MIAMI -- Oh to have had Jim Sorgi hooked up to an EKG monitor or blood pressure machine when Peyton Manning first ambled off the field shaking his right thumb, a look of real concern in his eyes as the AFC Championship Game wound down to its most crucial juncture.
That's when the heart palpitations ensued and the no-sweat assignment of serving as the Indianapolis Colts' backup quarterback suddenly didn't seem quite so cushy. Talk about your worst-case scenarios.
"Everybody says it's the greatest job in the world, right?'' said the self-effacing Sorgi, mid-way through the Colts' Super Bowl media session Tuesday at Dolphin Stadium. "Yeah, it's the greatest job in the world until Peyton comes off the field and you think his thumb might be broken, and there's three minutes left in the AFC Championship Game and you're down by three to New England and you haven't taken a snap all year.
"Yeah, it's a great job until that point, and then you're like, 'Man, this could either go really good or really bad.' My job, it's not a lot of pressure every day, all day, every game. But when that moment comes, if it comes, there's going to be a lot of pressure. I'm the guy nobody wants to see play.''
Let everyone else in Miami this week fixate on Manning and his long-delayed Super Bowl quest, I'll take Sorgi -- the guy nobody wants to see play -- and the points. This is the Colts quarterback that Mr. Every Man can truly identify with. Not the near perfection of No. 18, with his never-take-a-play-off mentality and mind-numbing penchant for excellence.
I could have listened to Sorgi all day describe what it's like to be the NFL's most invisible quarterback, playing behind the omni-present Manning and waiting ever so patiently for his 15 minutes of fame.
By now we all know how the story turned out. Manning played through his sore thumb late in the comeback win over the Patriots, and he's good to go in Sunday's Super Bowl XLI against Chicago. It wasn't broken, it was bruised, thanks to him hitting the thumb on the helmet of Colts tackle Tarik Glenn. But Sorgi didn't know that when Manning came to the sideline in the fourth quarter and told him to "be ready.''
I was covering the AFC title game in Indy, and I remember keeping the binoculars focused on Sorgi right after Manning came to the sideline shaking his thumb. I couldn't have blamed the third-year reserve if he decided he needed a quick restroom break at that point. For a guy who had watched Manning take every offensive snap in all 19 games this season up to that point, it had to seem like the cruelest of potential fates.
Don Banks covers pro football for SI.com.