Posted: Tuesday January 17, 2006 2:37PM; Updated: Tuesday January 17, 2006 2:37PM
Peyton Manning had another rough postseason game this past Sunday against Pittsburgh.
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The future of the NFL has been determined. Before we even finish this season or begin the next campaign, we already know what will happen, who the cameras are going to focus on. It's going to be all Manning, all the time. Eli and Peyton, Peyton and Eli, with Archie standing in the shadows watching another loss in a big game.
You've heard of the Madden Curse? Well how about the Manning Curse?
One year ago to the day, I wrote a column about how perhaps Peyton will never win the big one, and how that might just be OK. I got a lot of angry mail from Colts fans, some less literate than others. But the most interesting letter was this one, from Erik in California:
"I happen to believe that the inability to 'win the big one' extends to the entire Manning family. Think about it: The college game for which Archie is best remembered was a loss to Alabama in 1969; he never won an SEC title or the Heisman while at Ole Miss, and never played on an NFL team with a winning record (not all his fault, I know). Peyton managed to win a single SEC title while at Tennessee, but never the Heisman and he never beat Florida. At Indy, he's piled up great stats but never led the Colts to the promised land. And Eli? Well, it's still very early to suggest that this Manning 'curse' extends to him, but consider this: In 2003, Ole Miss trailed eventual national co-champ LSU 17-14 at Oxford. Ole Miss was driving, and on a key fourth down play to keep the drive alive, Eli took the snap, dropped back .. .and tripped over his own feet. Ballgame. It's a shame, because the Mannings all seem like good guys -- good guys without a win in a big game."
As Peyton and Eli pack up their lockers and head to the Manning compound to watch the Super Bowl in HD, that e-mail seems more and more prophetic. As Peter King pointed out in his No. 9 thing he thinks, Eli not only played poorly against the Panthers, he was horrible. My friend Sam, die-hard Giants supporter, was so upset that he sent me an e-mail in the game's waning moments reading "I've wasted my life." (He's doing much better now, thanks.)
Of course, Peyton continued his bumbling postseason ways with a heartbreaking loss against the Steelers on Sunday, running his career postseason record to a dismal 3-6.
With so much disappointment already behind them, the question now is which Manning will break through? Will Peyton or Eli break the curse and finally win a championship?
Eli, as the younger brother, obviously has more time to figure it out. He's surrounded by talented offensive players, has a good defense, and has a stable front office and coaching staff around him. The thing that worries me about Eli is that he just doesn't seem like he cares very much.