I love Peyton Manning.
But it wasn't always that way.
When he first started out with the Colts, he reminded me a lot of what Eli has never grown out of -- being annoying. A whiner. A "you blame everyone else on the team but yourself with that awe-shucks look".
He must have heard those rumors -- that most everyone outside of Indianapolis found him immensely irritating. What proof do I have? All you need to do is look at the MasterCard commercials he did.
They were funny. He was actually allowed to talk. Ever see Eli talk in a commercial? Nope.
The commercials, they kept coming. My favorite is this one ...
They showed a more down-to-earth side of Peyton.
Then, the unbelievable happened. The guy who was touted as the greatest quarterback of all time was released by the Colts.
How could the Colts do that? Couldn't they at least give him a shot?
All of the sudden, the man who could do no wrong, was without a team.
This is when Peyton Manning went from being annoying, to being really astutely marketed, to being well-liked.
He became the underdog. He became the company man, that after 40 years of working for the auto plant, gets laid off. He was the guy who put his time in, and was hoping for something in return.
He became an American hero.
He overcame multiple neck surgeries. He overcame the naysayers.
With all of that adversity, he became the man in the MasterCard videos. It wasn't just marketing anymore. It's apparent in every interview he does. He is appreciative. He has lost that younger version of himself that felt he was owed something just for showing up. No more are the whiny looks. He's relaxed in his interviews. He can poke fun at himself. Peyton allows himself the fun of being interviewed by Ron Burgundy. He can say what is on his mind ... and it's charming.
I love this clip.
Isn't that what you would want to do after having to play the Chargers? I know I wanted a beer every time they showed crybaby Philip Rivers on the sideline. Tangent, my favorite punk-ass moment of Philip Rivers was when he threw his coat over his own head and started muttering to himself about the Chargers impending loss. This man has 6 kids. How about being a role model?
Back to Peyton ... his latest interview continues the trend. When a female journalist asks Peyton why he likes "Omaha" so much (in reference to why he calls that out when calling plays at the line of scrimmage), he is nothing but charming in his response.
Peyton Manning, you are one charming man. Good luck in the playoffs. I hope you get your second Super Bowl ring. You deserve it.
Madeline Fresco is a novelist who lives in San Francisco. She is the author of CROSSED THE LINE, available for Kindle at Amazon.com, for Nook at Barnes & Noble, and as an ePub at other eBook retailers. You can also listen to her novel as a free, serialized audiobook at madelinefresco.com.