"The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things." Ronald Reagan
It was a peculiar exercise in leadership, Payton Manning's Super Bowl performance. Without looking at the stats, it seems obvious he generated modest numbers. At moments when a first down might have kept an oxygen-sucking defense off the field for a few more minutes he misfired on throws (which often appeared labored) or handed the ball to a running back who made...a yard. The punter trudged onto the field, with Carolina's potent offense awaiting yet another opportunity to strike.
The Denver defense - Vonn Miller being just their most obvious star - received richly deserved accolades while the strips of confetti cannon paper were still falling. They were the stars. They seemed to relish the opportunity to make Cam Newton run for his life, to mangle the young star's dreams.
But there was a moment in the waning minutes of the game that spoke very clearly of Manning's leadership and character. The ball was changing hands again, and a Panther stopped him on the field. The Carolina player appeared animated, insistent. He had something to say and did not want to await the cacophony of cameras and microphones at the end that would sweep up Manning. By the body language, it was heartfelt praise. A young man, inspired by the old warrior's lifetime of nobleness, acknowledges a quarterback who just happened to play for the other team.