These are Dark Times for us Internet dwellers.
First The Academy took away our Leonardo DiCaprio memes by finally giving him an Oscar.
Then we lost our Manning memes when the old quarterback officially announced his retirement from the NFL on Monday, March 7, 2016.
Even worse: Following the Sheriff’s retirement announcement, we lost perhaps the smartest QB in NFL history.
Given the length of his 18 year professional career, a lot can be said about Manning, both good and bad—from his all-time record in passing TDs (539) to his still-standing record in rookie interceptions (28); from the “Omahas” to the Papa John’s commercials to the mysterious red triangle that colors his forehead (or rather fivehead).
However, what’s ultimately left behind by Manning’s legacy is his intelligence.
And for seeming so doofy, he made “being smart” look so damn cool.
But we know how you angry sports fans are—matter of fact we can hear you bastards right now:
- “Nuh uh, what about Joe Montana?”
- “Manning didn’t do shit in SB50!”
- “Tom Brady is SMARTER.”
- “Steve Young was BETTER.”
- “I LIKE RYAN LEAF!”…wait, what?
For the record: We’re not here to compare intellectual “dick-sizes” of everyone’s favorite quarterbacks. That’d too quickly cross into the “greatest QB of all-time” territory, which is a discussion that’s (for lack of a better word) stupid.
We’re only dick-sizing Manning’s mind—not only because it most recently revolutionized the sport of football, but because it’s a beautiful reminder of how mental brainpower can overcome physical athleticism in any sport.
And we’re not alone in this opinion.
On the day Manning retired, John Elway added:
“We always used to think that a no-huddle was a fast paced, get to the line of scrimmage and keep people off balance. Peyton revolutionized it in that, ‘You know, we’re going to get to the line of scrimmage, we’re going to take our time, I’m going to find out what you’re doing, and then I’m going to pick you apart.'”
Of course, the Twittersphere had to chime in, as well:
This was Manning’s trademark: Being smart.
Getting to the line, mentally picking apart the defense, quickly making the necessary changes, getting that First Down.
Through sheer brainpower & a deep understanding of the game, he commandeered his offense down the field, constantly assessing his weapons & weaknesses, ultimately alleviating a ton of pressure off the offensive coordinators.
And the best part: He wasn’t athletically superior to many QBs.
He wasn’t much of a running quarterback, he typically strayed from the long bombs, and he threw (in the words of Richard Sherman) “ducks.”
This rang doubly true after he underwent 4 neck surgeries in 2011. Yet, he returned to win 2012 Comeback Player of the Year and 2013 MVP, honors that served as a stronger testament to his mental drive rather than his physical prowess.
For 18 years, he attacked a physical sport with his mind and won.
If you want to draw this as a metaphor for any other sport (or your life for that matter), the concept still holds: Analyze your opponent, make an adjustment, attack. Repeat.
These cerebral elements often become the deciding-factors in who wins & who loses, who wants it hard enough, who’s willing to work hard enough, and who’s ultimately going to see it through to the end.
“There were other players who were more talented but there was no one could out-prepare me,” Manning stated in his retirement speech, “And because of that I have no regrets.”
Of course, there still lingers that big, fat, smelly elephant in the room: Manning’s HGH allegations.
Which, if true… wouldn’t that actually make Manning a complete dumbass?
It would be a huge disappointment to say the least—but we won’t speculate too much on the scandal and instead offer all you need to know at this point:
- The primary source retracted his statement. Charlie Sly, who associated Manning with HGH, recanted his story to ESPN after the report.
- Al Jazeera is sticking to its guns. The news source responsible for the allegations is not recanting its story.
- NFL investigation will continue. NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy quoted the investigation as “ongoing and comprehensive.”
Here’s what’s going against Manning’s case: He was an aging, injured athlete at the time reported in the accusation. Not only does it make sense that he’d take human growth hormone to speed his neck recovery—HGH as a recovery agent is very common in sport—but we wouldn’t bat an eye at a near-40 year old man in the NFL taking HGH to keep his body “up-to-par.”
We’d hope that Manning’s in-game smarts were exercised in how he took care of himself off-the-field. Especially when you consider the number of bona fide muscle-recovery, T-boosting supplement stacks that are legally & financially available to professional athletes (especially for Peyton Manning, the highest all-time paid NFL player). Hell, some of the best T-boosters are specifically formulated for men age 40+, and can help with the age-related loss of masculine supremacy.
Regardless of the verdict, Manning’s status as the smartest QB in NFL history would most likely still stand—at least as it pertains to his activities on the field:
- Plus, the level of mental dominance that he persistently imposed upon some of the biggest, baddest players in sport (who, let’s admit, are overwhelmingly on PEDs) reached such an intangible level of “coolness” that we can’t help but to be forever awed by his performance.
On the other hand, if the unfortunate scenario occurs where Manning does find himself slapped with a “Guilty” verdict, there’s at least one other silver lining:
More Manning memes.