In this case the cliche in question is "The Men In The Trenches Will Determine the Outcome." The AFC Championship is being framed by the national media as another in the long line of fabled contests between the 2 principals. In case you live on another planet, or only continue to read this blog with the unfounded expectation that we might say something novel or interesting about, say, Bill Deblasio's improbable ascent as liberal icon, or why West Virginians should be grateful the poison polluting their reservoirs is water soluble, you know those principals as Thomas Edward Patrick Brady, Jr. and Peyton Williams Manning. The contest, say the unwashed, uninformed, lazy, and always breathless commenteriat, will be determined by the virtue, heroism, determination, girlfriend pulchritude, and hairstyles of our Tom and your Peyton.
But these 2 immortals know better; that is why they are exemplar of excellence in their world, now and across the generations. They know that circumstances largely beyond their control will determine what happens at Sports Authority Field on Sunday. As they patiently remind us they do not play against each other. It is the mostly anonymous behemoths on either side of the ball that will shape, in ways subtle but brutal, what is possible, and what is not, what is given, what is (sometime literally) taken away. Along the line of scrimmage a series of battles will unfold, in direct, savage and relentless fashion, battles unseen and unremembered except perhaps by those who endure them, Men named Mankins, Clady, Ramirez, on one side of the ball, Ninkovich, Jones, and Williams on the other. Their intent is to control the one element that above all controls the outcome; time. Time to rest. time to think, time to plan, and above all time to throw the football when it absolutely must be thrown.
Manning and Brady will do what they do. But they will witness as much as they act.