Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Mayor of Mayberry

I have zero rooting interest in Sunday's Super Bowl.  Well that is not entirely accurate.  This year I am participating in Valerie's $100 per box Pool, which I have participated in in past years (and in which I have won and more than recouped my investment).  Thus, my rooting interest in this year's game is limited to my box in Valerie's Pool...that and hoping that the commercials do not stink. 

Whether it is a uniquely American habit, I know not, but I have long marveled at the fact that we the people of these United States - with our predilection to worship at the altar of the public figure - enjoy only one thing more than deifying those people to whose music we listen, whose films we view, and for whose sports teams we cheer.  That one thing is sharpening our knives and hacking away at our heroes at the first scent of blood in the water.  What comes up must come down, right?  In America, we not only like demolition - we thrive upon it. 

It is for that reason - and that reason alone - that I feel my empathy needle (it is very, very tiny) being moved this week ever so slightly in the direction of the Denver Broncos and their quarterback, Peyton Manning.  From the moment of his arrival in the NFL, Manning has been ubiquitous.  Far more often than not, his teams have been (at the very least) good, which has resulted in him playing a lot of post-season games.  Even more than his "in uniform" time on television is the time he comes into our living rooms hawking whatever product he is endorsing, whether Papa John's Pizza, Buick automobiles, or Nationwide Insurance.  His product pitchman image has always been a hybrid of a star athlete and Sheriff Andy Taylor.  Peyton Manning, the Mayor of Mayberry.  

The consensus among those "in the know" about all things NFL (although for my money I have known three "non-insiders" (John Hayes, Mark Obserschewen, and Tom Swales who know as much - if not more - about professional football than any TV talking head) is that Peyton Manning is shot.  Hop in the WABAC machine to the week leading up to this year's AFC Championship Game and do a Google search for everyone who predicted that Manning's Broncos would defeat Tom Brady's Patriots to advance to SB 50.  If you structure the search to eliminate all articles authored by Archie, Cooper, or Eli Manning, you might have difficulty garnering a single one.  All those who know all predicted that the Patriots would easily defeat the Broncos and Manning, with his damaged foot, damaged throwing arm, and damaged reputation would slink off into retirement.  

Hmm.   How did that work out?  

Whether the Broncos have any chance at all against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday afternoon, I would not pretend to know.  I have watched only bits and pieces of professional football the entire season.  Among those snippets however have been portions of Carolina's two playoff games.  In both games the Panthers have been dominant to the point of terrifying.  I presume that the "smart money" anticipates that they shall be as dominant against Denver this week.  

In the movie version of our life that we view from time to time in the theater of our mind, we get the happy ending.  Our sunset ride is one taken on a powerful steed over land strewn with rose pedals laid down before us by our appreciative and adoring public.  Far more often than not, however, life is not art's imitation.  When the end arrives for us, it does so in a far less beautiful and storybook fashion.  

The Mayor of Mayberry's movie is winding its way towards its conclusion.  Its ending is yet to be written.  It has been said that history is in the mind of the teller.  What story shall Peyton Manning tell.  What story indeed...


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