A piece in Slate tackles the question of why people hate and root against Colts QB Peyton Manning. And there's no question that a lot of people, from Bill Simmons on down, dislike the guy.
But put me down as someone who likes him both as a quarterback and person and will be rooting for him to win on Sunday.
So he hasn't played all that well in the playoffs. There's plenty of players who fit that description or did fit it until they eventually won. Like John Elway, he's been labelled him a failure and a playoff-choker, but Elway put all that to rest with two Super Bowls at the end of his career.
Manning has had the misfortune of running into the Belichek/Brady and buzzsaw and the fact that Patriots CB's are generally allowed to commit aggravated mayhem against opposing wide receivers, including Marvin Harrison, the Philly native who would overcome his own history of playoff futility with a big game Sunday.
So Manning's a dork. I like that. I relate to that.
Yes, he's in too many commercials right now. But the one for American Express, where he's encouraging the working stiffs, is pretty good, particularly the part where Manning tells the errant paper boy he's still got the best arm in the neighborhood and then ducks his head down towards his coffee mug wearing a maniacal smirk.
I disagree utterly with Matt Taibbi's take on Manning, as linked to in the Slate piece, but he does nail the problem of Manning's nose when he refers to #18's "weirdly smushed centurion-noseplate face." Yes, that's it!
Also, though I've lightened up on Boomer Esiason a bit recently, I agree with Taibbi when he says Esiason "surely believes Saddam had weapons of mass destruction."
UPDATE: Also, Manning's made fun of for not being macho enough and being sort of a perceived outsider when it comes to the Colts locker room. Well, shit. I know I wouldn't feel comfortable in an NFL locker room, surrounded by those gargantuans (I'm going to use that as a noun.) It's like that ad campaign says, "You wouldn't make it in pro football." So I identify with that part of the Manning equation as well.