I consider myself a fan of Peyton Manning, but I always hedge my praise of him, because I do not know him personally – – more than once I have found myself surprised when a public figure I admire engages in some scandalous behavior, and I realize that I have yet again mistaken knowing a person’s public image with actually knowing that person.
I certainly hope Peyton matches his public image, and I have no reason to believe that he does not, but I simply do not know. Frankly, even people we know personally can surprise us or disappoint us. The nature of life is such that sometimes we even surprise or disappoint ourselves with our own behavior, in particular when we find ourselves in circumstances we have never encountered before, or are struggling with some longstanding problem we had hoped to have overcome.
But, if we are going to hold up anyone as a hero or a role model, the risk of that person failing in that role is certainly less if we actually know the individual personally.
I read the comments posted to the article cited above. I appreciate the comments of a reader identified as 3sportsfan, though a couple of other reader comments take him to task. Two aspects of 3sportsfan’s comment on this article stand out to me, the first of which relates to what I expressed above.
1. “To use anyone who we don’t personally know as an example (to elevate to one’s own children) is fraught with risk.”
2. “I was at the game. Peyton failed miserably on an important dimension and it didn’t occur on the field. It was on the sideline. There was very little emotion from him demonstrated from the beginning of the game. I saw very little exhortation, very little encouragement, very little `let’s get this done!!!’ Instead it was head down, almost a mopping pose. And that is when he was not looking at the Seattle defensive photographs with his offensive coordinator.“