Peyton Manning: Any Second Thoughts, Tennessee Titans Faithful?


Peyton Manning: Any Second Thoughts, Tennessee Titans Faithful?

Sep 5, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) during the first half against the Baltimore Ravens at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Admit your mistakes.

Is that easier than it sounds? So many quotes are attributed to that concept. Let’s look at a few of my favorite from the website ‘Brainy Quotes:’

"A man must be big enough to admit his mistakes, smart enough to profit from them, and strong enough to correct them. – John C. Maxwell No one should be ashamed to admit they are wrong, which is but saying, in other words, that they are wiser today than they were yesterday. – Alexander Pope Insane people are always sure that they are fine. It is only the sane people who are willing to admit that they are crazy  – Nora Ephron The man with insight enough to admit his limitations comes nearest to perfection. – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe"

Consider a mistake from last night (Sep. 5). Approximately 30 minutes before the 2013 NFL Kickoff Game between the Baltimore Ravens and Denver Broncos, I downed some Kroger-branded allergy medication. Probably not a brilliant idea if I wanted to remain awake for a three-hour football game, rain delay excluded. It’s just that I felt like I had walked through a field with an infinite pollen count.

Kickoff finally happens. The game reaches about the 6:00 mark of the first quarter before I pass out on the couch. I wake up for the start of the second quarter, Ravens up 7-0. The Ravens enter the locker room with a 17-14 halftime lead. Peyton Manning has thrown two touchdowns.

Exhausted, I call it a night, skipping the second half of a game that was becoming an unpleasant force to watch because I couldn’t remain awake.

Manning didn’t much care for my quitter mentality. He threw five second-half touchdown passes en route to a 49-27 Broncos victory. He tied an NFL single-game record with seven touchdown passes. Not bad for a 37-year-old who’s a couple years removed from four neck procedures.

You know what else Manning probably didn’t care for? My insistence that a long-term relationship with Jake Locker—and a potential threesome with Mario Williams—was preferable to a one-night stand with PFM.

That’s like giving up a one-night stand with the hottest male/female in your area. Instead, you accept a long-term relationship with a male/female whose face is completely covered in a veil, minus the eyes. All you know is that this person has a great personality, exudes leadership traits, and has pretty eyes (Locker’s mobility). You’re banking on his or her “potential” to equate into the ideal marriage partner (franchise quarterback).

Did that sound like something Clay Travis would say? Maybe these drugs haven’t worn off yet.

Where did my “keep Locker, no Manning!” philosophy originate from? Wanting what was best not just for the short term but the long term. As a Tennessee Titans and Green Bay Packers enthusiast who has Middle Tennessee, Northern Wisconsin and Upper Peninsula ties, I witnessed the reaction when the franchise sided with the long-term relationship (Aaron Rodgers) over the one-night stand (Brett Favre).

It was harsh. It still is. Despite Rodgers leading the Packers to a Super Bowl XLV victory and giving them another eight-plus years of stability at quarterback, some fans still won’t forgive general manager Ted Thompson for the way he kept Favre from returning following his 37th retirement-and-back ceremony—or however many it was.

There are some similarities here. The 2008 Packers were coming off a winning season. So were the 2011 Titans. Rodgers’ only major in-game experience came during a 2007 NFL Network game against the Dallas Cowboys. Locker had some impressive non-starting performances when he replaced Matt Hasselbeck. Rodgers and Locker were both first-round picks whose teams chose them over Hall of Famers who could’ve been the final ingredient to a legitimate Super Bowl contender.

It worked for the Packers. Will it work for the Titans?

Watching—I mean, hearing—about that historical performance made me think of the Titans’ quarterback situation. They enter Sunday’s game as seven-point underdogs against a rebuilding Pittsburgh Steelers team. For the Titans, most experts predict a .500 season at-best. Everyone who follows them understands that there’s talent; they just don’t trust Locker. If Locker plays bad, then defenses will concentrate on Chris Johnson. Now it’s a distrust of the entire brain trust in the backfield.

Put Manning on this team with Johnson, a potentially dominant offensive line and three wide receivers drafted in the top 34 (plus Nate Washington)? His presence would’ve attracted top-tier free agents (e.g. Wes Welker). Fan base expands. The franchise receives more national exposure. Indianapolis Colts enthusiasts rage every time Manning beats Andrew Luck. Media projects this team from 6-10 (with Locker) to a Super Bowl contender.

Was I incorrect in my assessment of the Manning fiasco? Would it have been better for Manning to start for 2-3 years and let Locker either take over afterward or draft another quarterback when Manning retired?

Perhaps. It’s up to Locker to silence his critics. He has done enough positive things to keep me optimistic. At the same time, Locker isn’t throwing seven touchdowns against a Dick LeBeau-led defense. Or six. Or five. Even four is doubtful. Locker isn’t throwing seven touchdowns against any defense in 2013.

That’s a fact, no potentially to it.