As Peyton Manning searches for his new home, I can’t help but see a comparison between him and another superstar who parted ways with a team they had made a career with. No I’m not talking about Joe Naimath or Joe Montana. I’m not even talking about another football player. I’m talking about Clippers point guard Chris Paul.
Sure one is a 6’6 aging quarterback and the other is a 6’0 point guard not even at his prime, but these guys have more in common than you think.
The position of quarterback and point guard are almost identical to what they mean for their teams. Both of them are the leaders or the floor/field generals on the team. They are responsible for making other players around them better and they usually have the ball in their hands a majority of the time.
- Look up leadership in the dictionary and it will say “See Peyton Manning”. Manning takes his team onto the field like he’s going into battle. He can read any defense and pick it apart with his vision and audibles. Speaking of vision, CP3 plays like he has eyes in the back of his head. Bounce, straight, one-handed, two-handed, it doesn’t matter, his passes always get there.
- Have you ever heard the phrase “use what you have in front of you”? These two guys do. Paul has never had more than 1 or 2 other scoring options. Other than David West and Peja Stojakovic, he hasn’t had someone who could get him to the next tier in the playoffs. While Manning’s had Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne, lately he hasn’t had too many options. Yet, he’s made players such as Austin Collie a legitimate receiver in the league. Without Manning this year, Collie was nobody.
- You can always tell someone’s importance to a team when the team falls apart without them. Both Manning and Paul had that much importance on their team. For Manning, his team was always on top or close to it. With number 18 sidelined this year, the Colts went from top 5 in almost every offensive category to almost last. No other quarterback has meant that much to their team. When Tom Brady went down with a knee injury in 2009. the Patriots were still 11-5. The Colts this year were dead last in the league. The Hornets have always been a tough team with Paul. This year, they are last in the Western Conference. Although they may have lost David West, they added Chris Kaman whose averaging only four points less than West did for the Hornets last year.
- These two players both have been some of the most sought after players in their respective sports. As soon as Manning was cut, there were 12 teams looking to have his talents come to their team. For Paul, teams were chomping at the bit to trade for him. Teams such as the Lakers are still dealing with the after effects from trying to trade for CP3. The difference between them is Paul was trying to get out of New Orleans, Manning didn’t want this. The new theme in the NBA has been the creation of super teams. The Miami Heat, the New York Knicks (on paper) have all done it and one of the best point guards in the game wanted to do the same. Peyton Manning was the complete opposite. There aren’t many players in any sport who spend their entire career with the same team. It was widely assumed Manning would be one of these players. Unfortunately, with the Colts getting the chance to draft the next big quarterback Andrew Luck and a huge signing bonus owed to Manning, they ended the long-term relationship between the two.
- One of the ways people judge a player’s career is by their playoff success. Only Manning has a championship ring. While number 18 is constantly criticized for his inability to perform under the spotlights of the post-season, Paul has been nowhere close to the big show that is the NBA Finals. Even in the 07-08 season when they went 56-26, the Hornets fell flat in the playoffs and lost in the semi-finals. Manning still hasn’t done enough in the playoffs that compares to his regular season feats. But having at least one ring takes him off an infamous list that no one wants to be on (See LeBron James).
- Paul may only need one championship to catch Manning, but when it comes to individual awards, he needs a miracle. Manning has been named AP NFL MVP 4 times, 6 times AFC Offensive player of the year, Super Bowl MVP, Pro Bowl MVP, and even Best NFL Player twice at the ESPY’s. Granted Manning has a few years on Paul, it’s going to be hard for him to win many of these awards, especially 4 MVP awards. Only a handful of players including Michael Jordan (5 times) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar have done that in the NBA. I’m not saying he can’t do it, but it will be no easy task to get to Manning’s level.
These two superstars have the capability for immediate success with any team they play for. As soon as Paul went to the Clippers, that team was the destination for many free agent players including Caron Butler and Chauncey Billups. Anywhere Manning goes, players will flock there and they will have a great season. In just a short time Paul has helped the Clippers emerge from the Lakers shadow in LA. There’s no doubt that Manning will do the same.