By Julie Buehler
That old slogan, “Knowledge Is Power” has seemingly given way to “Opinion Is Power” and that was on full display this past week as the sports world readied for the Return Of Peyton Manning on Sunday Night Football (which was heard on Team 1010 KXPS).
In the week leading up to a highly anticipated showdown between a future Hall of Fame quarterback and the young stud standing tall in the shadow of his legend, many in sports media focused on Colts’ owner Jim Irsay and an interview he granted USA Today. Irsay essentially told the newspaper, that while Peyton was his quarterback, the Colts enjoyed great regular-season success, but the team was not well-balanced and therefore, failed to deliver more than 1 Super Bowl ring. The facts back that up, but we’ll get to the “inconvenience” of facts in a bit.
He pointed to 3 franchises (Patriots, Steelers and Ravens) that won multiple rings and approached the building of a team differently as a sort-of model for the new era of Colts football.
The Broncos’ head coach, John Fox, took quotes out of context, contorted them badly to mean that Peyton was to blame for not winning more than one ring, claimed Irsay should be happy with his championship and went on the offensive towards Irsay, calling his comments a “cheap shot.”
And you guessed it, cue the media circus.
As though this game didn’t provide enough compelling drama and interest, the media had to stir a pot that would have simmered immediately had one or two influential voices stepped in and offered some FACTS.
But as the great Jim Murray said, “I find most people hate to be informed. People need to be amused, shocked… or angered.” So take a moment, be one of the few who are informed on this matter, and amuse others with knowledge, shock them with understanding and anger them that you have FACTS to back up your assertions.
Fact: While Manning set NFL passing records, from his first playoff appearance in 1999 to his final in 2010, the Colts made the playoffs 11 times. They were ousted in their first game 7 times.
Fact: The year the Colts won the Super Bowl, was 2006. A gritty safety named Bob Sanders returned from injury to join the team as the playoffs began. They went from the 21st ranked total defense in the regular season to the #1 ranked total defense in the post season.
And while Irsay pointed out the Patriots were a more balanced team when they were winning Super Bowls, the fact is, in 2003 the Colts went to the AFC title game, where they lost to eventual Super Bowl champion, the New England Patriots. In that game, Tom Brady threw for 237 yards and a touchdown. While the Patriots defense sacked Manning 4 times and intercepted him 4 times. Equal parts defensive prowess and offensive efficiency.
The Patriots won one more ring the following year as Corey Dillion set a Patriots’ single-season rushing record, then they revamped their team and added Wes Welker and Randy Moss a few years later. Tom Brady became a fantasy football juggernaut and started averaging 13 more touchdowns the years he played from 2007-2012 than he did 2001-2006. He’s since lost 2 Super Bowls.
So Irsay’s assessment that balance creates a team’s best opportunity to make deep playoff runs seems to prove accurate when looking at history and facts.
But once Fox twisted his words and media outlets saw the tantalizing trail of drama, many failed to consider any facts and spouted their opinions as if they were fact.
We all have opinions and are entitled to them, nothing wrong with having an honest conversation. However, with so much media now-a-days more intent on entertaining than informing, and creating more perceived power in opinion than knowledge, it’s becoming more important than ever to be aware of the difference. As for me, I want the spectacular spectacle of football to entertain rather than some contrived soap opera. Andrew Luck was far more Bold against the Broncos pass rush and the Colts’ defensive effort more Beautiful in stopping a potent Denver offense than any day-time television could be.
Julie Buehler hosts the Coachella Valley’s most popular sports talk radio show, “Buehler’s Day Off” every day from 3-6 on 1010 KXPS, the valley’s all sports station. She’s an avid gym rat, slightly sarcastic and more likely to recite Steve Young’s career passing stats than American Idol winners. Tune in M-F 3-6 pst at www.team1010.com or watch the show on Ustream.