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Manning at his worst when it matters most

January 19, 2006|by DAN KAUFFMAN

Can we all agree to quit calling Peyton Manning a great quarterback? Please?!

Exhibit A: Manning has never won a championship at any level. Not high school. Not college (In fact, Tennessee won the national title the year after Manning graduated). Not in the pros.

Exhibit B: Manning is 3-6 in the NFL playoffs.

Exhibit C: When the going gets tough, Manning is a TERRIBLE leader. Watch him when things get tough. Nothing's his fault. Someone else is always to blame. Watch Manning roll his eyes, shake his head, throw his hands up in the air as if to say, "My teammates are screwing it up again!"

It's bad enough when you do that on the field, for all the cameras to see. It's worse when, in your interview after the game, you say, "I'm trying to be a good teammate here. Let's just say we had some protection problems." Which is roughly the equivalent of saying, "I'm trying to be a good teammate here, and I believe throwing my linemen under the bus in no way makes me a bad teammate."

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Let's ignore that Manning himself didn't play well - in fact, in the first half Sunday, his throws were all over the place. On the surface, Manning is right. There were protection problems. But you don't publicly criticize or show up your teammates. Not ever. And especially not the guys who never get any credit, yet whose play week in and week out allows you to be the All-Pro quarterback you are.

Ninety-nine percent of NFL players get this. Manning never has, and until he realizes it's not about himself but about the team, he'll never win anything.

So, we've got Panthers-Seahawks and Steelers-Broncos in the conference championship games Sunday.

I know Pittsburgh plays better on the road than at home, but three straight road games, including back-to-back contests involving long flights, is tough for any team to overcome, and after the Steelers had to crank the emotions up last week, I just don't see them having enough left in the tank to do it again.

As for the NFC Championship ... I'm taking Carolina, because ... well, just because. Who needs a reason, anyway? How's that for great analysis? I'm picking the Panthers because I want to, so there!

Manning's "good teammate" quote wasn't even the most perplexing one I read this week.

Here's South Hagerstown boys basketball coach Dennis Seman after a 73-40 loss to Williamsport on Friday: "We just have too many people who work real hard, and don't understand basketball concepts, and I don't know how to teach them. In 13 years, I've never experienced anything like it."

Never mind the "In 13 years, I've never experienced anything like it" part, which sounds like an insult to South's players, whether it was intended to or not. The better question is this: If Seman doesn't know how to teach them, should he be the coach?




Dan Kauffman is a staff writer for The Morning Herald. His column appears every other Thursday. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 7520, or by e-mail at kauffman@herald-mail.com

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