If Peyton Manning was annoyed in the slightest at a Richard Sherman comment unearthed by reporters, the star Broncos quarterback didn’t show it. In his final media session before Super Bowl XLVIII. Manning addressed claims made by the Seahawks cornerback that his passes often looked like “ducks” heading into the end zone. Manning chuckled as he agreed with Sherman, but Manning’s Broncos teammates suspected Sherman might be doing Denver a favor by simply talking.
To Sherman’s credit, the story stems from a four-week-old blog post in which he praised Manning’s instincts and intelligence on the football field, ranking him as the No. 1 quarterback in the NFL for Sports Illustrated’s MMQB.com. At the end of a long paragraph of praise, Sherman took up the topic of Manning’s passes with two quick sentences.
“His arm, however, is another story. His passes will be accurate and on time, but he throws ducks,” Sherman wrote in the MMQB.com post. While it may not seem like anything worth discussing much, Sherman’s role as would-be villain of Super Bowl XLVIII sent newshounds digging into the archives. Reporters first asked Sherman if he stood by the comments on Wednesday, January 29.
Sherman didn’t dismiss the story or regret writing about Manning’s “ducks” in the first place. He rephrased his comments to suggest Manning was simply throwing the ball the way he took it from the snap. For his part, Manning seemed to enjoy taking up the subject during his last media chat on Thursday, January 30, before Sunday’s showdown with Seattle. While saying he agreed with Sherman, a spark of pride flashed through Manning’s words.
“They say he’s a smart player, and I don’t think that’s a real reach what he’s saying there,” Manning replied jovially. But he wasn’t finished. ”I do throw ducks. I’ve thrown a lot of yards and touchdown ducks, so I’m actually quite proud of it.” The Broncos’ Champ Bailey recognized Sherman’s innocent intentions but hoped it had collateral damage for the Seahawks.
“He’s throwing ducks like that and still throwing 55 touchdowns? I’ll take the ducks any day,” Bailey told the New York Daily News. Acknowledging Sherman probably spoke without ill intentions, Bailey reminded everyone that “you don’t want to tick [Manning] off. If [Sherman] did, I’m glad he did it.”
Peyton Manning’s intensity could be seen from the first quarter of the AFC Championship in which he systematically dismantled the New England Patriots defense in leading his team to a dominant win and a trip to the Super Bowl. Prior to that contest, the story centered around Tom Brady’s “big game ability” and the Patriots’ mental advantage. Manning quickly debunked that storyline.
Richard Sherman may have had nothing more on his mind than the clarification of a statement for reporters. But he — and the Seahawks as a team — might have been better off if he had said nothing at all.