Monday, December 6, 2010

Peyton Hillis: Best Peyton (or Payton) Ever?

No, of course not. But he’s not bad.

Among Denver Broncos fans’ biggest complaints about the very recently ended Josh McDaniels era is the dismissal of running back Peyton Hillis, who in 2008 led the team’s injury-stricken running corps with 343 rushing yards. After barely touching the field in 2009, he was informed that he “didn’t fit” the Broncos’ system1 and was traded to the Cleveland Browns for a highly-touted clipboard holder and a sack of moldy jockstraps.2

We couldn’t find a picture of Brady Quinn anywhere,
but Saturday Night Live’s Colin Quinn has seen just
as much of the field for the Broncos this season, so we
figure he’s close enough.

Since then, the Broncos’ running game has enthusiastically sprinted to the bottom of the league, while Hillis has flourished for the Browns. At the beginning of 2010 training camp he was approximately 423rd on the depth chart, but thanks to a tragic photo-shoot accident, every other Cleveland running back was electrocuted, and Hillis ended up with the starting job.3 Through twelve games of the 2010 season, Hills has generally been between solid and spectacular, amassing 1,376 total yards (962 rushing, 414 receiving) and 13 touchdowns (11 rushing, 2 receiving),4 and has helped transform the perennially struggling Cleveland Browns into a team that’s actually not totally crappy all the time.

More important than the Browns’ ride to near-mediocrity, though, is Peyton Hillis’s continued rise up the short and half-distinguished list of all-time greatest Peytons.5 For your entertainment, the thoroughly researched and comprehensive list is as follows:

Greatest Paytons/Peytons of All Time
  1. Walter Payton, running back, Chicago Bears, 1975–1982
  2. Peyton Manning, quarterback, Indianapolis, 1998–
  3. Walter Payton. Yes, again. He was that good. Running the ball, to Walter Payton, was “like makin’ romance.”6
  4. Eddie Payton, kick returner, Detroit/Cleveland/Kansas City/Minnesota, 1977–1982
  5.  Peyton Hillis, Denver/Cleveland, 2008–
  6.  Leo Payton, running back, Rochester Jeffersons, 1923–1924
  7.  Jarrett Payton, running back, Tennessee, 2005
  8.  Payton Williams, defensive back, Indianapolis, 2000
  9.  Sean Payton, quarterback, Chicago (replacement player), 1987
Football enthusiasts across the nation have one question on their minds: will Peyton Hillis end his career at the top of the list?

The universal response to this question is a confident no—he remains some 19,000 total yards behind Walter Payton, and has done at least 250 fewer stupid commercials than Peyton Manning—but one thing remains clear: if the folks in the Broncos organization aren’t kicking themselves for letting Peyton Hillis go, there are plenty of folks around here who’ll be happy to do the kicking for them.

1. From what we’ve seen so far, the Broncos’ primary objections to Hillis were his tendency to fumble and his insistence on crossing the line of scrimmage. Remaining Broncos backs do not seem to have these problems.
2. I stand by the absolute truth of this statement, except the part about the jockstraps.
3. My sources inform me that I may have confused the Cleveland Browns’ training-camp results with the introduction to the John Goodman movie King Ralph. You’d be surprised how often this happens.
4. By way of comparison, the Denver Broncos—including the statue of Kyle Orton—have combined for 1,034 yards and 8 touchdowns rushing, and are averaging almost a full yard less than Hillis’s 4.5 yards per carry. Knowshon Moreno’s impressive 161-yard effort in Game 12 put the Broncos ahead of Hillis in total yards for perhaps the first time all season.
5. Also included: Paytons.
6. “The Super Bowl Shuffle,” Lennon/McCartney, 1985.

No comments:

Post a Comment