Peyton Manning’s words can have major implications. That’s why, when I sometimes find myself frustrated with how careful he can be, I should remember this post.
I had no beef when he took a shot at Mike Vanderjact at the Pro Bowl in 2003, calling his Colts teammates an “idiot kicker” who got “liquored up.”
I had no beef, either, with Vanderjact’s comments that sparked it, except for the part where he didn’t understand a kicker isn’t the guy to get a football team fired up, and choosing his words more carefully might have had proved far more effective and carried far fewer consequences.
Writes Eric Adelson:
"[Idiot kicker and liquored up] were famously uttered in one sentence at the Pro Bowl in 2003 by Colts quarterback Peyton Manning. You remember: Vanderjagt had gone on Canadian TV and said he was down on his Colts team because Manning and the head coach at the time, Tony Dungy, weren’t fiery leaders. 'I’m not a real big Colts fan right now, unfortunately,' Vanderjagt said. 'I just don’t see us getting better.'"
While everyone remembers the exchange, most don’t recall the two were Colts together for four more seasons.
So what happened to Vanderjagt after Bill Parcells cut him from the Dallas Cowboys in 2006?
"The shining truth is this: If you are great at your job -- and even if you’re only better-than-average -- you will get chance after chance in the NFL.
"Unless you’re Mike Vanderjagt."
He’s in hiding, working at his family pizza parlor in a remote storefront at a well-hidden Florida beach. His biggest beef is about the “liquored up” line. He’s not a drunk. Manning’s insult stuck. We haven’t, and likely won’t, hear why that’s where he chose to go. But a different insult, a two-word change, might have changed Vanderjagt’s life.
Colts fan or not, Vanderjagt hater or not, there are things you should know about him. To find out the rest, head to Adelson’s great piece here.
Does it change what you think of him?