Peyton Manning is an icon, a legend-in-the-making, a surefire first-ballot Hall of Famer. If you had the chance to get an autograph or snap a photo with him, chances are you'd take it ... even if you'd just spent three hours trying, and failing, to beat him.
On Sunday, shortly after suffering a 17-9 loss to Denver to drop them to 1-10 on the season, at least two Chiefs players turned fans in Manning's presence. Jamaal Charles, pictured at right, got an autograph (for his mother, he claimed), while Dwayne Bowe posed for a picture with the QB.
You know where this is going: people screaming that the Chiefs don't take the game seriously, that the team doesn't care about winning, that they're all about the glory rather than doing their jobs. As USA Today notes, former Chief Rich Baldinger led the charge, telling KCTV that he'd never asked an opponent for an autograph. "I don't understand it at that moment," he said. "They were smiling and laughing after the loss like that today. I just think it just goes to show what this team's about. I don't know if winning's really that important."
Here's the truth: Pro players ask their counterparts for autographs all the time. They'll usually send over clubhouse attendants and do it on the sly, not quite beaming like starstruck fans in full view of cameras, but it happens all the same. Does it mean they take winning less seriously? Well, that starts to get into levels of psychology and motivational analysis that are far beyond the grasp of people who talk (and write) about sports for a living.
Anyway, it's not like Charles and Bowe didn't do their jobs. They led the team in rushing and receiving, respectively. (In Bowe's case, that's damning with faint praise, as he only totaled 41 yards.) So cut 'em some slack ... maybe next time they'll remember to do this kind of thing behind closed doors.
And hey, it could have been worse. After all, the Dream Teams have signed autographs for their opponents while still on the court.
-Follow Jay Busbee on Twitter at @jaybusbee.-
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- American Football
- Dwayne Bowe
- Peyton Manning
- Jamaal Charles