Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning is a deceptively funny guy. Underneath the mega-serious football genius facade is a professional-grade goofball. If you’ve seen him on Saturday Night Live or an ESPN commercial, you understand. Spending the offseason recovering from a 43-8 Super Bowl loss to the Seattle Seahawks ain’t nothing funny. Manning and all of his teammates have been focused on revenge for months. Levity has not been on their minds. Things have been serious around Broncos camp.
A 21-16 victory in a flag-littered preseason game might take a tiny bit of sting out of it, but I think Manning missed a big comic opportunity to tickle the gorilla on his back.
As Manning was lining up for the first snap of the game Thursday, I flashed back to when the 12th Man made so much noise in New Jersey that they scrambled Denver’s signals, leading to a muffed snap and a safety to start the game. Look up the NFL Films “Safety First” audio from the Super Bowl. It was unequivocally crowd noise that caused the miscommunication.
So I thought to myself: What better time to shake off that Super Bowl funk than right there in front of home fans in a preseason game? Manning should have made some classic Peyton hand gestures, said “Tuscaloosa” several times, waggled his ears and let the snap sail over his head through the uprights.
Everyone would have a good laugh. On the sidelines he could tell a reporter: “We’ve been working real hard. I thought we needed some comic relief. It’s just the preseason.”
We’d have never forgotten it. Denver would hit the rest of the season loose and united. Instead, he handed it to Ronnie Hillman for a one-yard gain. Was that any fun?
Denver, keep being that team known for laser-sharp focus and tireless preparation. Seattle will keep being that noisy, Skittle throwing bunch occasionally referred to as thugs. I can’t wait for Sept. 21 in Seattle.