Thursday, March 8, 2012

Say It Ain't So, Peyton

We are witnessing the end of an era.

Even for those of us who had to have seen this coming months ago, the news of Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts going in separate directions is shocking. It’s like Los Angeles without Kobe. New York without Jeter. Baltimore without Ray Lewis. You can’t take the man out of the city without both parties losing a giant piece of their identity.
As a Houston Texans fan, I should be running through the streets in jubilation with the possibility of no longer having to face #18 twice a year, but I can’t. In the past decade as a fan of that battle red and steel blue, I’ve seen Peyton dismantle my team to the tune of a 16-2 overall record. I don’t believe in sure losses, but I have to confess that Mr. Manning has tempted me to change my philosophy on numerous occasions. He’s the one guy that I should be programmed to hate, but his work ethic and class garners nothing but my utmost respect.

Few people in the NFL could have spoken and answered questions at yesterday’s press conference with as much dignity and sincerity. In a day and age where athletes are constantly criticized for being fake and hollow-hearted, there is not a soul in America who would question the veracity of his statement:
“Nobody loves their job more than I do. Nobody loves playing quarterback more than I do. And I still wanna play. But there’s no other team I ever wanted to play for.”
My favorite Peyton story is from the 1998 NFL Draft, where the lively debate was concerning who the Colts should take with the #1 overall pick: Peyton Manning or Ryan Leaf. Yes, this really happened, and yes, it does sound incredibly similar to the Andrew Luck and RG3 debate going on now. With his selection still not guaranteed, Peyton approached team president Bill Polian and advised:
“If you pick me, I guarantee you that we will win a championship and we’ll have a great program here. If you don’t, I’ll come back and I’ll kick your ass (on the playing field).”
And Manning followed through. He did win them a championship. He did form a great program in Indianapolis.

But what am I doing? Telling old school Peyton memories? Looking back on his 14-year career? This sounds more like a eulogy than a simple reaction to a football player switching teams.

He will play for a different team for the remainder of his career. And no matter how long it might take our eyes to adjust to the sight of him in a new uniform, he will return to his winning ways. He will fulfill his 1998 promise and come back and kick the Colts’ ass on the playing field. He might even win another Super Bowl. Then he’ll retire and go straight to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Everyone understands that the show must go on, but there’s a child in each of us who just realized, for the hundredth time, that Santa Claus isn’t real. We constantly hear the cliche that “the NFL is a business,” but we do our best to forget this until the next time the bubble is burst. We want to cheer for teams that we grew up watching and fool ourselves into thinking that personnel decisions aren’t all about the Benjamins. I’m not one to criticize a team for refusing to open its wallet for another $51 million to have two franchise quarterbacks on the roster, but if anyone deserves to finish his football career in the city he built, it’s none other than Peyton Manning.

But then again, as he admitted yesterday, “I guess in life, and in sports, we all know that nothing lasts forever.”

Photo and video courtesy of Darron Cummings/AP and CBS Sports.


Great article Mok. Can't believe it's over. Just hope he doesn't go to the Jets.

I hope Daryl sees this article because it was super positive. Good stuff. I hope he goes to Miami. If Peyton's statements from last week ring true...that Reggie Wayne and him are a package...the Dophins would be a very very intriguing team.

I just hope he doesn't go to the Redskins...

Anyone see Lebron's attempt to recruit Peyton to Miami yesterday during the final minutes of the game? I hate Lebron.

Everything wrong in the world is LeBron's fault. True story.

Lebron is so sick. He started the whole Talents to South Beach thing. Miami Marlins are a brand new franchise. Now maybe Peyton Manning. That is POWER


I would love for Dallas athletes to recruit Peyton Manning right now. I would absolutely love it.

I think Houston, Miami, or KC make sense for Peyton. I just never think of Matt Schaub. I guess he's good statistically.

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