This may sound strange but the one thing that I think of every time I hear about the Peyton Manning story is Mohammad Saeed al-Sahhaf.
Remember the spokesman for Saddam Hussein’s regime who, in the early days of the Iraq war (the one this century, to be clear), used to walk out and stand in front of a smoking pile of rubble and cheering locals to tell the world that everything was fine, that Saddam was in control and that the Iraqi forces were dominating the invading forces despite all evidence to the contrary?
It almost feels like Manning has hired al-Sahhaf to manage his public relations.
While the ultimate outcome of the Peyton Manning sweepstakes will be one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time donning a strange uniform and taking the field for some new team, to me that is the less interesting component of this only-in-America-in-2012 story. Whether a 35-year old quarterback coming off multiple neck surgeries is successful in his comeback is almost an afterthought.
The real story is how one man could spawn so many different stories at the same time.
I can’t remember an event in which so many people reported so many conflicting things at the same time.
Twitter is a wonderful thing. I was late to the Twitter party but dove in with both feet to the point, that even while I do my real job all day, I typically leave Twitter up in the background and check in every 20-30 minutes to get caught up on all of my hand-picked news of the moment.
What Twitter accomplishes in immediacy and self-selected information delivery it fails in equal portions of consistency and veracity. Follow the right combination of people and you are destined to get different if not downright conflicting information on any major news item.
No more so has this been true than in the Manning Sweepstakes. On any given day, my timeline has told me that there is an 80% probability Manning will be signing with Team A. This is naturally reported immediately above another item that says Manning has committed to Team B and an announcement is imminent.
In the last week, I have been guaranteed that Peyton was moments away from signing with the Broncos, Cardinals and Titans. Yet, he still hasn’t signed with any of them.
<quick refresh of Twitter to confirm he hasn’t signed while typing this>
Nope, still no announcement.
Whether Manning has somehow built a machine to feed misinformation to different groups like Satan feeding doughnuts to Homer or this is all just wishful thinking by parties invested in each team, this aspect of the Manning chase fascinates me.
Is Peyton telling a reporter in Tennessee that the Titans are a lock in one room while his dad calls a reporter in Denver and tells them Peyton is joining the Broncos?
Are team officials leaking baseless information to reporters in the hopes of using public pressure to sway Manning to his chosen team?
Are reporters making up or twisting information in a desperate need for attention from being the guy breaking something new in this over-reported, over-indulged story?
I don’t know, but no matter which of these is the answer, someone needs to answer another question for me.
What is the value of throwing out stories that have no basis in reality? While it is easier today to throw out information, it is also easier to immediately refute it. Basically, all of these people are just creating noise that obfuscates real information.
In the end, all they do is discredit themselves as the Boy that Cried Agreement. In the future will I believe anything that they report? Not without a pause.
In a quest for false notoriety by being the first to break news, they are ultimately eroding any credibility they have built in their careers until they are just marginally more credible than Skip Bayless. Or Fox News.
Though, if Manning does sign with the Montreal Alouettes of the CFL as I jokingly tweeted the other day I will look like a genius.
Do I care where Manning ends up? Of course. Especially if…
<WARNING: Blatant homerism dead ahead>
…he comes to Denver, the most logical destination for him.
No other team he is looking at made it to the Divisional playoffs last year with arguably the worst quarterback in the league. He could join one of the NFL’s best running games, a solid offensive line, a young, promising receiving corps and a defense on the verge of joining the top echelon of the league.
Or, he could return to his college home state of Tennessee and hope Kenny Britt stays healthy and out of jail so he has someone to throw to while getting an up close and personal seat for Chris Johnson’s inevitable slide into Clinton Portis-esque irrelevancy.
That is much better than coming to Denver, leading a team to a Super Bowl and becoming a legend in a 3rd state.
But, again that is all conjecture. Baseless, conjecture based on my biases and hopes.
Which makes it exactly like 90% of the other reporting happening right now.