Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Peyton and Jack: A Couple of Heroic Letdowns?

It's crucial to note that I initially conjured the clever idea to compare the strengths of two of television's greatest and most powerful figures, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning and fictional Lost hero and heartthrob Dr. Jack Shephard. The much-anticipated premiere of Lost's final season was this last Tuesday and the Super Bowl was this past Sunday. A pair of television firecrackers stuffed into the same week? Count me the fuck in.

There was one problem, though. Everyone (myself included) thought the Colts couldn't lose. The former mild-mannered Colts coach, Tony Dungy, went as far as to say that "[Peyton's] going to have those rings Sunday night. I don't think it's going to be close." Guess what, Tony? Peyton threw maybe the most crucial interception in Super Bowl history, thus sealing the game for the upstart New Orleans Saints. Final score: New Orleans 31 and the Indianapolis Colts 17

Now, I'll forever be near the front of the Peyton Manning fanboy line. Those who know me well have undoubtedly heard me say, "Best quarterback you've ever seen in your life" at least a couple of times when referring to Peyton. However, when the game's big and the pressure's on, Peyton has had an incessant and uncanny knack for crippling letdowns.

Let me take this moment to address Justin Bragg specifically. You see, Justin's a hater and doesn't fully recognize the brilliance and innovation of Peyton Manning. He was privileged to be raised a 49ers fan who consequently basked in the good fortune of stellar teams with a great quarterback. As a bitter lifelong Bengals fan, I obviously think Justin's an ass.

Anyway, he repeatedly refuses to acknowledge that Manning single-handedly carried a Colts team on his back for seven years, until they were able to concoct some semblance of a defense. He's afraid that Manning will surpass Montana or Young, even though we all know he's already leaps and bounds better than Young ever was and is more than on the heels of Montana.

Listen, Justin, I'm only having a slight lapse in faith right now. My acknowledgment of Manning's imperfections should not be taken as literal defamation. It's more about me being upset that the Super Bowl ruined a perfectly brilliant juxtaposition of two of the nation's most heroic characters

Needless to say, the second half of the Super Bowl was a bit of a chore to endure (primarily because I was forced to scarf down my own words). The Colts took the game on in a stiff-like, stuffy manner while the Saints exuded passion and guts. I was left with nothing to cheer for but a stomach full of beer, chili dip, and pizza. The holiday was over, and I had failed at another week of football. Good thing I get to type this because I don't know how I would ever even mouth the words, "Peyton let me down."

Therefore, I've elected to change gears and focus instead on the few weaknesses shared between Peyton Manning and Lost's primary protagonist, Jack Shephard. If you're unfamiliar with Lost, well then you've missed out on five full seasons of riveting mystery, meticulous character development, love triangles, general creepiness, an absurd amount of conjecture, fantastical settings, and time travel (that's about as general as I can make it). It's a brilliant television series and will undoubtedly go down as one of the most intriguing of all time. I urge you to get into it.

Unlike many other Lost connoisseurs, I like Jack's character, and while we're at it, I even like Kate a little too (so suck on that). Maybe I'll get hated on because Jack can be such a goddamn polarizing character. But when it's all said and done, he is crucial to so many plot lines that I feel like I know him better than anyone on the show. His stubbornness and/or intelligence never surprise me, his actions are almost always altruistic, and he's the obvious leader of the Oceanic flight's passengers, without question. Sounds pretty similar to Manning's roles (quarterback, offensive coordinator, captain, generally nice guy).

Like Peyton Manning, though, he's obsessive and a notorious over-thinker. He rarely seems satisfied with a result and has a tendency to go on benders, like the drunken pill-popping rampages he embarked on following the Oceanic Six's return to Los Angeles from the island ("We have to go baaaack, Kate! We have to go baaaack"). Jack often tries to do too much, pushing himself to the brink of absolute exhaustion. As a spinal surgeon, the fact that he thinks "nothing is irreversible" (an obvious omen in season six) is so detrimental to his psyche, causing him to fall apart with each whiff at perfection. The best way to control Jack is by not allowing him to be a factor. For instance, one of his lowest and most helpless points in the series (not eating, making maniacal escape attempts) occurred when he was caught by the Others and locked in the aquarium. He had no control.

Similarly, the Saints did the wisest thing possible during the Super Bowl. They didn't allow Peyton Manning to beat them. Instead of trying to defend him, they kept him off the field. The onside kick to open the second half is a prime example of the outrageously loony balls Saints' coach Sean Payton showed during the game. In any other situation, that call is a fucking abomination, but because it was Peyton Manning who was sitting on the sideline plotting an inevitable touchdown drive, the call bordered on brilliance. Peyton barely existed in the second half, and it showed. He lost control of the game and spiraled into oblivion, which was painfully evident with the two interceptions he almost threw right before the heart-wrenching, pull-your-hair-out pick six.

Where's the compromise? Often, I feel like it's either all or nothing from each one of these "characters" (while Jack Shephard is an obvious fictional character and Manning is an obvious real person, the fact that I've never met Peyton and the fact that he is often beheld as a little more-than-human quarterback-wise allows me to view him as fictitious, in a sense. Oh, and it also helps me perpetuate this comparison). Plainly stated, I'm sticking to my guns. Despite their weaknesses, I will forever remain an avid Peyton Manning fan and always loyal to Jack Shepard. I'd rather put my trust in an obsessive, over-analyzer than a schitzy, nutjob of a character with very few redeeming qualities (i.e. Brett Favre or Hurley).

So, I'll see you next season, Peyton, and I'll see you next episode, Jack. And I'll undoubtedly be in your corner, rooting away.


Emily said...

Kate is annoying. Jack looks like Zach Colina. Am I right? Am I?

I skipped over everything else about football but just wanted to remind you that I love LOST.

edwardallen said...

Woah, man, you gotta include a SPOILER ALERT when you're going to post details like that...

...I had no idea that the Saints won. It's still on my Tivo to watch. Thanks alot, man.

(btw - LOST, season 1 is sitting next to my tv/dvd player. it may or may not ever be viewed.)

(btw again - i like the aside directed to me in italics. nice touch.)

(btw one more time - Joe Montana is the best. go back and watch Super Bowl XVI, XIX, XXIII, or XXIV (you remember a couple of those - right?))