“It was a long, emotional flight… now the sun is trying to rise.”
That was the message Colts’ owner Jim Irsay tweeted at 6:37 this morning, the day he released quarterback Peyton Manning from his 14 season tenure in blue and white.
It was a long time coming, but reality is always the mirror you must face in order to move on. For me it’s tough, as Peyton Manning is very the reason I started watching football. If you haven’t noticed by my often questionable picks, I like the underdogs. And not to say the Colts are underdogs by any means in the NFL, but at one point in time when I was just a teenager they were.
In the early 2000’s, the New England Patriots held the good luck charm. QB Tom Brady and his crew had everything the Colts desired, and despite comparable records it was always Brady’s team first. Deservingly so, Brady has topped Manning on many levels; regular season matchups, playoff wins, playoff matchups and Super Bowl titles. Society even acknowledges that Brady is better looking than Manning. For non-sports lovers, looks tend to be the deal breaker for women that make watching football tolerable. It also seems to be a deciding factor for girls who just want a team to cheer for. But not for me. When I compared Brady’s good looks and great arm to the frustration I saw on Peyton’s twisted face, I felt for him and knew from then on Peyton would be my guy.
I have long suffered with the Indy faithful treacherous post-season losses after nearly perfect regular seasons. But like me, the Colts too have a great sense of morale. Then Head Coach Tony Dungy was a big reason I decided to cheer for the horseshoe, as his beliefs on building solid foundations and giving credit where credit is due was just outstanding. Belittlement does not occur on Indy turf nor in the locker rooms. To this day I respect his philosophy of showing respect to one another, and loving each other like family. Manning had made it clear he wanted to end his career as a Colt, and I believe it was through Dungy’s philosophy that he felt confident to make that statement.
The best part about Indy’s relationship with Manning is that eventually, they did win it all. Some athletes spend their entire career with one team and never a shot at glory, while others bounce around in search of it. In 2007 Manning led the Colts passed the Bears 29-17 in Super Bowl XLI. At the time Indy had the worst rush defense in the league and had to go through the Patriots again in the Championship game. Manning however finally took control of his fate and brought the Patriots to a standstill after trailing 21-3 late in the first half. The 38-34 comeback win was immaculate and will forever resonate in my mind as a turning point in my life. It was the day I realized any challenge can be beat no matter how many times you’ve failed in the past. It was after that I decided to pursue my dream of sports broadcasting and enrolled myself in school for the following semester.
Coach Dungy believes success is comparative to ones character. That your attitude and the way you treat others off the field speak louder than your physical contributions on the field.
I was only 14 years old when I started to follow Peyton Manning’s career, and after all this time I’ve grown to learn that not only is he a great athlete, but he’s a great person and I wish him all the best in his future endeavours.