Indy’s great, but Petulant Peyton a hard act to swallow

Dec 20, 2005 2:10 AM

Is it permissible these days to dislike a major star and great player, and root against him?

With or without permission, I don’t care for Peyton Manning, never have, not when he played for Tennessee and not now with the Colts, and unless he changes his ways, I probably never will. This will not unnerve Peyton nor affect his superb passing, but it will give me something to look forward to every Sunday.

Manning annoys me, reminding me of kids I played with and against, who blamed everyone but themselves for anything that went wrong.

Manning’s shaking his head after a futile series of downs, his looks of withering disapproval and disgust when a receiver drops a pass or can’t reach one that he has overthrown, annoy me to the point of wanting to see him get sacked or hurried or intercepted, which he was with frequency last Sunday, a delightful day for anyone like me not smitten with pouting Peyton.

I think his major target, Marvin Harrison, is great, and I admire what Tony Dungy has done with the Colts. But Peyton the Petulant bugs me.

Determination is fine, and leadership is admirable, and he possesses both in large degrees, but pouting is something you are supposed to leave behind in grade school.

So it was with supreme delight that I saw his pass bounce off waiting hands and into those of the Chargers’ Quentin Jammer late last Sunday, ending Indianapolis’ winning streak at 13. The 14-0 signs disappeared quickly in the stands, the blue and white painted faces turned bluer, and Manning sat in deep depression on the bench, hoping for one more chance to stage another of his famed late last quarter rallies. The TV wizards put 13 and 1 up on the screen prematurely, with plenty of time left for Indianapolis to win.

Manning could have embarrassed them. If the Colts could have scored and retrieved possession with an onside kick in the closing seconds, they could have won it in with another Manning thriller. Manning throws so quickly, and so accurately, that he is hard to intercept. But San Diego played a hugely tough defensive game all day, right to the wire, and deserved to win.

Now Peyton and his pals travel to Seattle to meet the high-flying Seahawks, who were lucky to win last weekend but still are soaring, with 10 straight victories. If the Seahawks can duplicate the Charger’ defensive game of last Sunday, they can go to 13-2, which would be nice for the city, for owner Paul Allen, and for coach Mike Holmgren, all of whom have tried so hard.

I hope the Seahawks make Peyton shake his head in disgust again.

On other fronts, what a delight to have Americans lead an international parade for a change. Growing up, we ran everything except ice hockey, which belonged to Canada; skiing, which belonged to the Austrians and Italians and Germans and Finns in jumping; and soccer, which belonged to everyone else.

We once dominated baseball and basketball and our brand of football and tennis and boxing and track and field.

These days, our track stars can’t pass Don Catlin’s chemistry tests, our baseball stars speak Spanish and Japanese, and our basketball stars have unpronounceable names and come from Yugoslavia or South America or China or France or other exotic spots. So when Lindsey Kildow and Caroline Lalive finished one-two last weekend in France in World Cup downhill skiing, it was a cause for celebration.

They gave a special cow to Lindsey for winning, which was thoughtful if you like milk and cheese, but she’s leaving it in Europe with her friend, the injured German skier Maria Riesch.

Cowed or cowless, Lindsey is pretty and vivacious and the world’s best woman downhill skier, which is nice considering our frustrations in world sport in recent years.

In figure skating, which keeps television fully programmed, we have high hopes with a recovered Michelle Kwan and a rising Sasha Cohen.

I think I’ll root for them and let Indianapolis go its own way. I haven’t seen any of the ladies shaking their head or pouting with disgusted looks, and both are far prettier than Peyton.