On Sunday night, Peyton Manning passed Brett Favre and set the record for most all-time touchdown passes in the NFL, with 509, and I couldn’t help but think my post needed to be some sort of Manning tribute. I mean, this guy has been unbelievable. Look at his stats: in the 16 seasons in which he has played, he has 509 touchdowns, over 66 thousand yards, a completion percentage of 65.5 and an average quarterback rating of 97.5. The guy is a first ballot hall of famer, and he’s still going strong. The Broncos have the best chance to win the Super Bowl this season, according to Vegas, and by the time it’s all said and done, Peyton may have more records to add to his belt. As the current face of America’s signature sport, it’s time to take a look at Peyton and his role in America’s new pastime.
In 1868, in his work titled British Sports and Pastimes, Anthony Trollope looks at several sports that he claims are British pastimes. He calls them “…sports which are essentially dear to the English nature, and which are at in the present day so strongly in the vogue of England as to have a manifest effect on the lives and characters off Englishmen” (Trollope 1). If you consider this the definition of a national sport or pastime, then I think it’s safe to say football is the new national sport in the USA. For years and years, baseball was America’s pastime. Everyone knows we love baseball, hotdogs, apple pie, and Chevrolet (twice!). But as America becomes more about instant gratification and shorter attention spans, we have marked football as our newest national pastime. People just don’t have the patience to sit through a 3 hour long baseball game anymore. In his book, Trollope went through a series of sports- horseracing, hunting, fishing, etc- and described why they were British national pastimes. He goes through in each sport and talks about why the Englishmen loved them. Once common theme Trollope has when discussing each sport is citing a specific example of a star in that sport. For horse racing, it was Godolphin Arabian, the famous horse. In hunting, he mentions Captain Ross and Lord Huntingfield. Every sport has icons that are recognizable, that make the sport more fun to watch, that transcend history and change the sport to look like an art. Peyton Manning is one of those American football icons.
America has always been enamored with Peyton Manning. He’s a small town kid with an endearing Southern accent, and from his early days at Tennessee to his crowd pleasing, hilarious commercials, Peyton always has played his cards right. In an age where it seems like every day a different football player is getting in trouble with the law, Peyton never has. He is the definition of class. After sitting out a year due to a neck injury and then being cut by the Colts, what could have been a messy break-up turned out to be very civil. And not only is he such an amazing character off the field; talk about his on the field production and he has to be in every conversation of best quarterback all time. If you want my two cents, I think he is the greatest, and a Super Bowl win this year would only cement his legacy and firmly plant him in that number one spot.
Had Anthony Trollope wanted to try his luck with American pastimes, we know he would definitely have written about baseball in football. In the baseball chapter, he would have discussed Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Willy Mays, and Mickey Mantle, along with more modern day legends like Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera. In the football section, there would have been mention of Joe Montana, Jim Brown, and the great Jonny Unitas. And when Trollope was to start talking about the modern game, the first name he would have mentioned would have been that of Peyton Manning. Manning transcends the sport, is a face and name we all know, and even at the age of 38, he is still setting records. Peyton Manning is an American sports icon, and the greatest player to ever play our new national pastime.