NFL

He's back! Peyton proves cynics wrong

Curtis Conway and Ryan Nece break down the Broncos’ 31-19 win over the Steelers.
Curtis Conway and Ryan Nece break down the Broncos’ 31-19 win over the Steelers.
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Jen Floyd Engel

Jen Floyd Engel, selected as the top columnist in the 2012 Associated Press Sports Editors annual contest, started working at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in 1997 and became a columnist in 2003 before joining FOXSports.com. Sports opinions? She's never short of them. And love her or hate her, she'll be just another one of the boys. Follow her on Twitter or like her on Facebook.

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Peyton Manning had been declared done only to be resurrected in a span of 60 minutes Sunday.

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Every team brought its best to the field in NFL Week 1.

And for this, blame Twitter.

The immediacy of opining on every happening, in 140 characters mind you, has sent us further down a path of overreaction. We always have been knee jerkers, especially with regards to sport. My friend and mentor, columnist Randy Galloway, christened 'Overreaction Monday' long before that phrase became cool and based solely on years of field study with Cowboy fans.

A win = Super Bowl, baby.

A loss = Fire everybody.

What all of this overreaction seems to have led to is premature evacuation. I do not know when we became a society of quitters, just sure this “I give up”-ism has pervaded sports thinking. So we declared Manning done because he was 36 and coming off of neck surgery, forgetting that this is one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game.

As I watched Manning on Sunday against Pittsburgh — hurrying up and checking down, looking like himself and ultimately leading Denver to victory — I wondered why anybody thought giving up on him was a good idea?

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It was not simply the throws, though there were a couple like the one into the end zone for the two-point conversion where you wondered how he got that in there. Nor was it only his brain, the ability to see what the defense is trying to do and adjust to their adjustment on the fly. It was more the realization that quarterbacks like Manning do not come around very often, so you do not give up on them. You do not give up on them until there is clear and definitive evidence that what once was can not be salvaged and even then you do so reluctantly.

Maybe, this is what John Elway understood.

Elway, after all, was a guy who benefitted from faith deep into his playing days, longer than most players get to prove themselves nowadays. They may not have known for sure if Elway had a Super Bowl in him. What they did know was his talent was a better maybe than most.

You draft and hope and, if smart, pray, pray that Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck or Ryan Tannehill delivers, or Donovan McNabb or Michael Vick or Tony Romo before them.

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When you have a real deal, though, you find a way to use every single available second. You show him loyalty. You do not give up even if that feels like the smarter course. There is courage in faith. There is courage in sticking it out. There is courage in digging in.

I understand the need to rebuild. I understood the draw of Luck.

What I did not understand then (and even less so now) was the willingness to give up on Manning, one of the greatest quarterbacks I have ever seen, simply because doubt had crept in through surgery and years.

You do not give up on great, especially your great.

Anybody who is banking on Manning not being able to be what we saw for years and again Sunday in Denver has not been paying attention to his career. He absolutely can be that guy this season, and for another couple of seasons.

There are no guarantees, of course. I am just not betting against him.

This was a guy who won with an undersized D, while going against the Bill Belichick juggernaut, with an idiot kicker and in Indianapolis of all places. He was their guy. He stayed with them, won for them and did so with class.

What he deserved was them not giving up on him.

RISE AND SHINE

Justin Smith and a host of others are the NFL's most underrated players of the 2012 season.

I am not suggesting everybody deserves this loyalty. By all means when the seventh-round picks show you what they are, listen. What I am suggesting is Indy screwed up.

Will Luck be Manning? Maybe. Maybe not.

It is like the old adage about the grass always being greener. Let me share my favorite quote on this subject. The grass is greener where you water it.

What Elway and Denver have done is dumped a combination of faith and running game, defense and hope into Manning. They have not given up on but rather invested in him.

Because what they know for sure what Peyton being Peyton means, and he certainly looked that on Sunday in Denver. How he played is exactly why you do not give up on a guy like him, even if doing so seems smart or necessary.

In 140 characters: Just because somebody gives up on you does not mean you are done, as Peyton Manning is likely to prove this season.

Tagged: Broncos, Colts, Peyton Manning, Andrew Luck

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