Humility and Humiliation: A Tale of Two Quarterbacks

Those of us who care have seen Super Bowl XLI. Those of us who don’t, don’t want to read about it. So I’ll make this brief, and it’ll be easy to skip anyhow.

Peyton Manning did not deserve the Most Valuable Player trophy. His two running backs did. He didn’t play a bad game, but his only impressive completions came when Chicago’s defense completely blew coverages and left receivers wide open. Super Bowl MVPs need to do more than complete such passes, but Manning didn’t do much more. His backs did, and he rode them to victory. I hope he learns humility from this entire postseason, in fact, during which he threw a lot of interceptions, some of them stupid, and needed his team to get him out of trouble–not the other way around, which is what MVPs are supposed to do.

Rex Grossman and the coach who kept playing him, Lovie Smith, got humiliated. Their special teams and defense played as well as could be expected. The problem was on offense–and right behind center. No one can fumble two snaps (What is this, the preseason? Of high school football?) and throw up two sad ducks for interceptions and expect to win. No one can keep playing such a terrible quarterback and expect to win. So they didn’t win.

Lovie Smith seems to know everything about football except about quarterbacking. But that’s pretty important.

It is not clear what Rex Grossman knows about football at all. It’s incredibly tough being a pro quarterback. But it’s really not that tough to take a snap, even on a rainy day, unless you’re just out of control–and Grossman was.

Both men have a long offseason now to think and learn: about the difference between confidence and hubris, between loyalty and fanaticism, between hope and foolishness. If they do learn, they will both be the better for it. If they don’t, then their suffering, and the suffering of their team and fans, will be literally for nought.

–Which makes me wonder when to expect my own next, well-deserved dose of humiliation….