible for teaching Peyton this skill (Jim Caldwell) will now be imparting his wisdom to Joe Flacco. But two offensive coaches – Ron Turner and Frank Reich – remain on staff and have hopefully learned the importance of this skill for the health and longevity of the franchise.
For what it is worth...
My best friend is a basketball coach at the high school that Ashley Manning's brother (Petyon's brother-in-law) attended. The school had a big game last night, and my friend saw him, and knowing my passion for #18, asked him about his famous brother-in-law.
To no surprise he said it is a done deal that Peyton is going to be cut.
He had also rhrown with Peyton and said he was throwing good. About Manning's future, his thoughts mirrored Cooper's recent remarks.
Nothing new or eartth shattering, Just "throwing" it out there...
@DougEngland How do you define "throwing good"? As in he's able to casually toss around the ol' pigskin with his brother-in-law? Or that he believes he's currently capable of making NFL throws and will be playing somewhere next year? If it's the latter then that's kind of soul-crushing to hear (with regards to my thoughts on how the FO is handling everything).
Man, I wasn't actually there, and I hesitated to even share it.
My friend was just trying to do me a solid, since he knows what a fan I am.
In fact, my friend thought he had a scoop for me with the fact it was a done deal that Peyton was going to be cut. Since all of us already assume that, I was like you and wanted to know how he was throwing.
@vishal_07@pierrezombie@DougEngland You missed the (with regards to how the FO is handling things) note. I'd MUCH rather Peyton win Super Bowls with another team than retire. It would be selfish to want anything else. I just wish that, given his and his doctors' optimistic predictions, the front office wouldn't have been so secretive with him and that it didn't seem like his career with the Colts is dead where it stands.
You are too good pierrezombie.
@Fondue: "If it's the latter then that's kind of soul-crushing to hear". I disagree, as much as I would hate seeing Manning play for another team, I would hate even more the thought of not seeing Manning play ever again. A whole year without seeing the best offensive mind/player combo has kind of left a hole already.
@pierrezombie That "Godfather" quote was perfect. I mean really, WTF?! I can't get over that Wingo interview. I'm stunned!
@pierrezombie@DougEngland ...Peyton was just interviewed by Trey Wingo. Said he had a great day of rehab, has had nothing but positive information from the doctors, and is fully expecting to play in 2012. Just one day after sources like Clayton and King were calling his retirement inevitable. What. The. Hell.
@DougEngland I appreciate you sharing it, especially because you put context around it. To me, it adds a little more weight on that side of the scale. Every bit affects my expectations. The fact that the other side is virtually empty -- not a single rumor of this kind that he's ready to come back, or that they're working on paying the bonus -- suggests a lot.
I know that this has all worked out in such a way that we have a great chance to be solid again in 1-2 years, but part of me just doesn't care. I cheered for the Colts before 18, but it almost feels like I am trading in wine for well-water. How can I watch a team that resembles nothing of the time that I have grown up with these past 12 years (I was 13 when Peyton became a Colt). I remember when "the Brawl" happened, I couldn't cheer for the Pacers for a couple years, they became tainted. The Larkin-less Reds became something of a depressing thing for me. Now, years later, I still cheer for both the Pacers and Reds, but it still isn't the same. Is this what it will be like? Will I be forced to cheer for a team that doesn't even look like what I love about football? Will I wake up 5 years from now and still be a fan, but one that doesn't mind missing the game and just checking the score later?
Peyton Manning transformed the NFL. He must be honored on his way out in a way that gives me closure.
@mattshedd Totally agree. If it was *just* Manning, that'd be plenty to absorb, but the fact that it will likely be him and most of the veteran core... it'll feel like someone bait and switched us into rooting for a different team.
Like you, I'll absolutely remain a Colts fan, and once I make the switch to completely new expectations, I can imagine that it will be fun watching a young team starting over again. But I have no clue how long it will take before I care about them as much, if it ever happens again.
@pierrezombie@mattshedd Yeah. This year, despite all my love for Reggie, Saturday, Clark, and all of them, I couldn´t muster the same kind of childlike enthusiasm that watching Peyton Manning has always elicited, you know, a fervent wonder born from the absoluteness of Peyton Manning. The Colts will be my team next year regardless of what happens with 18, and I´ll want them to reach great heights. But...There´s loving, and there´s being in love.
I believe he will be honored appropriately when that time comes. I hear what you're saying about wine for well water - for some there will be no way to "move on" as a lot of people have advised. I don't think there's anything wrong with honoring the past while looking forward to the future. I hope that future includes Manning playing on the football field again, if even for another team. I'll continue to support the Colts, but I won't lie - it's going to take a lot of wins to win me over!
If Luck's quote was pretty soon after that loss, then yeah, I agree totally with giving him a pass on that. It's important to recognize just how big of an impact transient emotions can have on behavior, and young men should be given time to learn how to handle that in front of the press.
Love the lessons. Great point about the personality. Yeah, we will expect to see a good personality and hear evidence of the next Colts QB being a workaholic (though if he becomes a family man, that obviously should influence expectations a bit--as 18 says, "faith, family, and work, in that order".
Can anyone else imagine Manning and Luck doing commercials that poke fun at this sometime in the not-so-distant future? I can see Manning harassing Luck for performing way below his standards at some silly task and then asking him about film on the subject from a specific date 3 years ago.
@blessedwhiteeyes Love the commercial idea -- let's get storyboarding!
And how old is Luck, 21? I'd say he has handled himself very well to be an early 20-something with the world at your fingertips.
And no friggin' penalty was called on that play.
Nor did Peyton whine for one. (Of course, he was too busy calling a timeout, so he could regroup without coming out for a play. Afterwards, he just went back to work systematically carving up the 'skins.)
Image if that hit happened today on Tom Brady. Misters Carter and Daniels would be out of the league so fast they wouldn't even be allowed on the team plane back to Washington.
"two offensive coaches...remain on staff"
Don't forget, Arians was Peyton's first QBs coach in the NFL.
Why do people keep forgetting this?
@Pied I was pointing out specifically the people who were with the Colts in 2006 and beyond, who lived through that terrible hit and trained Peyton to go to the ground. I may be wrong, but I don't remember him doing the surrender nearly as much before that hit as after.
I think I'm finally there with you. It's been a schizo-few months for me, alternately being devastated, and undeniably excited about what the future my hold for my favorite sports team. Three great pieces of advice, although I think we'll see more Rogers-esque scrambling than Peyton ever dreamed of. Personality will be interesting. We have no idea what we're going to get with Luck. FWIW, I think Peyton's on-camera charisma is pretty uncommon in pro athletes.
Nice work -- this is the kind of content that I think will help a lot of us make the mental transition before it happens.
I would add a #4: shave the Amish facial hair. Please.
Thanks. And I am among the minority who love the neck beard on him. That said, he does look nice cleaned up, too
@LovinBlue For a Cal girl, to cut a Stanford QB slack on that neck beard... wow! Are you kissing up to Jim Irsay for some reason? Seriously, I thought Luck must have made a bet with his O'line. Something along the lines of "I'm going to grow the mangy ol' neck beard and still pick up more girls than you guys."
@matt_has I like the beard. He and I are beard buddies!
@matt_has boo, neck beard!