Let me make this clear. I like Peyton Manning.
The times I've interviewed him, he's always been very nice. Every year he's come to Kansas City's 101 Banquet, he has taken to time to come up to the after party, spending an hour or so speaking with people, even signing a few autographs.
The one time he turned me down for an interview (which happened on live television during the post game show following his Colts playoff win in January of 2004), he could not have been nicer. "Peyton, we're on live right now, may I ask you a quick question?" I asked outside the Colts team bus. "I'm sorry, but I have a couple of people I want to say hello to," was his answer. He then went right over to several Chiefs players to console them after, what he knew was a difficult playoff defeat.
I was honestly impressed.
A few years later, when he called me "that idiot" in a USA Today article, I laughed. (I had done a story on Chiefs players posing with him for a picture and getting his autograph following a Denver win over KC).
I even love his commercials. (The one where he picks on little brother Eli, while dad Archie glares at them, is one of the best TV promos I have ever seen!)
But, having said all that, this week, I hate Peyton Manning.
I fantasize about Justin Houston knocking him out of the game on the very first series, allowing the Chiefs to finally beat Denver.
I dream of sticking a microphone in his face after a Chiefs win, instead of the usual Manning victory.
I don't think this makes me a bad person. I think this makes me a typical Chiefs fan.
Whenever I write about him for our Chiefs coverage, I almost always refer to him as "the hated Peyton Manning of the hated Denver Broncos." In fact, I use the term "hated" a lot when writing about the AFC West!
This is not real hatred, it's "sports hatred." Sports hatred is good. It helps makes the games more fun. In fact, I spend almost as much times rooting against teams I hate (Baylor and New England Patriots football- Kentucky basketball) as I do rooting for teams I like.
This does not make me "sick," it makes me normal.
Especially this week.
Since coming to Denver, Peyton's a perfect 7-0 versus the Chiefs. His Broncos have captured three straight AFC West titles.
The most likable athlete on TV is the division's Darth Vader.
Remember the German who shot Tom Hanks in Saving Private Ryan? Peyton's a bigger villain.
Harry Potter fans grew to hate Lord Voldermort, just like Chiefs fans have grown to hate Archie Manning's middle son.
He embodies everything I hated about the Wicked Witch of the West and her flying monkeys.
He's like the shark in Jaws. He's a cold-blooded killer.
So, while the Broncos now win with their top-ranked defense, rather than Manning's arm, it is Peyton who stands tallest in my mind.
I still believe this Chiefs team can reach the playoffs, but to do it, they need to finally slay that witch- they need to blow up that shark.
They need to beat Peyton Manning.
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