Why the NFL Needs Peyton Manning Even More than the Broncos Do

The stadium scene.
Jan. 17 2014 3:54 PM

The Great Brain

Why the NFL needs Peyton Manning even more than the Broncos do.

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Manning is both one of the greatest players of all time and the fantasy barricading against this encroaching reality. When Roger Goodell confidently declares that he would “absolutely” let his nonexistent son play football, he can clear his throat and point to Peyton and Eli Manning as justification for his nonexistent decision. It seemed fitting that only a month after ESPN announced that it was cutting its ties with Frontline over League of Denial (a decision rumored to have been made at the NFL’s aggressive behest), the network aired the documentary The Book of Manning, a film described by ESPN as “a father-and-son story written into the pages of football folklore.” Whatever facts unfold in Denver on Sunday, rest assured that the NFL will do its best to keep printing the legend.

Jack Hamilton is Slate’s pop critic. He is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Colorado-Boulder’s Laboratory for Race and Popular Culture.