Wednesday, December 30, 2009

8 comments TMQ: Gregg Is All Favred Out And Doesn't Care If We Know It

I wasn't going to write about Gregg Easterbrook this week (as I have said pretty much every week this NFL season) but I spoke with my fellow members in the Kingdom of the Idiots and they made it clear I was obligated to cover TMQ when I found parts of it I disagreed with. So here I am today, doing TMQ again. It appears Gregg Easterbrook has had enough of this Brett Favre fellow (I know you are saying to yourself, "Who is this guy? I haven't ever heard of him"), and today he explains exactly why. Time to do a little nitpicking (and definite non-nitpicking) of TMQ. As always, tell me if I missed anything.

So the Minnesota Vikings have lost three of four, and Monday night managed to make Jay Cutler look like a star quarterback. Brett Favre and Brad Childress are at each other's throats. The Vikes, once 10-1, might go into meltdown.

I want to take this opportunity to say that Gregg has started to incorporate cartoons into his TMQ and I liked the cartoon that accompanied this column of Brad Childress as the court jester to Favre's king. Usually I don't enjoy Gregg's cartoons, but this was the exception.

This should hardly come as a surprise, since Favre's past two teams melted down late in the season.

Actually it does come as a surprise since usually Favre's teams melt down if not specifically because of him, but because his performance does usually decline at the end of past seasons. That hasn't been the case over the last two games. Essentially the defense (or lack thereof) has been the cause for the Vikings losses. When the offense scores 30 points against the Bears, that should be good enough to win the game.

I have also heard rumblings the Vikings defense is struggling because of the loss of EJ Henderson, which may be true. It doesn't matter, every team has injuries they have to deal with and that's why you have backups. Chicago was missing nearly their entire starting secondary last night (as well as Brian Urlacher) and Carolina had two of their starting linebackers injured who weren't playing in the game against the Vikings the week before. If your team can't withstand one injury to a defensive player, that's not very good personnel management.

Now things have started well at Minnesota and are declining late. This is not a surprise, this is Brett Favre's recent pattern. Don't marry Zsa Zsa Gabor and think she really cares about you. Don't hire Favre and think he cares about anything but Favre.

Those who read this blog know I can't help but agree with this statement. Living in the world of Favre does have its drawbacks. What's going to be interesting is when the Vikings and Favre play well in a playoff game, the media is going to go stir crazy for Favre talking about how he doesn't stink at the end of the year like everyone says he does. Then he will be a hero because he was able to keep consistency in his play for an entire NFL season and not fade towards the end of the year (which is what he gets paid for by the way). As if one game is going to be able to override several straight years of declining performance in December/January.

Childress wants to be the one in charge, calling the plays. Favre wants to be the one in charge, calling the plays. Favre refers to Childress as "Brad" in public, not because they are close pals but in order to make him sound like some minor factotum, perhaps a courtier -- and don't think Favre does not realize that he's doing this.

Other than agreeing that nobody in the world likes Joakim Noah, we can all probably agree that Brett Favre calls Brad Childress, "Brad," because he thinks he is on the same level as Childress or lacks some sort of respect for him. No matter how much I disagree with Gregg Easterbrook on other issues, I can agree with him that Brett Favre probably tries to undermine Brad Childress publicly and privately.

Favre is trying to broadcast the message, "I am the reason the Vikings are winning. Not the other players, not this guy on the sideline with the headset. I am the reason. The guy with the headset is just standing around. Admire me." Childress wants to broadcast the message, "The Vikings are winning because of me, not Favre. It's my plan you see unfolding." Like two ponderous federal agencies fighting for jurisdiction, Favre and Childress are fighting for the credit. Except the fight is turning credit into blame.

Both parties should perhaps shut the hell up when trying to put blame on each other and blame the defense for giving up 25+ points for two straight weeks on the road. Favre didn't play poorly last night and other than getting sacked a lot, he didn't play terribly the week before either against Carolina.

Players have a lot more to do with victories than coaches, and Favre clearly knows what he's doing on the field, so it might be better for Minnesota's chances if Childress simply let Favre call his own plays.

I am so torn by this comment. I want to rip Easterbrook for suggesting that Favre knows what he is doing on the field since he does have the NFL record for interceptions. But I also realize that Brad Childress makes the play calls, and if Brett Favre decides he wants to audible out of it and "suggest" plays the team could run then he has the freedom to do so and Childress doesn't always like this. So I can either side with the quarterback with the ego or the coach who I think could be Amelia Bedelia-ing his way to the playoffs again. We know there has been disagreement over Favre audibles and who has control over the offense, so there is a chance Favre could call his own plays. Since I am so torn, I think the Vikings should let Favre call his own plays for one week's game. That may help settle it.

But if a player directly challenges the authority of the head coach, trying to make him look bad, he tears up the cohesion of the team. The only thing a player can accomplish by challenging the authority of the head coach is drawing attention to himself. That's been Favre's No. 1 concern for years.

People ripping Brett Favre for selfishness have a special place in my heart. It is TMQ saying this though so I can't love him too much because of the other things he says that I disagree with upon. Therefore Gregg Easterbrook has a special place in my heart for exactly 30 seconds.

(Waits 30 seconds to rip Easterbrook again)

There was a case for the Indianapolis Colts' deliberately losing -- to get rid of the distraction of an undefeated finish, to focus the team on the Super Bowl, to rest starters and avoid injuries. Trying to go 19-0 is a "minkey on your back," as Inspector Clouseau would say.

I hate it when a team being undefeated is a "distraction" on the season or is a "minkey on your back." That's so horrible. What a better way to get the distractions away by having the home crowd boo and replace the focus of the media from the perfect record of the Colts onto how the Colts do in the playoffs after resting their starters. Now instead of the media focusing solely on the perfect record, the media will be solely focused on whether resting the starters paid off in the playoffs or not. So basically Jim Caldwell and Bill Polian have taken the focus off the team and whether they can stay perfect and put it on them as to whether they made the correct call by sitting their starters for part of the game against the Jets.

They have replaced one distraction with another essentially. So instead of the team and management being unified in their attempt to win a Super Bowl and stay perfect, the team and management are unified because they have to defend (especially if they lose in the playoffs) the decision to rest Manning and the other starters in the game against the Jets and probably this week as well.

The Colts do realize they have to win every game starting with their first game of the playoffs don't they? There is still going to be a monkey on the back of the Colts to win since they are going to be the #1 seed, so they may as well get used to it, which I think they are. Again, it was the head coach's call, but I don't see how being undefeated in the postseason is any more pressure than a normal playoff run for a #1 seed that is expected to play well. Either way the team has to be focused and not distracted.

The Super Bowl crown means far more.

This may shock Gregg Easterbrook, but the Colts can win the Super Bowl AND have a perfect record. The New England Patriots came within one quarter of doing this two seasons ago. Winning a Super Bowl and being perfect in the regular season are not two mutually exclusive things.

But everything about the karma of rookie head coach Jim Caldwell's decision to surrender the game by pulling starters, when Indianapolis led in the third quarter, was screwy. Indianapolis was playing at home, before its supporters -- and customers.

So Gregg thinks it was smart decision to rest the starters, he just thinks the Colts should have rested the starters when they were 15-0 and that much closer to a perfect season? I completely buy (and agree with) the idea that those fans in Indianapolis deserve better than they got, but I don't think it would have been a better move to remove the starters next week when the team is only one game away from regular season perfection.

Win at home before the faithful, then don't even dress Peyton Manning and other starters the following week at Buffalo,

At least the Colts made an effort to win the game against the Jets. Not even dressing Manning and some other starters next week would have probably caused a full-fledged riot. Especially if NBC flexed the game to be their Sunday Night Football Game. Imagine the hysteria that would follow if NBC got Curtis Painter v. the Bills when they thought they were getting Manning and regular season perfection v. the Bills.

I don't think teasing the fans with the team possibly having a perfect regular season and then not even playing some starters would a smart move either.

Instead the Indianapolis home crowd was tormented by its heroes taking a third quarter lead, then the coach pulling starters.

I agree. I found it wrong to treat paying customers like this for the last game of the season. If I were a Colts fan I think I would be greatly disappointed.

It's one thing to deliberately stop trying to be undefeated -- Bill Belichick went all-out for 19-0, and look what happened --

His team made the Super Bowl and was one quarter away from going 19-0 and winning the Super Bowl? How come people remember the Patriots undefeated attempt as a bad thing? They almost won the Super Bowl, it's not like they got beat in the first game they played in the playoffs. It isn't a bad thing the Patriots failed. That doesn't mean all teams who don't rest their players and try to go 19-0 are not going to win the Super Bowl.

If a group of people tried to climb to the top of Mount Everest, but failed and were stranded near the peak for a period of time, does that mean another group of people should not even attempt to make it to the top?

Ok, maybe that's a bad example, but you hopefully get my point.

Plus think about this -- when the regular-season finale kicks off, Cincinnati at Jersey/B on Sunday night, from earlier results the Bengals will know whether the game matters to the standings from their perspective (if they can win the third seed) or is meaningless. If the game is meaningless to Cincinnati, Marvin Lewis may rest his starters. Should that happen, the Jets will have faced two consecutive strong teams that didn't try to win the game -- and essentially been issued a free pass to the playoffs, while two of three of the Steelers, Ravens and Broncos are denied.

Let's jump topics here for a second because this passage reminds me that an 18 game schedule is a bad idea. Imagine in an 18 game schedule if most of the divisional positions were wrapped up with three weeks to go. How bad would it stink to have teams basically tanking or resting their starters for three weeks? Don't say I am being alarmist, this could happen. The Saints and Colts already have their divisions wrapped up and would even with an 18 game schedule. I have come to greatly dislike the potential 18 game schedule.

At the moment the stadium clock hits all-naughts for the vanquishing of the season's last undefeated team, the 1972 Dolphins pull the corks, secure in the knowledge that they will reign as the sole perfect team for at least one more year. Gentlemen of 1972, enjoy your annual draught.

Yes, they did go undefeated during the 1972 season, but they also had to play two less games than modern teams do. If it were 1972, the Colts wouldn't have to worry about resting their starters because their next game would be a playoff game. The Dolphins went perfect but it's obviously harder for a team to go perfect in 2009 because they have to play two more games. It's similar to how the UCLA Bruins controlled college basketball for a period of time when recruits didn't mind sitting for a season or two on the bench and the NCAA Tournament required 4 wins to achieve the National Championship because there were fewer teams participating.

Stats of the Week No. 1: Indianapolis has won 23 of its last 25 games, with the sole losses an overtime game in which the Colts never had a possession and a game when the starters were pulled with the Colts leading.

I get this is an impressive stat and I could handle it for the past (way too many) weeks when Gregg mentioned the only game the Colts lost was in overtime when they didn't get the ball, because that was out of their control, but I am not going to be impressed at them only losing because they pulled their starters. That's in the Colts control, so this loss should be noted without an excuse or a caveat in my mind. These stats get more and more arbitrary as Gregg thinks of different and random cut off points to try and prove a when a couple of weeks ago he just ignored the first 6 games of the Titans 2009 season (that they lost) when comparing them with the Colts. Again, he took the Titans record, ignored the first 6 games of this season, and then compared them to the Colts while using the first 6 games of this season.

Stats of the Week No. 8: The Kansas City Chiefs do not have a first quarter touchdown this season.

Really? Even with Todd "The Freaking Offensive Genius" Haley as their head coach? Where's Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin when you need them?

Peterson is a terrific runner but already has fumbled 20 times in 988 touches in his three years; over 15 years, Emmitt Smith fumbled 54 times on 4,924 touches. Peterson's fumbling at about twice the rate Smith did. Okay, Smith is a pretty high standard of comparison.

I disagree. I think Emmitt Smith is a great comparison. Adrian Peterson is considered (rightly or wrongly) as the best running back in the NFL currently, while Emmitt Smith was considered one of the best running backs in the NFL several years ago. Comparing two top running backs in two time periods in regards to fumbles is a good metric in my mind. It doesn't matter that Emmitt Smith is in the Hall of Fame, if Peterson wants to be the greatest runner of this generation (like some claim he may be), he has to stop laying the ball on the ground.

So I disagree with Gregg because I think he is right to make this comparison.

Of course whenever a game goes to overtime, teams were evenly matched. Had the result been different, Favre's fourth-and-goal touchdown pass to Sidney Rice with 22 seconds remaining in regulation would be entered into his personal highlight-reel collection.

As it was with the Greg Lewis catch this year against San Francisco, it was a good throw but an even better catch. Yet, Favre gets the massive amount of credit while Rice just gets kudos among the Favre-love.

When Minnesota scored, I expected the Vikings to go for a deuce and the win. At that point it was 17 degrees with a breeze, and Favre is 40 years old -- declining Minnesota performance in overtime, exactly what happened, was not hard to predict.

Except for the fact the Vikings had scored 30 points in the 2nd half of the game. There was no declining performance by the Vikings at all, so there is no way it could have been predicted...except after the fact of course. Overall, based on how the Vikings were playing on offense, it wasn't a given they would lose in overtime, so going for the two-point conversion probably wasn't the best move. It would have been gutsy though.

Brett Favre was also a lot better in the 2nd half of the game, prompting his fan club, I mean the MNF announcing crew, to ask whether the temperature got warmer in the 2nd half (since Favre can't play in the cold according to some people).

If I were Cincinnati, I'd rather play the Jets in the first round. Jersey/B is first in the league in overall defense and first in rushing offense, which sounds like an unbeatable combination for an outdoor game in January. But the Jets are just a terrible team -- they seem very vulnerable.

That's an interesting way to look at the Jets...calling them "vulnerable." What is the formula supposed to be for success in the playoffs? Good defense, the ability to run the ball and ability to throw the ball well when necessary? The Jets are the best in the NFL at those two things, so that has to count for something, right? Maybe even if they aren't considered the best team in the playoffs, is a team that runs the ball well and plays good defense a team too many other teams want to face? I personally would want to play the Broncos in the 1st round, but that's just me.

I am glad they seem "vulnerable" though. I think Gregg just hates blitzing and the Jets do a lot of that, so his hatred of blitzing makes him say the Jets seem vulnerable. Granted, they do have a rookie quarterback, but I don't know if I would want to play the Jets in the 1st round.

Yet they lost to the defending champion Steelers by only 3 points. You wouldn't think Pittsburgh could be outrushed 175 yards to 48 at home in December and still win.

You wouldn't think the Steelers could not rush the ball well and still win the Super Bowl either, but it happened.

Trailing 27-0 and facing fourth-and-goal on the Houston 9 on the final snap of the first half, Sparano ordered a field goal. Gotta keep a shutout of the resume! Miami was doomed without a touchdown at that point, and as the field goal boomed, TMQ wrote the words "season over" in his notebook.

Most of Gregg's fourth down criticisms weren't incredibly bad for this column. This is the exception. The Dolphins had to win the game to stay in the playoff race and they were down 27-0 at halftime. Regardless of whether they went for it on fourth down or kicked a field goal they were probably not winning this game at the point they didn't go for it on fourth down and settled for the field goal. Maybe it was chicken shit of Tony Sparano but the season wasn't over because the Dolphins didn't go for it. They were doomed because of the 27-0 lead, not because they didn't go for a touchdown at this point and the football gods were angry over this.

Something tells me that since it's been an up-and-down year for the Flying Elvii, Bill Belichick will play the Houston game to win, hoping to enter the postseason on a rising note.

Of course for the Colts to do the same thing and try to gain momentum is absolute lunacy, right? Just because the Colts haven't had an up-and-down year they apparently have no need to enter the postseason on a rising note. I find it interesting Gregg seems to think it is smart for the Colts to rest their players (and break up the momentum the team has) because they don't need momentum in the playoffs due to their record, but it's smart for the Patriots to risk injuries to key players just to get a little momentum. These are different situations, but they aren't different enough to where neither team would need momentum.

Western Hemisphere Speed Barista Challenge: Objective is to get through the line at a high-end coffee shop and obtain a half-skim double-caramel rapafrapazapachino before your double-parked car is ticketed.

This is a challenge I am 94% sure that Peter King is willing to enter into. Do not dare him to get coffee at a brisk pace in order to avoid a ticket!

'Tis Better to Have Rushed and Lost Than Never to Have Rushed At All: Leading 17-10 with 2:43 remaining in regulation, New Orleans faced fourth-and-inches on its 40, City of Tampa down to one timeout. Saints, you are 13-1, your opponent is 2-12, you have the league's No. 1-ranked offense, just gain one yard, ice the game and win the first seed before your home faithful! ... That can't be the punt team coming on! The punt was returned for a touchdown, and New Orleans lost in overtime. Let this be a warning from the football gods: When you reach what TMQ calls a "go win the game" moment -- a play that causes a win -- be bold.

I think the Saints should have gone for it here as well, but I don't think Gregg is completely thinking through the logic behind why the Saints punted. The Saints were punting to a team (Tampa Bay) that hasn't been widely known for it's special teams returns for touchdowns since it's inception in 1976 and were giving the ball to a rookie quarterback with one timeout on the road. Gregg has said on several occasions (once specifically in regard to a Patriots game earlier this year) that a punt block is more likely than a punt return, so I can't believe Gregg would actually think the Bucs would return the punt for a touchdown.

Granted, the Saints were not very aggressive by not going for it, but they chose the option that was considered "safer" and it didn't work out for them. It doesn't mean it was the wrong move at the time.

Unwanted Player of the Week No. 1 In the gift-giving ceremony at Indianapolis, the Jets' go-ahead touchdown was scored by Marques Douglas off a fumble recovery. Douglas went undrafted out of Division I-AA Howard University, then was cut by Baltimore (three times), New Orleans, City of Tampa and San Francisco. Now he starts for the league's top-rated defense.

Gregg plays loose with some facts here. Douglas was cut by Baltimore twice, that's true, but the 3rd time he was let go so they would have cap room to sign Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs. So yes, he was cut, but it wasn't because of his performance. Before that he wasn't cut by the Bucs, he was traded to the Ravens. Before that he wasn't cut by the 49ers, he played out his entire 3 year deal with the 49ers and signed a free agent contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. See?

So in one sentence Gregg is wrong twice by saying two of these teams cut Douglas. A little research goes a long way.

The Sorry Two: Buffalo and Detroit are the only NFL teams (other than expansion Houston) to fail to reach the playoffs in this decade. The Lions were once dominant, the Bills are the sole NFL club to reach four consecutive Super Bowls -- to see both perennially awful is painful.

The Lions have won only one playoff game since 1963. The last conference championship was in 1957 and that was the last time they won an NFL Championship as well. So to say the Lions were "once dominant" is correct on its face but a little misleading. The Lions haven't been dominant for over 50 years and have never been dominant ever since the NFL Championship was played in what we know now as the Super Bowl. Football has changed so much since that time, there is almost no way to compare the dominance of the Lions 50 years ago to the NFL today. So Gregg's right, but it really has no bearing on the Lions NFL legacy because it happened before the modern NFL. So for an entire generation who aren't Lions fans it's not really that painful to see them struggle, we are used to it.

The Lions legacy unfortunately is only a losing legacy.

The Chargers are the sole team to have beaten the Colts' starters in their past 25 outings,

Yeah, but the Colts lost in overtime when they never had a possession. Isn't this something we hear every single week from Gregg? He uses it every week to show how good the Colts have been, but now he is trying to flip it around and show that game proves the Chargers can beat the Colts.

It's funny how statistics and sentences can be used one way for a certain time period to prove one thing and then turned around to mean something else. The loss to the Chargers in overtime is used weekly by Gregg to show that the Colts have been the best team in the AFC, but can also be used to say the Chargers can beat the Colts.

Gregg then adds a picture of the old "Star Trek" (the one with William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy) when talking about science/war and that reminded me that I watched the new "Star Trek" movie this weekend and I couldn't help but think about what Gregg would have (or did) second-guessed during the movie in TMQ. I want to thank him for trying to ruin the movie for me. It failed, but he has at least pervaded my mind to the point I think about him and what he would say when I watch a science-fiction movie.

Single Worst Play of the Season -- So Far: Jacksonville came into New England having never won there, but very much alive for the postseason. The Jags showed some courage, going for it on fourth-and-1 from the 35 on their first possession -- though using a bland everybody-straight-ahead play that failed.

See, you can't just go for it on fourth down to please the football gods, you have to go for it with the exact specifications the football gods require. I really think Gregg needs to write down all the rules for pleasing the football gods so NFL teams can make themselves more predictable (yet more successful) by loyally following them. I think I know the rules, but having them written down would definitely help me.

Bland, "straight ahead" plays don't always fail. I have seen plenty of games where teams have gone straight ahead on fourth down and gotten the 1st down. Gregg just never mentions it when it happens this way.

As TMQ has been noting this season, on short-yardage downs, when the defense is cranked to go straight ahead, a little misdirection is essential.

As I have noted this season, NFL players are not drones who are incapable of changing direction very quickly. Plus, if a team uses misdirection a lot, the defense will no longer fall for it after a period of time. Its not a bad idea every once in a while, but if misdirection is used frequently it runs the risk of failing due to the defense being able to predict it. I still believe the quickest and best way to the 1st down is straight ahead or at least with as little complicated running/play calling as possible.

I couldn't help but go to Gregg's official website and read some reviews of his new book, "Sonic Boom," and then I made his way to his blog. I think he is guilty of "Easterbrook Creep!" Let's look at some of his blog entries:

The first major review of Sonic Boom is out and it’s very favorable.

What? A review in the Wall Street Journal on December 29, 2009 when the book doesn't even come out until that day? You can't tell me the Wall Street Journal read the book and wrote a review the day they got the book. They reviewed the book before it came out, that's "Easterbrook Creep!"

Barnes & Noble just placed a large initial order. Whether bookstores order a title before its release is surprisingly important.

What? On November 19, 2009 Barnes and Noble ordered a book that wasn't even available to be bought yet? This book is creeping up on us, why doesn't Gregg warn us about "Easterbrook Creep?"

Sonic Boom has just sold to a major Chinese publishing house, for translation and publication in China.

You mean on November 18, 2009 the book was getting translated into Chinese when it hasn't even be released in the United States yet? How can you translate a book that isn't even available in English yet? This book is guilty of "creeping" on us!

See how annoying this "creep" thing is? If this book weren't a book he wrote, I bet Gregg would accuse it of "creeping" on us. He already mentioned a few months ago in TMQ how he didn't understand how a Sarah Palin book could be a top seller if it hasn't even be released yet, which isn't too different from a company ordering a large pre-order for his book. I can see Gregg asking, "how do they know how much to order?"

I do agree with Gregg Easterbrook on Brett Favre and I agreed with him on nearly all of his fourth down calls, which is surprising overall. If I missed anything egregious, tell me.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

9 comments National Columnists Argue Over What Urban Meyer Should Do With His Life

As I am sure everyone has heard by now, Urban Meyer retired, unretired, and then took a leave of absence from the University of Florida football program all within the past three days. I have no idea why Urban Meyer did what he did. Apparently he thought his medical condition required extended time away from the Florida Gator football program, then decided he would miss the team too much and he didn't need to quit completely. Needless to say national columnists have had a field day with this. Ranging from Jay Mariotti doing his typical "Mariotti criticizing someone for a personal decision" column to Mike Celizic saying if Meyer was selfish by continuing to coach the team and even questioning why the University of Florida granted the leave of absence. It's a bizarre situation, no doubt.

The thing that has annoyed me the most is people have said he "pulled a Favre," and putting this situation in the same category as my least favorite waffler. It's not like Favre's situation at all. It would be like Favre's situation if Meyer retired from coaching and after the University of Florida had hired Dan Mullen to coach the team announced he wanted to come back and coach Florida. If he couldn't then he wanted to be released from his contract. Then Meyer went to the University of Wisconsin, retired after that year and then signed with the University of Alabama to be their head coach. Then, and only then, would the situations be comparable. You can't tell this to Mariotti and Celizic though.

Mariotti is first.

I am trying to understand the fluctuations of the human mind, the magnetic pull of pride and ego,

It sounds like Jay is trying to understand himself a little bit.

Mind explaining, Urban Meyer, what those very bizarre 24 hours were just about?

If there is a worse sportswriter who should be giving recommendations on how to lead their life than Jay Mariotti, I would love to know his/her name. Jay Mariotti gets paid to scream into a camera. He gets paid a lot of money for this. Here's all that is required to have this talent:

1. Find a camera
2. Pick a position on an issue
3. Scream into the camera

Mariotti has also alienated pretty much everyone in the entire world with his terrible sportswriting, and frankly, I think the only people who like him are paid to like him or at least paid to deal with him. Throw in the fact Mariotti's job is to just give his opinion on sports in emphatic fashion while being surrounded by food and drinks at all times and I just find it hard for Mariotti to understand what kind of advice is appropriate for Urban Meyer and his family.

So this is a man who should not be giving advice to Urban Meyer on life decisions in my mind.

All your anguish about slipping in and out of consciousness in the back of an ambulance, your heart heaving in pain and feeling heavier than a barge, your mortality teetering much too early at age 45? All your tears when telling your team Saturday that you were leaving the Florida football program for health reasons, sounding like you'd never return?

All a product of an overly emotional decision based on probably being very scared about his future health and coaching with this medical condition. It all sounds irrational, and it probably is. Meyer probably didn't want to be a "figurehead" coach like Joe Paterno and Bobby Bowden and was afraid if he wasn't 100% healthy he couldn't coach like he wanted to. Once he calmed down, he realized he could still coach the Gators and make life changes that will allow him to coach the Gators for 20 more years.

For the record, I don't like Urban Meyer and I hate the Florida Gators. I can be nice and fair to those that deserve it, but overall I wish Urban Meyer would never win another football game at Florida.

for all his decreeing and anger at everyone, I would think that Mariotti would be nicer since God has already put him on warning once before.

when your oldest daughter proclaimed, "I get my daddy back!'' and you suggested the scene with her was a message from God?

She is 18 years old and going to Georgia Tech next year, so it's not like she hanging around the house for the foreseeable future. She is 18 and calls her father "daddy." That's all I have to say about this.

What happened to the breakthrough perspective, the perfectly-in-place priorities that had you propped up like a clear-minded American hero during the holiday season?

It sounds like he changed his mind. He decided he could balance football and his health. It's his life, if he wants to die on the football field and leave his family without a father, this is a personal matter. That's probably not going to happen, but many of the same jerks who thought Meyer quit Florida to pursue other jobs (of which I was one and let's be honest, a lot of people initially thought that), can't now pretend they thought Meyer was really retiring for his family and criticize him for this decision.

Well, Meyer's grand stance for health and family lasted all of one night, until he awakened Sunday morning in the town he and Tim Tebow made famous. That's when he went to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium for the Gators' final pre-Sugar Bowl practice in Gainesville, where he gazed at the national championship signs in the Swamp and noticed how lively and energetic the players were.

That reasoning is stupid, I can easily admit that. Still, this is a personal decision for Urban Meyer and I have to be honest a little bit, with his health problems not being life threatening I was wondering why he completely stepped down as head coach of Florida. I thought he should take a leave of absence and get his health under control and make lifestyle changes before he comes back...which is what he ended up doing. I thought retiring from coaching completely was a bit severe.

Coaching football is his life. It's easy to criticize him for this decision and completely not think about this. Meyer has worked for 20 years to get where he currently resides in the college football hierarchy. I am sure he loves his family, but he didn't work hard just to give it up when a health problem becomes a temporary road block. It sounds stupid, but it is true.

I wanted to believe Meyer when he said Saturday night that he was quitting in fear of dropping dead, that years of chest pains and an arachnoid cyst on his brain had forced him to value life as a husband and father over his continued journey atop college football's most accomplished program.

This is a lie. Jay Mariotti wanted Meyer to go coach another team or unretire so he could roast him really good in a column. Jay Mariotti himself had a heart attack. I am sure he made lifestyle changes and got back into sportswriting. Assuming Mariotti has family of some type don't you think at least one family member wondered if he would start taking it easier? Well he didn't and I don't think that makes him selfish, so I feel the same about Urban Meyer. Sure being a sportswriter and a head coach are two completely different things, they each have their own health challenges though. Meyer has to commit himself to lifestyle changes if he wants to improve his health. It was a temporary roadblock. I am a little surprised everyone is overreacting to Meyer's initial overreacting by retiring.

So much for Nicki Meyer, the freshman volleyball player at Georgia Tech, getting her daddy back.

Holy crap, she is going to college. She is not a 7 year old child anymore.

If it's too strong to describe his change of mind as disingenuous -- he is dealing with serious health issues -- I'm confused as to why Meyer didn't think things out before coming out so definitively the previous night, particularly in a piece in the New York Times.

He stupidly made an emotional decision and then regretted it. Something may be in the water down at the University of Florida because Billy Donovan did something similar when he backed out of the Orlando Magic head coaching job a few years ago.

If Meyer had made the decision non-definitively in the beginning the media would have firmly jumped on the "he is blaming his health but is completely trying to jump to a different football program or perhaps the NFL." So Meyer wanted to sound definitive, not knowing he would change his mind.

So how does the fear subside in a matter of hours? How does a life-and-death, self-destructive frame of reference disappear upon watching the Gators practice for 90 minutes? "I think it's very simple: the love that I have for these players,'' Meyer said Sunday. "When I saw them come out there today after our meeting we had last night ... when I sat back and watched them go at it and our coaching staff and the program we built, to not try would not be the right thing to do.

He sees his players as family. In bizarro sports world a coach who sticks around for his players because he gave them his word that he would coach them would be celebrated. I don't understand Meyer thinking of his players as family, but simply because I don't understand doesn't mean Meyer is making the incorrect long term decision for himself.

Upon hearing that, I looked over at Meyer's wife, Shelley, and the couple's three children.

Jay was probably just checking out Urban Meyer's daughter. He can't fool me.

Can the man change, take care of himself? "That's what we're about to find out,'' Shelley Meyer said calmly before she and her daughters, also speaking to the media, were interrupted by Foley and Florida sports-information personnel and whisked from the media center into waiting black SUVs.

I can't imagine Shelley Meyer is very happy with her husband's decision. Guess whose problem that is? Urban Meyer's. We don't need to give our two cents on everything, but that's how sports are nowadays everyone gives their opinion on everything and judges whether the decision was right or not.

And yeah, I do it too.

To Meyer's credit, he understands he'll have to change his style as the ultimate hands-on, do-everything coach. The chest pains tell him that much, along with the story of Wake Forest basketball coach Skip Prosser, who died suddenly after a heart attack. "It's something that started about four years ago. It was chest pains that became rather significant two years ago,'' said Meyer, who never let on publicly about the problems until recently.

To be fair, Skip Prosser was 11 years older than Urban Meyer when he died and his heart attack was considered sudden, which means I am assuming Prosser hadn't gotten a lot of advance warning that his heart could give out. It's not like Prosser had warning and ignored the warning signs. Meyer has warning ahead of time and can make the necessary changes to his lifestyle. It's a little bit different situation.

So, how does a Type A maniac cut back? "That's something I've got to figure out,'' Meyer said. "There's obviously other coaches who have great careers and have done great things for a long time. I'm going to get that fixed ... I've had a 30-year career in nine years. You just can't do that.''

It's important to note that while Urban Meyer has an incredibly stressful job, there are thousands of people in the world who have incredibly stressful jobs and also have heart defects or other medical conditions that don't respond well to stress. My guess is that most of the people who have this problem in the world learn to navigate and manage the risk while not up and quitting their day job. It's a different situation, but few people accuse these everyday people of being selfish for not quitting their stressful jobs.

But I'm disappointed that Urban Meyer, blessed with wealth and success, didn't go out on his own terms in his mid-40s and make a statement for humankind.

That he is going to let a heart condition completely dictate how he lives his life? Has Jay Mariotti thought that perhaps there is a guy in Iowa who five years from now will be diagnosed with a heart condition similar to Urban Meyer's and that person will gain strength in knowing if a guy like Urban Meyer, who has a ton of stress in his life, can live with the heart problem so can he? This person will know it's not the death sentence or the health problem that will ruin his life and everything he does. Isn't that a bold statement in itself as well, even though it's not an immediately obvious or public statement? Isn't learning to manage stress and not let a health condition change what you enjoy in life sending a message as well?

Mike Celizic also has a take, other than "who is Urban Meyer?" and "if he doesn't coach for a team in Boston or New York I don't know who he is."

Celizic's take.

It’s about the team, not the individual, and you know that’s what Urban Meyer preaches because that’s what coaches do.

I think Celizic is a little confused. Urban Meyer decided to do what was best for the Florida team in the long run. So in a bizarre way, he lived up to this standard coaches set. In regards to his family, they will just have to understand this decision I guess. If they know him like most people know their parents/spouse, they will eventually understand.

But now he’s asking everyone — team, school, family — to sacrifice for him because he just realized that he’s more important than all of them.

Nearly everyone is perfectly willing to sacrifice for him because neither the Florida football program or his recruits are sacrificing anything in the long run. This sacrifice really only goes for Meyer's family, which makes this a personal decision he will have to live with making.

At least it doesn’t work both ways for most of us. If we’ve got a personal problem, nobody’s going to tell us to take a month or six months or even a year off while we sort it out and not to worry about money because the company’s going to keep paying us.

I think Mike Celizic is the only person in this situation who has a problem with the "leave of absence" part of Meyer's decision. Doesn't he realize how stupid it would be for the University of Florida to NOT grant Meyer a leave of absence while he deals with a personal medical condition? It's stupid even from a non-football perspective. Of all the times to compare what coaches and players do in sports to real life, this is probably one of the most irrelevant times to do this, when it comes to a coach's physical health.

I can't even fathom how NOT giving Meyer a leave of absence was the right decision in this situation.

It only works both ways if you’re as extraordinarily successful and charismatic as Urban Meyer.

Or work in sports. When an NFL player gets cut, his contract says he still gets paid a certain amount of money. In "the real world" many people when they are fired don't get severance packages. Urban Meyer is greatly valued at the University of Florida and I think everyone understands he has to take a few months off to benefit the school in the long run. This would be like not giving a professor with cancer a leave of absence to go through chemo-therapy. I am not sure a school would decline that leave of absence request either.

Win a couple of national championships, give inspirational talks about values and family and faith, attract the top recruits, inspire the alumni to write big checks to the general fund, and you can do anything you want.

Like take a few months off during the part of the season where the team doesn't play games to take care of a non-life threatening heart condition? That Urban Meyer sure is running all over the University of Florida administration isn't he? If we changed the name "Urban Meyer" to "Mack Brown" why don't I feel like we would get the same reaction from Mike Celizic? I think Celizic is being harsh on the University of Florida for granting the leave of absence because Meyer is a younger coach. At least that's my guess.

If Meyer were my football coach I’d bend so far over backwards for him a platoon of chiropractors couldn’t straighten me out again. I wouldn’t care about what’s right.

It's good Mike Celizic says he would do the same thing and give Meyer time off, but what's not "right" about this? So it would be "right" for the University of Florida to tell Urban Meyer, "either coach full-time with your health condition or retire from coaching football completely to get this heart problem taken care of?" This would be the right thing to do? How is granting Meyer a leave of absence not the right thing to do?

On Saturday, when Meyer quit his job because he feared for his heart and his health, he told The New York Times that when he told his family that he had coached his last, his 18-year-old daughter, Nicki, hugged him and said, “I get my daddy back.”

Here we go again...

That hug, he told the newspaper, he took “as a sign from God that this was the right thing to do.”

Well, then Urban Meyer went to go talk to God's right hand man (Tim Tebow) and changed his mind. It's pretty clear from the immediacy of his decision to take a leave of absence instead of retiring was something he regretted very quickly.

If he changes his mind again, then I will jump all over Meyer.

Just a day later, when he went on the practice field and saw how spirited and upbeat his team was, he realized he couldn’t just quit.

Again, this is stupid reasoning. I can accept this criticism of Meyer as being valid.

But believing what you say and actually following up on it are different things. When your daughter says, “I get my daddy back,” that should be like a slap in the face telling you that you’ve been spending too much time in the office.


And when you find yourself texting recruits on your cell phone during church services, as Meyer has confessed to doing, then your faith does not come before your job. If it did, you’d leave the phone in the car.

Because Mike Celizic is the Joel Osteen of sportswriters. He is the final judge of whether a person's faith is the primary focus of that person's life. Once a person dies, he/she has to stand judge in front of Mike Celizic who will tally up all the times that person was doing something else when they should have been focused on their own personal faith. We all stand in judgment in front of Mike Celizic at some point.

Yes, all the other things he talks about are important, but nothing is more important than being what he is: a coach.

He's coached for the majority of his life. It essentially does define him at this point. I don't think this is such a bad thing as long as it doesn't negatively affect the rest of his life (which remains to be seen).

He’s got plenty of money to retire now if he wants, and there’s plenty more doing football analysis on TV. So there’s no reason to keep coaching and keep putting his health at risk. If it really were about family, he’d be an ex-coach now and not a coach-in-limbo.

It's his opinion, if he wants to put his health at risk then it's not Mike Celizic who dies or gets severely hurt, it's Urban Meyer and his family. It's his heart and he thinks he can manage the risks. I don't think this is something that should be put to a group vote outside of the Meyer family.

They don’t delegate. They’re consumed by the job in a way that few people can understand or appreciate. They try to control everything.

Urban Meyer said he is definitely going to try and succeed in making lifestyle changes, he said he was taking a leave of absence until he feels like he can come back health-wise. Then we will know for sure if he can make the necessary changes.

Meyer didn’t become perhaps the greatest coach in college football by not sweating the small stuff. He didn’t do it by putting his feet up and putting problems off for another day. He didn’t do it by cutting back on the time he spends with his team. He didn’t do it by accepting defeat.

And he especially didn’t do it by putting his family or anything else ahead of his job and his obsessive need to win and be the best and do right by his players and his employers and his fans.

So it was perfectly fine for Urban Meyer to get where he currently is by ignoring his family and making football first for the past 20 years? Regardless of some of the scares he has had on the sidelines? But now that everyone else in the world is aware of his heart problem and he is taking measures to take care of himself and his health it's not all right to put football first? What has changed except for Meyer's knowledge of his heart problem and the fact he needs to take time off to make lifestyle changes?

He’s a great coach and an awfully good man. But this one is still about him and not the team. And that’s not right.

Apparently it's fine to make a selfish decision that is all about him when he is retiring and not trying to coach the team and recruits he had made commitments to, but it's not fine to make a selfish decision when he decides to not retire and uphold all the job-related obligations he currently has? I just want to make sure I have this straight.

As far as Urban Meyer's family goes, if his family really thought he was going to just be able to stay away from coaching then they didn't know him that well. I am sure after years of he and his family knowing that there was some health problems he had and him still not taking a step back from coaching, the mere acknowledgment that he needs to learn to delegate and take time off to deal with his health is a relief to his family. We have to remember they have been aware of Meyer's health problem for a while now. I don't think he is being selfish right now, he is being selfish if he doesn't make the necessary lifestyle changes when he comes back though.

I have no idea why Mike Celizic is against the idea of a leave of absence for Meyer. I still don't get that. I think Urban Meyer has earned the chance to deal with his health problems and have the head coaching job still there for him if/when he wants to come back.

Monday, December 28, 2009

17 comments MMQB Review: Peter Gets Confused Because There Isn't A Clearcut Favorite Edition

First, I want everyone to notice that my comeback on Bill Simmons in the ESPN NFL Pick 'Em league is nearly complete. Now I just have to hold him off for one more week. I wish I could say the same for my competition with Peter King (looks down sadly).

I'm going to skip the long, rambling introduction about Peter King and MMQB and relay to you something Cris Collinsworth (who I generally like because he can be insightful and is a 200% upgrade over John Madden in my mind) said about Brett Favre during last night's Cowboys-Redskins game. NBC was showing astounding video of Brad Childress and Brett Favre having a heated discussion on the sidelines during last week's game against Carolina. Since there was no audio we have no real indication whether it was the famous sidelines argument, but that's what NBC wants us to believe so we can believe that. While the video was playing Collinsworth said he agreed with Favre on the issue of whether he should have been pulled from the game or not (which I actually do too after some thought) and said this (paraphrased) in regard to Favre:

"I mean this is a guy who Childress begged to come out of retirement, he's one of the fiercest competitors in the game and he has played incredibly well this year. He's saved the Vikings and rescued them from hopelessness (I think that's the word he used, if not it was a word like this), so I think he should stay in the game."

The Vikings went 10-6 last year, made the playoffs and won their division. They weren't a bad team last year, when is the media going to start remembering this? Ever?

Ok, no more Favre rants, on to Peter King's MMQB, which he is posting later and later on Monday morning. It's like if the best teams in the NFL don't play or win their games during the weekend he can't find anything to talk about.

The link.

Five things I want to hit right at the top:
3. Steve Smith, the Carolina Steve Smith, leads the NFL in guts.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

9 comments Mike Celizic Thinks Peyton Manning Should Play Better Defense

Mike Celizic, who just a few days ago mentioned that Eli Manning should be an outside MVP candidate, seems to believe that Peyton Manning is at fault for the Colts not winning 3 or 4 Super Bowls while he is the quarterback of the team. I mention the "Eli Manning for MVP argument" because in the article Celizic wrote that Eli Manning has the same amount of Super Bowl wins and appearances as his more-famous older brother, Peyton. This is a true statement, but while indicating that it is primarily the quarterback's responsibility to make and win a Super Bowl, Celizic forgets to remember that football is a team sport and there are other aspects of a team that are required for that team to be successful. Namely, defense and special teams.

While Eli Manning has developed into a nice quarterback for the Giants, it wasn't completely his doing that the Giants made the Super Bowl. He took care of the ball and played well, but the defense of the Giants was the unit responsible for shutting down the Patriots and the other teams the Giants played in those playoffs. Look at Eli Manning's playoff statistics. They are not bad, but they are also not overwhelmingly impressive. It's clear Eli helped the Giants make the Super Bowl, it wasn't completely his doing the Giants won 4 games on the road to the Super Bowl.

All of this is relevant today because Mike Celizic thinks that Peyton Manning is responsible for the Colts not winning more Super Bowls. He thinks Peyton deserves more heat for the Colt's playoff failures. I personally believe that while Peyton Manning hasn't exactly lit it up in his playoff appearances, the Colts lack of success is more of a team failure than a individual failure. I also believe any sportswriter who doesn't understand football is a team sport and does some research into other famous QB's playoff stats will see why Manning doesn't get the heat he "deserves" for the Colts playoff defeats.

In seven years, Peyton Manning will be 40 years old, and you can make book right now that you won’t find him playing for any team other than the Colts.

This is exactly the same thing everyone thought about Joe Montana, Brett Favre (not counting his time as a Falcon), Emmitt Smith, Jerry Rice, and a long list of other athletes not only in football but other sports as well. Who would have thought Michael Jordan would ever not be a Chicago Bull? Dan Marino almost came back to play for the Minnesota Vikings (what is so alluring about the Vikings to older quarterbacks?).

So basically, it is very premature to say Manning is going to play for the Colts his entire NFL career. If it all goes to hell for the Colts over the next couple of years, who is to say Manning wouldn't accept an offer from a team to come play for them or wouldn't be traded to another team?

And he will never fight with his coach over anything, whether it’s playing time or a pizza order.

I don't think we can say "never," but since Peyton Manning currently basically runs the Colts offense, this is a fairly safe bet to come true. If Manning ever loses some power to make play calls, audibles, or decisions on the field then he very well may start fighting with his head coach.

Who would have ever thought that Brad Childress would try and challenge the authority of Brett Favre? The same thing could happen a few years from now to Peyton Manning. I try not to say "never" anytime it comes to what athletes and teams will choose to do in the future.

I hope we think about that and appreciate it when the time comes, although it’s more likely we won’t.

Yes, if only there was some way we could appreciate Peyton Manning a little bit more. Here is a list of his major endorsement contracts from 2006. I would assume he has gained another one or two of them since that time. Peyton Manning and his Colts team are shown several times on national television playing their football games. Manning is also widely considered to be one of the best quarterbacks in the history of the NFL.

At some point, I am sure we will all start appreciating him a little bit more. Maybe we should build a statue in front of the White House or make his birthday as a national holiday? Outside of being given those two things, Manning is pretty well appreciated among the media and fans alike.

Good behavior tends to slip past our radar.

This is a one page article and Mike Celizic is killing space. That can't bode well for the rest of the column.

That’s why this year has been all about Brett Favre in the NFL. He spent the summer dancing the retirement tango, then won a bunch of games for the Vikings, and now he’s getting into sideline battles with his coach and forcing his teammates to choose between his ego and the coach’s authority.

I wouldn't exactly call what Favre has done as "bad behavior," but more like it was diva behavior that reflected poorly upon him. Since the beginning of the NFL season very few people have focused on Favre's retirement dance the past couple of summers and have begun focusing on his great performance as a quarterback at the age of 40 for the Vikings. Only this past Monday has anyone even thought about criticizing or focusing on Favre usurping his coach's authority...partially because no one knew this was happening.

This year, he’s the quarterback of the last undefeated team in the NFL.

I haven't heard anything about this. Why hasn't the media focused on the success of Manning and the Colts at all this season? I would think at some point there would be a story about Manning and the Colts coming close to having a perfect season. Where is Peter King to talk about this when you need him? WHY HASN'T ANYONE MENTIONED THE COLTS ARE PERFECT???? WHERE ARE YOU NATIONAL MEDIA WHEN I NEED YOU TO TELL ME THESE THINGS????

If he stays healthy, by the time he retires he’ll hold every passing record there is.

Not the record for most interceptions all-time. Brett Favre seems to have a stranglehold on that record.

Yet always, it seems, the story is about someone else who’s more interesting or more flamboyant or more charismatic or in more trouble with the law.

I have no idea what Mike Celizic is talking about here. Maybe because he only pays attention to teams from Boston and New York he doesn't realize Sports Illustrated did an entire mega-feature on Manning this year. I don't know how Celizic can miss this, but Manning is considered the best quarterback in the NFL right now by many people. I don't know how Celizic can say the story is always about another quarterback, because that is in no way accurate.

Let's just say, Peyton Manning is kind of a big deal...people know him.

This is a shame, because Peyton Manning is the face of excellence in the NFL or any sport.

The NFL knows this, which is why they have made him the face of the NFL and he is featured in pretty much any national advertisement for the NFL, has hosted Saturday Night Live, and you can't watch an NFL game on a Sunday without seeing an advertisement featuring his face.

He plays the most difficult position in sports with a level of skill not seen since, well, since forever. And nobody seems to notice.

I don't know if Manning is the best quarterback of all-time, which is what Celizic is indicating here, but he is definitely up there in the rankings. Also, everyone notices how great Manning is at being a quarterback. I am not sure there has ever been a football season that has gone by in which thousands of people haven't noticed that Peyton Manning is a good football player and a good citizen.

How about something regarding his failure to get to the Super Bowl other than in 2006, the year he won it?

Yes, Peyton Manning is a bum because he didn't play defense and special teams well during his career when the AFC has won 8 of the 11 Super Bowls since Manning entered the NFL in 1998. It's all his fault he plays in a tough conference and he can't singlehandedly score 40 points every playoff game to get his team into the Super Bowl. Every. Single. Year.

Manning and the Colts won four playoff games that year. Since then, they’ve won zero playoff games despite 25 regular-season wins in the past two seasons. Shouldn’t the greatest quarterback in the game do a bit better than that?

Yes, the greatest quarterback in the game should do a little bit better than that. Unfortunately, Peyton Manning is not the only player on his team, so he can't singlehandedly defeat other playoff teams. We also have to remember that Manning has played his entire career in a strong AFC Conference. The Patriots and the Steelers both have had strong teams nearly the entire decade. It's not like the Colts were the best team year after year.

Another fact to remember is the Colts do have 25 regular season wins over the past couple of seasons, but the NFL playoffs are a win-or-go-home one game deal...and most of the time the Colts are playing another strong AFC team, so it's not like they can just run over whichever team they play in the playoffs.

I don't mean to sound like Peter King, but the only reason the Colts didn't win a ROAD playoff game last year is because of a coin flip in overtime. I make fun of Peter King for talking about this a lot, but this fact has to be acknowledged here.

The talk in Indianapolis is about whether the Colts should charge to the finish line bound and determined to finish the season undefeated or follow the franchise tradition of throwing away meaningless late-season games in the interests of keeping Manning and other key players healthy.

The real question has nothing to do with the next two games and everything to do with the ones to follow.

Will the Colts be able to run the ball well enough to win a playoff game? Can the slightly beat-up Colts defense handle a tough playoff game against a good team, even if they are playing at home? I don't know of too many other questions I can think of right now.

Is Manning going to win them? And if not this year, then when?

I am pretty tired of Mike Celizic blaming Peyton Manning solely for the Colts playoff struggles. Let's look at Peyton Manning's playoff statistics (using completion percentage, TD/INT ratio, yards passing, and QB rating) and team record versus other Hall of Fame caliber quarterbacks of his era to see where Manning ranks in regards to playoff performance:

Peyton Manning: 61.7%, 22 TD/17 INT, 4208 yards (280.5 y/g), 85.0 rating. (Team record: 7-8)

Tom Brady: 62.5%, 26 TD/12 INT, 3954 yards (232.6 y/g), 88.0 rating (Team record: 14-3)

Joe Montana: 62.7%, 45 TD/ 21 INT, 5772 yards (251.0 y/g), 95.6 rating (Team record: 16-7)

Steve Young: 62.0%, 20 TD/ 13 INT, 3326 yards (166.3 /g), 85.8 rating (Team record: 12-8)

Dan Marino: 56.0%, 32 TD/ 24 TD, 4510 yards (250.6 y/g), 77.1 rating (Team record: 8-10)

Troy Aikman: 63.7%, 23 TD/ 17 TD, 3849 yards (240.6 y/g), 88.3 rating (Team record: 11-5)

Brett Favre: 60.7%, 39 TD/ 28 INT, 5311 yards (241.4 y/g), 85.2 rating (Team record: 12-10)

John Elway: 54.5%, 27 TD/ 21 INT, 4964 yards (225.6 y/g), 79.7 rating (Team record: 14-8)

This information tells me several things:

1. The Colts may have been behind in many of the playoff games they played in because Peyton Manning has thrown for more yards than any of the other quarterbacks I compared here. Or the Colts may just throw the ball a lot in the playoffs.

2. As far as team record goes, there has to be other variables to a team's success other than how the quarterback performs. What else explains the fact John Elway's team has a 14-8 record in the playoffs despite the fact he has performed significantly worse than Peyton Manning has in the playoffs? John Elway has two Super Bowl rings and it's not solely because of him that his team won the Super Bowl.

3. Even when compared to his counterpart and arch-rival Tom Brady, Manning still doesn't have significantly worse playoff statistics. So why does Brady's team have a 14-3 record while the Colts have a 7-8 record? Is it because Brady is more clutch than Manning or are there are other variables present that affected the outcome of the game? It could also have to do with the fact the Patriots were a better team than the Colts when they faced each other in the playoffs. (The answer is "there are other variables present that affected the outcome of the game.")

4. Has Peyton Manning been lights out in the playoffs? No, but his statistics have been nearly as good as quarterbacks who won multiple Super Bowls.

5. Mike Celizic is wrong to blame the Colts playoff woes on Peyton Manning not stepping up when he needs to.

If his skills are at a peak, so is his career. It’s time to separate himself from all the one-ring quarterbacks in league history and get that second title under his belt.

I am sure that Peyton Manning would love to have another Super Bowl ring but it's not completely up to him. The Colts defense has to play well and certain breaks have to go the team's way as well.

For example, Nick Harper can't get tripped up by Ben Roethlisberger desperately grabbing him as he is racing to get a touchdown off a fumble by Jerome Bettis. Another example of luck coming into play is the Colts also can't lose a coin toss in overtime that gives the opponent the ball first. There are other situations that are too "what-if" for me, like how the Patriots had a mini-dynasty in the 2000's when Belichick had Manning's number, what if that hadn't happened? Would the Colts have more Super Bowl appearances and victories?

Overall should the Colts defense have stopped the Chargers last year in overtime and in the matchups they had with the Patriots the playoffs? Yes, they should have potentially won 1 or more of these games, but that's exactly my point. The Colts record in the playoffs is not dependent solely on Peyton Manning's performance.

And then, if he wants people 40 years from now to say he was as good as Tom Brady, he’d better start working on Nos. three and four.

This is the same thing people were saying about Alex Rodriguez before he won the World Series with the Yankees this past year. The playoffs are a small sample size, in fact the NFL playoffs are an even smaller sample size than in the NBA, NHL, and MLB. Peyton Manning is as good as Tom Brady. We have regular season statistics with larger sample sizes that prove this to be true.

I don't know how Mike Celizic can't get there is more that goes into a successful team than a successful quarterback. It's very unfair to blame all the Colt's problems in the playoffs on Peyton Manning. He can only do so much.

We saw it in the NFL a generation ago when Dan Marino was the state-of-the-art in passing. He set all the records that Favre is breaking now and Manning will break in due course. When he retired, critics agreed he was the greatest quarterback ever, even if he never did win a title.

I never agreed to this. Dan Marino is not the greatest quarterback ever.

It wasn’t his fault, they decided, if the Dolphins were never quite good enough on defense when he was in his prime.

This may be partially true, but I also can't help but notice in the sample size of quarterbacks I chose to check out above, Dan Marino arguably has the worst playoff statistics. His team's record is also one of the worst. It would be hypocritical for me to say there is a correlation between Marino's bad statistics and the Dolphins not winning a Super Bowl, while making excuses for Peyton Manning in the same way, I realize this. So I will say Dan Marino didn't help his team make the Super Bowl as much as Peyton Manning helped his team, but both teams had other problems (like defense/special teams/etc.) on the roster neither Marino nor Manning could control.

John Elway's playoff numbers aren't that great either and he won 2 Super Bowls. Was that because he had a good defense and Terrell Davis? If you say "yes" to this then my point has been proven that a team's playoff record is not completely dependent on it's quarterback's performance, so you can't blame a quarterback solely for his team not winning playoff games.

Favre has gotten the same break. He’s won just one title and thrown away shots at a few others. But he’s so darned good slinging the ball that nobody notices.

Yeah, he has proven his entire career he is great at slinging the ball to both teams. And he plays the game like a child so we try to forget all of the negatives about him...or we used to.

Manning is the best passer anyone’s ever seen...But that shouldn’t get him off the hook in the trophy department.

That doesn't get him off the hook for not winning more Super Bowls, but Mike Celizic has to acknowledge there is more that goes into winning a Super Bowl than good quarterback play. Sometimes a quarterback who plays well doesn't win multiple Super Bowls and sometimes a quarterback who plays above average doesn't win a Super Bowl at all. There is no way we can pin the fact the Colts have only won one Super Bowl solely on Peyton Manning.

We can’t say that’s how we judge people and then choose certain players to judge by a different standard.

Teams should be judged by Super Bowl championships. Players can be measured by Super Bowl championships as well, but it needs to be said because football is a TEAM sport it seems slightly unfair to judge one player for his team's performance in the playoffs when his numbers are on par or close to par with his Hall of Fame peers for the era.

I hate to say this, but we also have to remember Manning was coached by a guy, Tony Dungy, who is a great coach, but his teams have a suspicious amount of success the year after he has left the team. Tampa Bay won a Super Bowl after he left the team and the Colts are 14-0 this year after Dungy retired. Dungy is still a great coach, but it's interesting another coach with the players Dungy coached the year before has been more successful. Should we factor this in as well?

Peyton Manning’s gotten them that far. Isn’t it about time he got them to another Super Bowl?

Yes it is. The defense and the special teams also have to play well for Manning to make another Super Bowl as well. You are an idiot if you don't factor this into why the Colts have only made one Super Bowl in Peyton Manning's career. Is Peyton Manning partially responsible for the Colts not making more Super Bowls? Probably, yes. That doesn't mean it is all his fault though or his legacy should be tarnished because of this.