America Is Peyton Place

Monday, February 05, 2007

America Is Peyton Place

I know, I know -- if you're an American, you're supposed to love Peyton Manning. Advertisers seem to think so because you can't watch a sporting event on TV without seeing at least seven commercials featuring Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning.

But the fact that Madison Avenue adores Peyton's marketing potential may be the best explanation for the highly questionable decision to name him the Super Bowl's Most Valuable Player (MVP).

How does a quarterback earn the MVP by producing a passing rating that is nearly 20 points below his regular-season average?

The only really long pass that Manning completed last night (a 53-yard touchdown pass to Reggie Wayne) was one that my 13-year-old nephew could have thrown. There was no Chicago defender within 10 yards of Wayne. Disregard that TD pass "gift" by the Chicago Bears and Manning's numbers look pretty ordinary: 186 passing yards, even less than Indy's 190 rushing yards.

The thing that makes this decision such a farce is that Manning was basically picked as the MVP before the Super Bowl even began. Consider what Sports Illustrated's Andrew Perloff wrote on his blog:
I thought before the game Peyton Manning would have to have a sub-par game for him not to win MVP. He's become such a focal point for the Colts.
Yeah, that sounds like a fair standard -- one player out of 44 starters on both teams wins the MVP award by default unless he has "a sub-par game."

Yet, even by Perloff's standard, Peyton Manning didn't deserve the MVP award. Par for Peyton during the regular season was a TD-to-interception ratio of better than 3-to-1, passing yards of 275 per game, and a passing rating of 101. In the Super Bowl, Peyton's numbers fell below each of these measures.

On the other hand, Indianapolis' Dominic Rhodes turned in an MVP performance by rushing for 113 yards, scoring one of the Colts' two offensive TDs and spearheading Indy's surprisingly robust running game.

If you really think Peyton Manning is highly talented (and he is), then it's tough to argue that he delivered an MVP performance last night.

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