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Colts Owner: We’ll Franchise Tag Manning If We Have to

At a time when members of the mainstream media are abuzz with talk of new labor agreements and star quarterbacks whose contracts are expiring after this season, I’m a little surprised to hear Indianapolis Colts Owner Jim Irsay admit that he would use the franchise tag on Peyton Manning if it came down to it.  It’s uncertain if there will even be such a thing as a franchise tag when a new labor agreement is reached, but apparently Irsay won’t be afraid to use it if there is.  Here’s what the Colts owner told the Associated Press, courtesy of Pro Football Talk:

The bottom line is we’ll get something done and when it happens just depends,” Irsay said, per the Associated Press. “I said he’d be the highest-paid player and he may already be if we go with the [franchise] tag.  I’d love to see him be here and break all those records as a Colt.”

While I’ve already said I think too much is being made of QB contract situations and I don’t think any of the game’s best quarterbacks are changing teams, I don’t think guys like Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, and Drew Brees want to be franchise tagged.  Irsay has openly stated he plans on making Manning the highest-paid player in the NFL, but I’m sure Manning would prefer a deal to get done before use of the franchise tag is necessary.  If it still exists, the tag would give him a one-year contract worth $18.96 million, which isn’t exactly petty cash.  However, it doesn’t provide the long-term security that a Super Bowl champion has earned.

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Too Much Being Made of NFL QB Contract Extensions

Members of the media obviously need something to talk about while the world of professional sports is amidst its most boring season. I understand they have a job to do and it can be frustrating when there are no major headlines for an extended period of time. However, the lack of exciting story lines can lead to some serious overreacting, which is what has happened this NFL off-season with the uncertainty surrounding the contract situations of the league’s elite quarterbacks.

When I woke up Monday morning and read that ESPN’s Adam Schefter was reporting that Tom Brady‘s contract discussions with the New England Patriots were progressing, why was I surprised? Maybe it’s because the word “holdout” has been the most closely connected word to Brady’s name, despite the fact that he never said anything about — or even hinted at — the possibility that he would stay home when training camp began. The three-time Super Bowl champ may be building a home in L.A., enjoy boxing there, and be friendly with Kobe Bryant, but he’s not leaving New England.

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Greatest Quarterbacks of All-Time Don’t Throw Pick Sixes to End the Super Bowl

A ton of talk leading up to the Super Bowl was about Peyton Manning’s place in history. Many people were starting to talk about him being the best QB of all-time. After he shredded the Jets — the top defense in the league — Rex Ryan and others lavished Peyton with endless praise. People were saying that there wasn’t anything you could throw at Manning defensively that he hadn’t already seen. People said that Manning prepares better than any other player and that defenses can’t confuse him. Many people suggested that he was poised to become the best quarterback of all-time. While I recognize the greatness of Peyton Manning — supreme consistency, excellent stats, an uncanny ability to run the two-minute drill and lead his team to comeback wins — he’s only been average (by his standards) in the postseason, and that’s a major concern.

In recent years, Manning’s Colts have lost in the postseason to the Chargers twice. Previously, they couldn’t get past the Patriots when they had to play in Foxborough. There are two undeniable truths to take from those facts: one, Manning’s success in the passing game is related to the weather, and two, the Colts have a tendency to lose to inferior teams in the playoffs. Additionally, a problem that plagued Manning early in his career reemerged in the Super Bowl. Peyton used to throw a lot of pick-sixes (28 interceptions his rookie year, 23 his fourth season) and that had a large role in the eventual resignation of Jim Mora as Indy’s head coach. It also came back at the most inopportune time for Indianapolis.

I’m not saying Peyton Manning isn’t a great quarterback and that I wouldn’t love to have him as my franchise’s quarterback; that’s not the issue. What I’m saying is that the greatest quarterback of all-time doesn’t throw a pick six to end his team’s chances at winning a Super Bowl. What I’m saying is that Peyton’s alleged invincibility does not exist. Apparently defenses can get to Peyton with pressure and apparently they can confuse him with different looks. If that weren’t the case, then how did Tracy Porter know the play was coming and how did he bait Manning into that throw? If Peyton Manning is the most well-prepared player in the league, then how is it that extensive film study led Porter to make the game-clinching play over Manning? And I’m sick of hearing people blame Reggie Wayne for the interception; did he make the throw? Did he decide to run a play the defense knew was coming? I thought Peyton Manning was a coach on the field and Indy’s offensive coordinator? If that’s the case, then he made a bad call. Peyton Manning is an outstanding quarterback but he’s still a notch below Tom Brady in my eyes, and possibly on an equal level with Drew Brees now. The greatest quarterback of all-time doesn’t make that throw.

By the way, even Tony Dungy admitted on Dan Patrick’s show that the throw would hurt Peyton’s legacy: “Those are the situations where you expect the great quarterbacks to make the play and to go down and win it. I was sitting there expecting that they were going to go in and tie it up. One throw a lot of times can impact a legacy.” No doubt about it.

Peyton Manning Takes Subtle Shot at Brett Favre, Brad Childress

The huge debate that arose this week came after the Colts pulled their top starters in the middle of the third quarter against the Jets. The team was up 15-10 at the time and wound up losing 29-15, ending their unbeaten season. Indy is now 14-1 and coach Jim Caldwell and president Bill Polian are getting plenty of heat for their decision to protect their players. Peyton Manning was seen with a disappointed look on his face on the sidelines and admitted as much after the game. He even got in a subtle shot at Brett Favre and Brad Childress when asked about being pulled:

“I was not surprised,” Manning said. “I knew potentially that was part of the plan. There was not a head coach-quarterback argument of any sort. I’m on the same page as coach Caldwell. I was told before the game to be flexible and go out and score as many points as we could. I’m disappointed we didn’t score more.”

It’s hard to understand how that comment was a shot at the Vikings just by reading it; you had to see Manning’s face to see the grin he had on his face to know he was taking a jab at Favre and Childress. If you saw him, you would have recognized that he put emphasis on the head coach-quarterback argument part. Now that the Colts have lost and their perfect season is over, the questioning has come. I weighed in on the debate for The League panel at the Washington Post. Check it out here to read where I came out on the issue.

Peyton Manning Shows Off His Versatility in Latest MasterCard Commercial

One of the biggest gripes against Peyton Manning is that he’s the face of the NFL and overexposed. Honestly, you can watch football all day Sunday and see more of Peyton in commercials than of him on the field. Weird he finds that much time on his hands, but apparently he has enough free time for Bar Mitzvah appearances, too. OK, I’ll admit I liked the ESPN commercial with him and Eli picking on each other, as well as the cut that meat commercial. His latest MasterCard commercial? Not so much. Here’s Peyton playing the role of the happy-go-lucky quarterback:

As you might expect, the commercial is set to make its debut Sunday night for the Colts/Patriots game. And I’ll tell you, between Brady being out and the way Peyton’s playing, this game has no meaning to it. In past year, you bet your ass. Now? I’d much rather have the Packers and Titans on Sunday Night, no question.

Has Eli Surpassed Peyton as the Top QB?

I’ve taken my shots at Eli Manning in the past, back when it was deserved. Funny thing though: a lot changes in less than a year. It was only November that I was criticizing Eli for throwing 4 interceptions (three returned for touchdowns) in a 41-17 loss to the Vikings. He was brutal that game. A month later, he was giving the Patriots a tough test in Week 17, and then boom! Playoffs hit, and Eli was a new man. The guy who threw more than a pick a game his first four seasons became one of the best care-takers of the football of any quarterback in the league. The change happened overnight. The improvement in Eli’s game — from Week 17 last year through this season — makes me wonder whether or not he has surpassed Peyton Manning as the top quarterback in the family, which in essence would make him one of the top quarterbacks — if not the top quarterback — in the game.

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Not All Peaches with Peyton Manning

I’m not exactly sure what it is that makes this video so fascinating. Maybe it’s because Peyton is the epitome of the All-American dork — the comb over hair, the perfectly manicured suit, the Southern drawl — he just comes across as such a harmless being. But if his random appearance at a Sweet 16 party didn’t already tell you there’s more than meets the eye, maybe this video of Peyton going bezerko on his offensive line will:

A few observations here: I think I enjoy this for the same reason I’m fascinated by watching Tiger Woods come out of portapotty. It’s hard to believe these guys are human. Secondly, this pretty much confirms to me that you can catch any player in the league arguing during a game. It only appears as if T.O., Chad Johnson, and Randy Moss are the only guys bitching out there because the cameras choose to follow them. Additionally, check out FanHouse’s post on the video to read the entire transcription of the argument.