How to Be Good at Losing

Peyton Manning, quarterback for the Denver Broncos, is a man at the top of his field. His five MVP awards are a league record. He’s been named to 13 Pro Bowl teams. And in his 12 years with the Indianapolis Colts, he led them to eight division championships, two AFC championships and one Super Bowl championship, in which he was also named the MVP. This year, Manning and the Broncos had a 13-3 record and spent the season dominating opponents with the #1 offense in the league.

But on Sunday February 2, Manning and Broncos had a rough day at the office. It was the equivalent of missing the snap – I mean, the train, spilling coffee on your new suit, and accidentally saving over your big presentation with photos of your last vacation. Whether it was bad luck, insufficient preparation, an unfavorable match-up – or, most likely, some combination of the three – they came up short against the Seahawks and their #1 defense. Way short. Like, five touchdowns short.

With the career that he’s had, Manning doesn’t seem like someone who’s very familiar – or comfortable – with losing, especially losing badly. In fact, he’s notorious for his competitive spirit and has always hated to lose, as these Manning family home videos adorably illustrate.

But it seems as though he’s learned or two about dealing with defeat since his days of pick-up football in the back yard. Because even though he hasn’t had a lot of practice at it, he’s become pretty good at losing. At least according to Richard Sherman, who’s recently become notorious in his own right thanks to this rant after the NFC championship game. Sherman tweeted that “Peyton is the classiest person/player I’ve ever met” after Manning approached him after the game to check on his injured ankle.

Of course, it’s probably easier to be gracious when you’re wildly successful. Win or lose, Manning’s still a Hall of Fame quarterback and millionaire many times over – so really, it’s hard to feel too bad for the guy… But, losing with dignity and grace is still something to be admired. More importantly, it’s something we can all strive for when things don’t go right in our careers. And hey, at least when we have a bad day it’s not televised.

When was the last time you had a big career setback, and how did you handle it? Share it in the comments.

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