FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla—For a two weeks, media from around the country and the globe have been trying to solve the riddle of Peyton Manning.
His complex line of scrimmage calls and audibles, his quick reactions when looking for receivers, pinpoint throws and his knack to never let his team lose in big games-especially over the last four seasons. Questions have been asked to teammates, coaches, and those who faced him, each without a consistent explanation as to what has led to a renaissance in the veteran's career.
To do so, he referred not to football but baseball, and a coach-pitch league that Peyton was in when he was 11-years old.
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"The coach after the game would always tell them they tied," said Manning of the move which is meant to keep up the morale of the growing athletes.
For the record, says Archie, the team that Peyton played for was subpar, and there was no fooling this young competitive athlete.
"I'd be driving him home and he'd say 'This coach must think I'm really stupid or something because we're getting beat so bad'," said Manning of his son's postgame comments. "I always thought that Peyton really never liked getting beat."
It seems that father does know best when it comes to figuring out his son, but even he had to sit back and think hard about who to root for in Super Bowl XLIV.
One one side there's the franchise which the former quarterback was apart of from 1971-1982-the New Orleans Saints. Its a city that he's still has a residence in has helped rebuild after being devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The Saints are a franchise to which he is still closely linked, serving as color commentator as well as a pre and post-game analyst at times following his retirement from pro football in 1984.
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On Wednesday, he was chosen by the team to represent them when New Orleans' offensive line was given the John Madden Most Valuable Protectors Award by league, as the honored players were unable to attend the presentation.
"I'm very proud of the Saints," said Manning of the Saints ending a four-decade long Super Bowl drought. "I've got 39 years, my family does, invested in New Orleans and I'm very proud of what they've done."
The catch is, of course, that Peyton plays for the Saints' Super Bowl XLIV opponent the Indianapolis Colts. While outsiders see it as a conflict, again father knows best.
"Like I said before, he's my son, I'll be pulling for the Colts," said Manning of where his interest lie Sunday at Sun Life Stadium.
While it may seem as if Archie is the only one who is dealing with a bit of conflicting interest, so is Peyton. Don't forget that Manning went to high school in the New Orleans area, still holds football camps in the area as well as aiding with relief efforts following the devastation of Katrina.
"I know it's kinda unique for Peyton too, because he's been involved in the recovery too, yet he's playing against them in this game," said Archie of Peyton. "So its kinda unique for our family, we're trying to enjoy the journey."
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While the do that with the blue and white for one night, much of the country might pick up their Saints gear and wear it themselves. With the sentiments of sympathy still high for the area following the hurricane four-and-a-half years ago, much of the popular sentiment has been pointed towards the Saints this week. Peyton mentioned that the sentiments will likely be against them for one night, and his father has a simple explanation why.
"A lot of people in the country we're really concerned for our city after Hurricane Katrina, we continue to have people," said Manning. "Church groups, I've seen young people in their spring breaks come to New Orleans and gut houses, rebuild houses, and that's been going on for four years now."
"Now the Saints get to the Super Bowl, and I think it's a good thing for people."