During the weeks that led up to Super Bowl XLI, much of the talk was about Colts quarterback Peyton Manning and how meaningful a Super Bowl victory would be for the nine-year veteran’s career. Many said that without winning it all, Manning would be another Dan Marino–a hugely successful star statistically who could never get his team to the NFL’s promised land.
All this chatter didn’t fall on deaf ears with the Bears, who were Manning’s opponent. In fact, as the game slipped from Chicago’s grasp during the second half, the Bears turned all their attention to Manning too.
“Not only do we accept this gut-wrenching defeat against the Colts, but we’d like to dedicate our loss to their superstar quarterback Peyton Manning,” said Bears coach Lovie Smith midway through the fourth quarter after his quarterback Rex Grossman lofted another interception in the hands of a mediocre Colts defender. “Peyton is truly a class-act and deserves this title more than we do.”
Even Grossman, whose four turnovers keyed the Bears 29-17 loss, came out in support of Manning’s victory.
“Peyton’s played great football for nine years,” said Grossman. “I hope that after nine years I’m in his position to win a championship, even if it’s as an assistant high school coach or something.”