I posted this to my Facebook account and thought it'd be appropriate to post here as well.
I'm not sure if many non-football fans will read this but this is as much about my life outside of football as it is about a single football game tomorrow night. In case you've been living under a rock; Peyton Manning, the 13 year quarterback for the Colts, is returning to Indianapolis tomorrow night in one of the most over-hyped regular season games of all time. https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=e3oiPNsB0rw
I cannot think of a week in recent history I've avoided every type of sports media because I got so sick of hearing about the war of words going on that the media just blew way out of proportion.
But enough of that, I'm writing this note to convey the impact a quarterback for a football team had on my life. I've heard many people say that sports are for cocky people who are full of themselves and that no good can come from being a diehard fan such as myself. I beg to differ.
Let me tell you about athletes when I was a teenager. Athletes had been told since they were toddlers that they were the greatest thing to happen to this world since sliced bread. When they won they thought they were all that and a bag of chips. When something didn't go their way they often did this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o3Kbc-LSGvI
In case you don't know much about football allow me to enlighten you. Peyton Manning is arguably the best player to play football. He has everything you desire in a quarterback: arm strength, size, intelligence, accuracy, and a competitive nature. His father was an NFL quarterback and a college football legend. Peyton was among the most recruited quarterbacks ever when he left high school and the number one draft pick in the NFL when he left college. If any athlete has ever had the right to be cocky and full of himself I think it would be this guy.
In one sentence; Manning was good enough with the Colts to win multiple Super Bowls, but he didn't. Every year the Colts came up short from 2005 to 2010 intelligent football fans can point to the reason the Colts came up short and every year it was another part of the team other than Manning. Let's go through them:
2005: Missed Field Goal to tie the game
2006: Super Bowl Champs!
2007: No pass rush and a Chargers team lead by Billy Volek drove and beat the Colts
2008: Run Defense gave up over 5 yards a carry while run offense averaged less than 3 as the Chargers ran all over the Colts
2009: Made it to the Super Bowl but a WIDE RECEIVER let an onside kick to start the second half get by him and the pass defense gave up an 82% completion percentage game to Drew Brees and the Saints. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hS9vb6EIFLo
2010: Manning gave the Colts the lead with 53 seconds left but special teams and the defense allowed MARK SANCHEZ, yes you read that right, to drive the ball and set up a game winning field goal. This would be Peyton Manning's last game.
Through all the painful losses there was no anger outburst from Manning. Not once did he go to the media complaining about the rest of his team, even though most people wouldn't have blamed him if he did. In one word, what I learned from Manning was CLASS.
I learned that when you have success in life it's important to acknowledge others and God first before you acknowledge yourself. I learned that when there's failure in life you need to look at yourself first before you complain about others.
"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye."
As a result, when Manning did win it felt that much better to me than seeing some other stuck-up athlete win another championship. Perhaps that's why the only time I've cried during a sporting event was when we finally got past the Patriots in the 2006 Season AFC Championship game on our way to the only Manning-led Super Bowl win for the Colts. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ifwtVMgiCqM
Off the field Manning was once again the definition of class and humility. He has a children's hospital in Indianapolis named after him due to the countless amounts of money, fundraisers, and events he helped raise for the hospital.
The Colts owe so much of their success to Peyton and I learned so much by watching him on and off the field. When Peyton Manning was released I came close to crying because I felt that he deserved better. He deserved a better team, he deserved to finish his career off strong in the city that he helped turn into a football town.
When this promo ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NTQ5LNmpalM ) aired last week it got me choked up because I knew Peyton really was coming home.
This game on Sunday is going to be painful to watch. I will be cheering for the Colts the whole game because as Peyton taught me the team is so much more important than the individual. Some of you may laugh at the notion of a football game being so emotional but the lessons that I learned watching Manning and the Colts have turned this game of football into so much more than a game.