Seahawks 48 – Broncos 8, and with that, the record-breaking Most Valuable Player (MVP) season of Peyton Manning was over in an epic Super Bowl loss that Manning himself termed “not an easy pill to swallow.”
Without question, the outstanding Seahawks’ defense lead by Super Bowl MVP Linebacker Malcolm Smith, whose interception of a Manning pass resulted in a crushing 69 yard touchdown, provided times of great challenge and controversy for the regular season MVP of the National Football League (NFL).
However, it is in this moment of defeat, for a record-setting quarterback, from a family of football royalty, with millions in the bank, and millions more in endorsements, that we see the ultimate measure of a man.
Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports reported that Manning faced a throng of cameras and microphones to explain to the football world how his team lost and his part in it. He was walking back to the locker room, surrounded by police and stray, media when he was approached by Steve Lopez, a 25 year-old beer vendor from the Bronx. Lopez said in a very respectful voice, “Mr. Manning, could I please get an autograph?” Manning, in an equal respectful voice said, “Not now, but when I come back this way I will.”
This exchange between Manning and Lopez, as Wetzel calls it, represented the opposite ends of the NFL food chain, the megastar multimillionaire and a guy hawking Bud Lights in the stands. This exchange tells us all we need to know about the ultimate measure of Payton Manning. At a moment, when the bright lights were off and his frustration from a complete defeat was at its highest, Manning could have been dismissive to Lopez, but he was not.
Theodore Roosevelt reminds us, “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. “
God wants us out on the field, using our talents and skills and exercising our faith. For without works our faith is dead (James2:14-26, KJV). While the measure of Payton Manning, the football player, came up short on the Super Bowl field, the ultimate measure of Payton Manning as a man, came up big as he emerged from the pain and hurt of the Denver locker room to give an autograph to Steve Lopez as he said he would.