The delightfully amusing flap caused by Colts kicker(!) Mike Vanderjagt’s comments last week accusing head coach Tony Dungy and star quarterback Peyton Manning of being too soft to win a Super Bowl continues to heat up.
Manning had this to say before yesterday’s all-star exhibition: “Here we are, I’m out at my third Pro Bowl, I’m about to go in and throw a touchdown to Jerry Rice, we’re honoring the Hall of Fame, and we’re talking about our idiot kicker who got liquored up and ran his mouth off. The sad thing is, he’s a good kicker. He’s a good kicker. But he’s an idiot.”
This squabble is certainly more entertaining than, say, a post-season exhibition game of the star players who could be bothered to attend. My guess is Vanderjagt, who is indeed quite a good kicker, will be wearing another uniform next season, even though he is probably right in his assessment of the Colts situation. Manning seems to be a class act and has been a great quarterback since high school, but seems to never win the big games. (Is it a coincidence that Tennessee finally won a championship the year AFTER Manning went to the NFL? Or that the Bucs won the Super Bowl the year after Dungy was fired?)
Despite their crucial importance, though, kickers aren’t viewed by most as actual football players. They don’t get to call out their teammates–let alone their head coach–in public. (Quarterbacks are another story, as evidenced by this AP report on the 49ers coaching search odyssey.)