Après Peyton, le Déluge

Peyton Manning and replacement Kerry Collins

No matter how depressed about the world I have gotten over the past decade, there has always been one thing I could count on:Peyton Manning lining up behind center for the Indianapolis Colts on any given Sunday during the football season.  For a record-breaking nine straight seasons, Manning led his team to double digit wins. They made the playoffs year after year.

Those days may be over.

Because of slower-than-expected recovery from a neck operation, the future Hall of Fame  quarterback will miss his first start in 227 games this coming Sunday.  He may be out for several games.  Maybe he’ll be out for the entire season.  Those who are particularly pessimistic think his career could be over.  No one knows for sure.

This is earth-shaking news in the sports world.  In the history of the National Football League, Manning is second only to Brett Favre (297 straight starts) in durability.  Furthermore, he is so critical to the Colts that many think they would be only a three- or four-win team without him.

To sum up the situation, the roof has fallen in for Indianapolis.  In the words of blogger Nate Dunlevy, my one-stop source of information for all news on Manning and Colts, “This is far and away the darkest day I’ve had as a writer about the Indianapolis Colts.”

When Nate panics about the Colts, I panic.  I am also put in mind of Geatland after Beowulf is killed by the dragon.

For fifty years as king of the Geats, Beowulf has kept at bay all of the nations that have a bone to pick with his people.  Beowulf’s nephew predicts that Beowulf’s death will not go unnoticed:

Now war is looming
over our nation, soon it will be known
to Franks and Frisians, far and wide,
that the king is gone.

And further on:

So this bad blood between us and the Swedes
this vicious feud, I am convinced,
is bound to revive; they will cross our borders
and attack in force when they find out
that Beowulf is dead.

Substitute Texans, Titans and Jaguars for Franks, Frisians and Swedes and you have the situation facing the Colts. As the other teams in the American Conference South see it, it’s payback time for years of Indianapolis domination.

A great cry goes up when Beowulf’s body is being burned on the funeral pyre:

A Geat woman too sang out in grief;
with hair bound up, she unburdened herself
of her worst fears, a wild litany
of nightmare and lament: her nation invaded,
enemies on the rampage, bodies in piles,
slavery and abasement.

Enemies on the rampage.  Bodies in piles.  Slavery and abasement.  That about sums up my own fears at the moment.

Previous posts on Peyton Manning

Peyton Manning as Moby Dick?!
Bill Belichick as Professor Moriarty
What to Make of a Diminished Peyton
Manning vs. Brady, Hector vs. Achilles
Win or Lose, Turn to Beowulf
Quarterback Poems for Inspiration
Football Doggerel in Praise of the Colts
Manning as Beowulf, No Joy in Mudville
Schadenfreude and the NFL
Romanticism, Classicism and Football

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