Super-Manning’s selfless heroics aren’t just on the field.
In professional sports, most big time talents come with big time egos. Look at the recently “retired” Randy Moss. Moss may be the greatest deep threat receiver in the history of the NFL, but he would probably be the first to tell you that and has had more than his share of off-field issues. The talent is still there but since the lockout was lifted, teams that he was interested in joining have instead filled their WR voids with other controversial options. The Jets are giving Plaxico Burress a shot (pun intended) and the Patriots decided to 86 the idea of a Moss comeback and traded for 85 (Chad Ochocinco). Moss trained hard all summer and according to his agent, is in phenomenal shape. Then why retire? To be honest, Moss expected to be able to pick his destination, and it was unfathomable to him that he wasn’t wanted. His ego couldn’t take it. So instead of doing the smart thing, taking a 1 year deal for less money, proving he could be a team player and rebuilding his value; his ego decided to hang them up.
But this story is not about Moss. This story is not about any of the big
egos athletes that are holding out of camp right now (hello Chris Johnson). This story is about a star that would rather see his team shine than himself. That judges his success, not by monetary gain but instead by his ability to make those around him successful. I am talking about perhaps the man that is the top at his position in the league. Is a guaranteed first ballot hall of famer. He has a ring. He has the blood lines. But he doesn’t have the ego. I’m talking about Peyton Manning.
This is a man that I have criticized in the past. It was never a question of his talent, rarely a question of his performance but for whatever reason I could not get aboard the Manning bandwagon. But last week Manning showed me something. He did the unthinkable. He was offered a contract that would make him the highest paid player in NFL history at what was believed to be over $22 million a year, and he said no.
Don’t fret, this wasn’t because he wanted to leave the only team he has ever known in the Colts. Manning had far different rationale for turning down the deal. ”While I appreciate Jim Irsay offering to make me the highest-paid player,” Manning told The Indianapolis Star, “I told him I’d rather he save that money and keep whoever it is . . . Joe Addai, Charlie Johnson, whoever that may be.”
What a concept. Football is a team sport and Manning is sacrificing for the greater good of his team. He is supposed to be the leader, not only the Colts offense but the entire team and in part the league (as evidenced by his participation in a certain lawsuit). He really proved his merit on this one. And as such, he signed a contract that will pay him $18 million per, and ties him with Tom Brady as the leagues highest paid player. But in reality, he would have taken even less. “I told (Irsay and Polian) them my cap numbers can be as low as they want them to be in being creative with the salary cap,” said Manning.
I knocked Manning on this very site for being M.I.A. during the first hearing in the lawsuit that bared his name; but in this instance he really showed me something. The only reason he is making as much as he is, is team owner Jim Irsay. Irsay has been on record for a while as saying he wanted to make Manning the highest paid player in league history. In agreeing to a contract on par with Brady’s, that is Peyton taking the smallest amount that would be acceptable to his owner.
There are many types of leadership and Manning exemplifies most of them. He is vocal. He essentially serves as the teams offensive coordinator, calling plays from the line of scrimmage. He leads by example. He realizes the responsibility he has and he lives up to the expectations. But perhaps the most effective type of leader is a sacrificial one. Manning has now proved he is willing to sacrifice personal gains for his team, and I would look for his teammates to follow his example. This not only is a breath of fresh air from the stench created by larger-than-life egos of athletes, but will also make the Colts very dangerous in the upcoming season.
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