Words by Preezy
If you consider yourself a respectable sports fan, it’s a safe bet that you’re aware that last night’s prime-time game on NBC between the Broncos and 49ers was more than just a normal match-up of two NFL teams. That fact aside, the game was also touted as the one in which Denver Bronco QB Peyton Manning would surpass Brett Favre’s NFL record of 507 career touchdown passes. With a knack for racking up multiple touchdown outings with ease and a cache of explosive offensive talent at his disposal, Manning eclipsing the record on this particular night was all but a forgone conclusion to many. And that it was.
Dazzling viewers from the outset, Peyton proceeded to swish cheese the 49ers defense with the terse focus of a man possessed. Completing all but four of his passes all night and looking like vintage Peyton, Manning–already two touchdown’s in the black before the end of the first quarter–was staring down the face of immortality and ice-grilling it with the sneer of a young O’Shea Jackson. All it took was another offensive drive or two by the Broncos before Peyton Manning broke Favre’s record with an eight-yard touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas during the second quarter. Predictably, the crowd gave Manning a standing ovation and social media bubbled over with congratulations and praise, with some even going as far as to crown him as the best quarterback of all time after completing the feat.
Finishing the game with 4 TD’s and 318 passing yards in a 42-17 trouncing of San Francisco, Manning looked as good as ever while etching Brett Favre’s name out the record books and putting Peyton on top in all his splendor. Amid all of the commotion and commentary on this historical event, for some reason, a random ass thought came to my mind while devouring my platter of hot wings: Peyton Manning is undoubtedly the NFL’s version of rap legend and supreme lyricist Nasir Jones. Let that statement marinate for a sec before we move further..got it? Good.
Dating back to his days as a highly touted high school recruit in his native Louisiana, Peyton, like Nas during his initial rise to prominence, was regarded as some sort of savior in his field. Both showed an innate ability to excel at their craft from early on and appeared to have all of the tools to be christened as possibly one of the best ever before either played a college football game or released a debut album. The pressure on both young men was immense to say the least, but both would deliver, Nas via the magnum opus Illmatic, and Peyton with one of the more accomplished college football careers in recent memory. But from that moment, things would get a little tricky.
Illmatic was a critical darling and a mild success for the rapper, but far from what anyone would deem a commercial success. Manning, on the other hand, selected by the Indianapolis Colts as the overall top pick in the ’98 NFL Draft, had a promising rookie campaign himself, showing plenty of the potential that had scouts salivating, but also threw a league high 28 interceptions and lead his Colts to a dismal 3-13 season. Their sophomore outings were far more favorable results, with Manning leading his Colts to a 13-3 record – a 10 game turn-around from the previous year – and a second overall seed in the AFC playoffs.
Esco, who came in the game illing on beats provided by the likes of DJ Premier, Pete Rock and other boom-bap enthusiasts, returned on the scene in 1996 with his It Was Written album, powered by the sonic structures of Trackmasters, Dr. Dre, and other premier boardsmen in the industry at the time. The album would sell over two million copies in the U.S. alone and propelled Nas to stardom within the blink of an eye, moving him from just a lauded street poet to a legit viable artist and one of the young kings in rap. Things were looking up for both parties and they looked to be fulfilling all of the hoopla that surrounded them early on as precocious talents. But that wouldn’t long be the case.