"Team spirit" is infectious.
We love it. That is one of the reasons we enjoy football so much. There are few things more enjoyable than watching a calm, mild-mannered individual reduced to a quivering pile of fury at what he perceives to be a blown call. Or consider the chills that run down the spine when a group of complete strangers sees that unexpected turnover and resultant touchdown. The cascade of cheers, or boos, is deafening. It is what makes football great. For this reason, I usually sit back, observe, and allow others to enjoy.
Every once and a while, I see the nonsense reach epidemic proportions. A wave of hysteria sweeps across the nation, snatching up all in its path. Today, ESPN released its power rankings stating that the Peyton Manning acquisition made the Denver Broncos deserving of an eighth place ranking.
Back in the real world, when someone develops an infection, they are given an antibiotic. It is essential for the health of the patient. For the rabid sports fan, a dose of reality from a columnist is just such an antibiotic. So, in the interests of public health, I'm going to come out and say it. Remember, this is for your own good...
HAVE YOU LOST YOUR MINDS???!!!!!!!
A reasonably good team brings in a high-priced superstar in the hopes of lifting their team to a championship. It happens almost every year. When does this ever work?
In 2011, the Philadelphia Eagles introduced us to the "Dream Team." At last check, they're still sleeping.
In 2010, the Washington Redskins were going to solve all their problems with Donovan McNabb. They are still trying to recover.
This is usually the spot where the desperate fan jumps to his feet, shaking his fist, and screams "What about the Minnesota Vikings in 2009?"
Yes. What about the Vikings?
In 2009, the Minnesota Vikings brought in Brett Favre in the hope of lifting them to a Super Bowl. I will admit that they had some success. But they never did make it to a Super Bowl. 2009 was their best year and it ended in the NFC Championship game. If you will remember, the 2010 season saw the systematic dismantling and eventual retirement of the very same Brett Favre that was brought in to lead the franchise to the promised land.
But for the sake of argument, let's say that is enough for the average fan.
Consider this. The 2009 Minnesota Vikings had the second best defense statistically by points in the league. Denver has the 19th. The Vikings had Adrian Peterson, arguably the greatest running back in the league at the time. With all due respect, do the Denver Broncos have anything close? Brett Favre was coming off a sub par season with the New York Jets. Peyton Manning will not have thrown a football professionally in a year and a half. Brett Favre was asked to merely come in and manage games, occasionally showing flashes of brilliance. Manning is expected to carry at least the offense, if not the entire team, on his back.
These are just the obvious points. What about the subtle ones?
The year before the infamous neck injury (when Manning would have been in a physical condition more closely resembling what he wants us to believe he is at now) the Indianapolis Colts hosted both the Chargers and the Chiefs. Manning threw for 244 yards, 0 touchdowns, and 1 interception against the Chiefs. He threw for 285 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions against the Chargers. Those were both home games...indoors...in controlled conditions. He is now looking at facing these teams twice each year, with both home and away games being played in the elements.
It has been suggested that Manning can play just fine in the cold. That was before the broken neck. Everyone can speculate how fully the neck injury has healed and at the end of the day that is all it is... speculation. But assuming the best case scenario, there is still the fact that the neck was broken. As anyone with a break will attest to, arthritis and joint pain connected to breaks, compound in cold weather. It may not stop him but it very well might be enough to slow him down for a half a second... maybe more. In the business of professional football, seconds kill.
These are just a few of the many complications that face this team. I am not saying they don't have a chance to be successful. However, let's be clear. It's going to take time. There are going to be bumps and bruises. There are going to be difficulties. Only after going through those growing pains do they even have a chance to be successful. If you are thinking in terms of a three-year or a five-year plan, then this move will likely be worth it.
If you are expecting to reach the top this year, prepare to be disappointed. The Denver Broncos will finish the season with fewer wins than they did last year.
I know it is a bitter pill to swallow but it is better to find this out now than later.
There are sound reasons why Tim Tebow helped the Broncos to more wins than Peyton Manning will in his first season.