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The Old Manning
The greatest that ever lived maybe, won in the regular season but not playoffs, can’t beat Brady but beat all his contemporary quarterbacks, yeah yeah yeah. Make no mistake, Peyton Manning’s greatness is well earned. The former Tennessee Volunteer turned the super hype into a super career. The cerebral assassin has shredded defenses to the tune of 539 touchdowns against 251 interceptions in his 18 year career. The average NFL career lasts six years for a rookie who starts from day one on their team; Manning has tripled that.
Unfortunately for Manning he’s not in the middle of his stellar career, he’s reached his very limits. His body just can’t keep up with his mind anymore. He had come back after multiple neck surgeries to have the best season a quarterback has ever had (55 TDs 5,477 yards passing) in 2013. How many throws can Manning still fit in between two defenders or launch 50 yards into the waiting hands of his target? In his last game, he added another highlight as he became the all-time leader in passing yards. He ended the game itself with some less than desirable numbers (5-20 for 35 yards, 0 TDs 4 picks). He then was taken out the game due to a foot injury. We now find out he’s been dealing with a partially torn plantar fascia all season (you think it could be a factor in why he’s struggling so much?).
Those laser accurate darts he used to throw have turned into floating ducks. His intelligence and football instincts still makes him a starting caliber quarterback but is he still the QB that you can depend on to make awesome throws and carry his team to victory? With a stellar defense and good skill position players this could be another great chance for him to win a Super Bowl. All he needs is his body to comply with that plan.
Old man Mamba
The one who won all the time but kinda lost sometimes, greatest since MJ, wannabe MJ, too selfish shooting guard, yeah yeah yeah. One thing you can’t argue, Kobe Bryant was an absolute assassin that came into every game equipped to totally annihilate the opposition (32,617 points scored 3rd all time [25.3 ppg]). His natural basketball instincts are impeccable. He found ways to score when there didn’t seem to be an opening to the basket. Jeff Van Gundy (former NBA head coach) calls him the best bad shot maker ever. That’s the kinda tenacity he has played with in 20 seasons, all with the Lakers.
His body just can’t take the beating anymore. I’m sure he still feels like he can hoist up shots in bunches and control the scoring for his team but his production says otherwise. He’s been on the hardwood for a record 47,017 minutes. It seems those minutes are dwindling down now. Bryant himself has hinted this could be his last season. Mr. Bean will play tough and score anytime he is on the court. Can his body bring him through to the end is the question.
When talking about these two legendary figures now, the phrase “A shell of their former self” comes to mind. For every jump shot Bryant has to come down on his knees after or every throw Peyton has flung, their body takes a hit. The undefeated Father-Time has scheduled 2 bouts this season it seems. We know Bryant and Manning won’t win that battle, but maybe they can get a chance to bow out gracefully.
Turn the hour glass over and the sands of time runs out slowly but surely nobody can argue their place amongst the greats. Their exact place will always be up for debate. History is where documentation meets here say. The things history will say about these titans of sports will hopefully reflect on the times when they shined the brightest and not now when the sun has set on their careers.