The monkey gets
around. This cursed animal currently holds residence on the shoulders
of Peyton Manning, as the best quarterback to never win a big game.
In college, it was the Florida Gators that prevented Manning and the
Tennessee Vols from playing Rocky Top in the National Championship. In
the NFL, the New England Patriots cast its spell over the Colts as the
team they couldn't beat, no matter how good Peyton Manning played.
He threw 49 touchdowns in 2004, won the AFC Central title and lost to
New England in the playoffs.
In 2005, Manning focused on winning, not stats. Only 32 TD's (2nd in
the league by the way) and leading Indy to the top seed in the AFC. In
the conference championship, the Colts trip over a Pittsburgh team that
ultimately won the Super Bowl.
This season, Manning leads Indy to another 12 win season and tops the
league in TD passes (31). And with the old nemesis New England standing
in his way in the AFC title game, Manning and the Colts come back from
a 21-3 deficit to beat the Pats and are now Super Bowl bound.
Could this be the progression that finally gets that damned monkey off
Manning's shoulder? 2nd Round in 2004, AFC Title Game in 2005 and Super
Bowl in 2006.
The stigma has hampered many an athlete for their career and for some
long after they leave the game. Others hold the title, then win the big
one and its smooth sailing from there.
John Elway was the best without a title. He finally broke through and
won two Super Bowls. Dan Marino was the best without a title...and
still is the best without a title.
Phil Mickelson was the best without a major. He won the Masters and now
hold three major championships.
So, will this be the year the monkey leaves Peyton's Place? Stay