Think back on his
life. As a preteen in New Orleans, his favorite pastime (when he wasn't playing
quarterback) was sitting next to his father, Archie, and watching reel after
reel of game film. All of his life, Manning has practiced the right way, played
the right way and studied the right way. On the stadium turf in Baltimore, all
the old habits were evident. Every step, every throw, every choice was made
because the only way he knows how to prepare is to leave absolutely nothing to
chance. As obsessive-compulsive as Manning may seem, who is the quarterback all
young quarterbacks want to model themselves after? Tom Brady, some would say.
But that's for clutch greatness, not necessarily mechanical greatness. Now that
Manning has won a championship, everything that appeared so overpracticed seems
like bricks in the wall of a well-constructed quarterback.
When Manning is
asked if he feels pressure in the big games--the ones he had been criticized
for not winning until now--he answers the same way almost every time. Which is
to say, not really.
" Chuck Noll
said, 'Pressure is something you feel only when you don't know what you are
doing,'" Manning said. "That's how I feel. I get prepared. I prepare as
hard as I possibly can. Sure you feel nervous, you feel anxious, but I don't
feel pressure because I feel that I have done everything I could to be prepared
for that game. There have been plenty of games where I have said that I wish
that I could have this throw back or I wish that I would have seen that
linebacker, and it just didn't happen. But I have never left the field saying I
could have done more to get ready for a game. That gives me peace of
This is not a
complex man. He is a driven man and a truly great football player, who, with
football justice being served, got the ring he deserves by relying on others
more than he ever has before in his career.