To root for Peyton Manning or not to root for Peyton Manning, that is the question.
Prince Hamlet has nothing on several million New Englanders.
Talk about a dilemma, sort of like the New York Yankees in the 2001 postseason, after the Sept. 11 terrorist bombings. Searching deep into the ventricles of your heart for a soft spot for ... gulp! ... the enemy (of course I mean “sports” enemy).
You could take the anti-Seattle Seahawks (or anti-Richard Sherman) approach. The combination of cocky, brash and talkative usually is very easy to root against.
But this is different. This result, rooting for Manning and the Denver Broncos, has ramifications.
The Tom-Brady-Is-The-Greatest argument we’ve heard and said around here so often might not be true.
We must admit that Manning’s resume, with two Super Bowls and five MVP Awards, is comparable to Brady’s three Super Bowls and two MVPs.
An argument could be made either way without a true winner ever being declared.
Or, New Englanders could take a more mature, empathic approach, rooting for what seems to be a great young man who has overcome incredible odds and injury to return to the top.
Let’s be honest, few people thought Manning had this season — 55 TDs, 10 int., 13 wins and a Super Bowl berth — in him after having bones fused in his neck, especially at his age.
But you have to hand it to him. Manning actually had the best season of his career on a new team at age 37 and a pair of 13-3 seasons after the potentially career-ending surgery.
While we hate to admit that we enjoyed seeing the whiny-arms-in-the-air guy from several years ago, with Patriots like Rodney Harrison and Tedy Bruschi confusing and confouding the future Hall of Famer, Manning has perservered.
Maybe New England’s frustration the last few years has been taken out on Manning rather than being directed elsewhere, like toward 1 Patriots Way in Foxborough, Bob Kraft, Bill Belichick and Brady. The Patriots literally had two more Super Bowls trophies in their mitts, but several Patriots employees broke down during crunch time and the shiny trophies were dropped in Glendale, Ariz., and Indianapolis, Ind.
Maybe it’s time to stop the comparisons (I am guilty, as charged!) and how many times Brady had beaten Manning, when in fact, we know that Belichick has played an enormous part in that competition.
Maybe it’s time to do the right thing and appreciate greatness when we see it. Maybe it’s time to root for the “aw, shucks” guy who respects the game and the opposition, unlike another group from the Northwest.
Who knows, maybe Manning hoisting another Vince Lombardi trophy in New Jersey on Feb. 2 will force the issue in Foxborough.
Maybe that’s exactly what your New England Patriots, Belichick and Brady need going forward, the extra motivation to be the best.
As for Prince Hamlet’s dilemma, he eventually chose “to be,” which is akin to choosing Manning.
It must be noted that Prince Hamlet died soon after.
I’m just sayin.’