Leadership is all about recognizing that you can’t do everything by yourself. That others are both needed and important to your success. Congratulations to John Elway for proving the model he followed as a player worked as a General Manager. Congratulations to Peyton Manning for being able to follow that great model and of course Congrats to an amazing set of defenses. I have never in my viewing (I’ve seen all 50) of Super Bowls seen two defenses that great go at each other.
Over the course of my life I have had favorite players. I root no matter where that player is, for the team that player is on. My first football hero was Bart Starr. I loved the calm way he entered every huddle and controlled the game. But as a Bears fan it hurt rooting for the Packers. My second hero was a smallish back that started off returning kickoffs in 1975. An unheralded player with that designation I still don’t really understand (athlete). I told my grandfather after I watched that first game with that young man that he was going to be something. I have read everything ever written about Walter Peyton. He was a human being of extraordinary talent. I loved watching him play. He was the most talented player I have ever seen.
A man of honor. When Walter high stepped his way into the end zone it was electrifying. I remember a game where because of injury Walter played quarterback out of the wildcat formation. I remember a game where Walter was the punter. He passed for a number of touchdowns as a running back. He was a great runner. But he was versatile, a great pass catcher. A complete player who could do anything.
For years and still Walter Peyton remains my favorite player. In 1999 we moved back to Indiana and in particular we moved to the southern Suburbs on Indianapolis. I started watching and enjoying the excellence of Peyton Manning. I can honestly say he is the most surgical quarterback I ever saw pick apart a defense. He was and is the most amazing quarterback.
How do you measure greatness? Both Walter Peyton and Peyton Manning reached the pinnacle of the all time statistical leader at their position (Emmitt Smith passed Peyton’s rushing yard total, but it took the amazing Jerry Rice to pass Walter’s all-purpose yardage record).
Personally I measure greatness both on the field and off the field. Does the addition of the human being make the player better or do they simply become a person. Greatness is a measure not only of on the field but also their impact on the world around them. So for that I applaud Peyton Manning is has achieved both.
If Peyton retires than I may have found the person I will replace Peyton with. When he was Auburn I listened to his interviews and thought he was a bit arrogant. But last night I saw Cam Newton emerge. He has amazing talent. I have listened to the stories of what he does off the field for people in North Carolina. While my conveyance of hero status on Cam probably does nothing for him, it does mean I will watch more Carolina Panthers games. Hero’s are leaders who see beyond a game to what is possible.