Super Bowl in Review: Why Do You Hate Peyton Manning (or, Failing That, Lady Gaga)?

Peyton Manning

Dan Marino once walked out of a postgame press conference in disgust, or so I recall. He apologized some time later.

The Steelers of the 1970s popularized steroid use among NFL players, or so I’ve heard. Only Terry Bradshaw, in recent memory, has come close to owning up to it.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, my opinions of both Cam Newton and Peyton Manning are completely untarnished by Super Bowl 50.

But hey, good effort, social media.

Nice try!


Why do people hate Cam Newton for “dabbing?” Don’t get me wrong–I put myself squarely in the grumpy-old-man camp that says football players over-celebrate these days. But Cam Newton’s celebrations are quite pedestrian compared to the crap I’ve seen other players pull (for those of a younger generation who remain skeptical, look up “Deion Sanders” on YouTube sometime).

I would be dishonest if I didn’t say I got a twinge of evil watching him reach the Super Bowl. When I hear the name Cam Newton, I still think of his old man shopping him around like Shelley Duffy’s old jewelry, and of the NCAA’s laughably convenient punishment. But I can respect Newton’s style of play, and he seems to present himself well as a people’s player.

In other words, if your idea of coming after Cam Newton is that he celebrates too much, then, I hate to disillusion you, but you’ve got bigger problems than Cam Newton.

More importantly, why do people hate Peyton Manning? I was at a Super Bowl party and spent much of the night within earshot of a guest (chiefly a Steeler fan, if you want full disclosure) who absolutely, positively could not stand the thought of Peyton Manning going out on top.

Man, I really should to introduce her to my one uncle someday…

Okay, so the in-our-face commercials for insurance and pizza have gotten a little old. But there’s nothing ostentatious about Peyton himself. He’s never struck me as a prima donna. If anything, the things he said about the Steelers after that Divisional Playoff game represented the way a team leader is supposed to act after a playoff game, result aside (cough, cough, Pacman, cough cough…). Even without a second Super Bowl victory, I would consider Peyton Manning a pretty good example of a superstar who has consistently lived up to his own hype–and hasn’t been a dick about it.

We just don’t know enough yet about that HGH report to treat it like anything more than a footnote in history, just like whatever the hell that was Bradshaw took for his elbow. I prefer to remember Peyton Manning not just for perhaps the best David Letterman tribute I’ve ever seen in print, but also for the time he spoke at a leadership conference at UC, and how he commanded the capacity audience at the Tangeman student union building that night. He spoke about preparation and about the importance of believing in what makes you you. He cracked jokes, including some about his own commercial presence, told college anecdotes and did a lengthy Q&A–and he wasn’t too busy for a quick word with our campus cable news program, either.

Don’t worry, Facebook, I could laugh at his distinctive forehead if I really wanted to. But when you use your powers for more good than evil, I’m inclined to let it slide.

Sure, it might have been a little tough for Pittsburghers to watch Manning celebrate knowing how beatable the Broncos looked just a few weeks ago, even without the Steelers fielding a healthy team. But they went to bed knowing an important truth of every postseason tournament in every sport:

There’s no shame in losing to the eventual champs.

Oh, by the way…

  • Why do people hate Lady Gaga, or any celebrity who tries, in good faith, to sing the National Anthem at the Super Bowl? One of my all-time pet peeves is when people complain about the Anthem, the most over-criticized part of any sporting event. At the same Super Bowl party, I heard someone ragging not just on her singing, but on her outfit. First of all, a friendly reminder: It’s Lady Gaga. Just a hunch: there are plenty worse things she could have worn. Second of all, I had no problem with her rendition. I’ve had no problem with many celebrity renditions of the National Anthem that have been scoffed at. I do resent artists who don’t show enough respect to what the song stands for and subliminally make it all about them, such as the urban legend of B.E. Taylor’s eight-minute Anthem. I don’t resent artists who merely entitle themselves to sing the Anthem with their own conviction. The National Anthem is music, which is art, which is open to interpretation. I love my country, but I would get tired of hearing the Anthem before sporting events if it always sounded the same. If the singer is just being passionate about the music, then what’s the big deal?
  • Speaking of music, apparently Jonathan Stewart didn’t think Grease Live! was Millennial bullshit:
  • Leave it to a former Steeler, Jerricho Cotchery, to give us another prime example of how the NFL, not unlike the NHL, does not know its own rules:
  • The halftime show didn’t suck. Coldplay played the hits. So did Bruno Mars. Halftime shows never really blow my skirt up the way they’re meant to–count me among the sheep who were into Left Shark, anyway–but at least this one, even if you thought it was merely satisfactory, was more satisfactory than the game itself. And another friendly reminder: the only other Super Bowl appearance by the Carolina Panthers coincided with the game-changing Janet Jackson “wardrobe malfunction.” So, hey, progress. Funny how nobody complained when Britney Spears ripped her own clothes off on the NFL’s dime, but I digress.
  • If you came here for serious analysis, I’ll humor you, briefly, like so: I hate the cliche “Good teams make their own luck.” Any team that’s ever won anything knows even championship teams still need certain things to break their way at just the right times, like Touissant’s fumble or Gostkowski’s missed extra point. Denver came by its success honestly, but its run of good postseason karma definitely continued in this game. Carolina just didn’t play well at all. Cap tip to Wade Phillips’ defense, but it also pays to catch the other guy on an off day.
  • Since I didn’t have a dog–er, cat–in this fight (or a horse in this race, as long as we’re making bad puns of team mascots), it is worth nothing I was disappointed by not seeing the one thing I watched the Super Bowl to see: a Ghostbusters trailer. Sorry, Paul Feig, but for your straight adult male moviegoers, a few stills of nerdy Hemsworth just aren’t enough.

Although that is a very distinguished look for him…

(Featured image courtesy of the Associated Press.)

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