It is funny how someone that you don't know personally can weave their way into your heart. I know that I am not the only one thinking this when it comes to the Indianapolis Colt's now ex-quarterback, Peyton Manning. He was our guy.
It is so hard knowing that he has to leave our team. The fact that he won't be the man leading the Colts onto the field this next season seems very unreal. It can't be, but it is. He has been here for 14 years. Because of Peyton, Indianapolis has a Superbowl win under their belts and a state of the art football stadium, Lucas Oil Stadium. Indianapolis also has 14 years of memories that include a man that we can be proud of.
From a record of 3-13, they rose from the ashes like a phoenix and rebuilt and recreated a winning football franchise. A franchise that could be respected. There were top notch coaches that also exuded the same type of respect and codes of conduct that Peyton did. Little, if ever, did you hear about a Colts player getting in to trouble. It simply wasn't tolerated by anyone.
Players can get reputations, both good and bad. They can be the hard hitter, the trash talker, the guy with the long locks of hair, the Jesus spouter, the druggie, the one that is always injured. Peyton was the good guy, the leader, the man with class. He has pure passion for the game. He always wanted to be in there and get the job done. I would joke to my husband how you would rarely see him smile during a game. Even when the Colts are up and they were kicking butt and taking names, Peyton was still serious, centered, focused. He knows that he has a job to do. It is this face that I will remember and continue to watch, no matter where he ends up.
Peyton's giving spirit was always seen on and off the field. As cameras moved to him on the sidelines, he was either looking back at plays and figuring out what to do, or he was talking with other players. He was discussing, encouraging, coaching. What a true leader! Off the field he always gave back to his fans and the city. He never was too busy to shake a hand or sign an autograph.
Some of you may not know that we have a children's hospital named after Peyton. The Peyton Manning and St. Vincent Children's Hospital in Indianapolis helps to serve sick and injured children and their families. They said this about Peyton:
"We are fortunate to partner with a selfless individual who has given his time and resources off the field for the betterment of children and our overall community," said Vincent C. Caponi, CEO of St.Vincent Health.
It sums Peyton up...selfless. Selfless on the field and selfless off it as well. You can read the rest of the article via the link to see how he has helped just the children in our community.
Not only did Peyton makes us proud, but he made us laugh over and over. Personally, it was sometimes hard to believe that the same guy that barely smiled in the sidelines, could make the country laugh. He was in numerous commercials and SNL skits. Even this year, when he wasn't playing, he was able to make a joke on his own account. There was the "Manning Bowl," his commercials with Justin Timberlake, and of course the Mastercard commercials.
I really could go on and on about him. I am not an Indianapolis native, no matter, he made his way into my heart. I will admit it, I shed tears as I sat and watched the press conference. I know I am not the only one who did either. Most of us never even got the opportunity to meet Peyton. We knew him from sitting on the sidelines or watching from our couch. We knew it when we ourselves had to take our child to the hospital that bears his name. We know him from the media that had nothing but good things to say about him. J.C. Watts said this, "Character is doing the right thing when nobody's looking. There are too many people who think that the only thing that's right is to get by, and the only thing that's wrong is to get caught." Peyton seemed to do the right thing no matter who was looking, and more importantly, when no one was.
It is a sad day for Indianapolis and for Colts fans everywhere. We know that his football career is not over, and we will continue to cheer him on and support him, wherever he ends up. Most of us understand that it was what had to happen. We own his jerseys and will continue to wear them because he will always be a Colt to us. We can only be proud in knowing that he is forever a Colt and that no matter what team he ends up with, we are sending them a giver and a true leader.