I’m going to admit this publicly, once and for all, something I’ve admitted privately for years. The day Manning retires - no matter the circumstances - will be a day I shed some tears, and the day the last part of my childhood youth dies away.
Manning is the reason I approached football the way I did…and though I’ll probably never meet him, he has certainly had a big hand in my life. Some may scoff at this, but in the end, Manning has been my biggest childhood idol and hero, and this article reminds me that time has gone on, age and maturity has come with it.
I’m no longer 8, watching a guy named Peyton wave his arms and bark orders around like a squawking pigeon…and football is no longer something confined to Madden ‘98. Life has grown past the confines of my childhood and with growing up came responsibility.
Whether it be the loss of a friend to death, friends becoming tragically ill, car accidents, or whatever life circumstances that were brought into my life, in the end, my experiences from football and sports (and obviously, God’s grace), helped me adapt, shape, cope, and grow.
No matter how it ends, and I’m very afraid this may be the end, Peyton will be one of my idols and heroes forever.
It happened. I swore to myself that throughout all the drama of the last 4 months, all the ups and downs, the let downs and disappointments, I wouldn’t walk away feeling this angry, bitter, and resentful.
But I am. Today I actually had the thought that Mark Sanchez and his agent, Rex Ryan, and the rest of the Jets administration are doing a better job than the team and player I would give a right arm to meet and hang out with for 5 minutes.
Peyton Manning, I’m heartbroken. With the lift of the lockout, the only Colts rumors you can find is about Peyton Manning and his unsigned contract, and the angry words that are starting to be thrown faster and more angrily than Angry Birds.
“Under this system, you cannot pay a player $25 million. It’s just not going to work. You’re not going to be able to compete,” Colts owner Jim Irsay admitted in a conference call this week.
This lockout was all about the money. It was more annoying than Tom Cruise shoutingin Jerry Maguire. The world should have never gotten to this point, especially the sports world. No men are worth the contracts they are signing to play a children’s’ game – a game I miss and hold dear to my heart. No, that money belongs to be spread out evenly amongst the 10% of Americans who don’t have jobs, the millions of starving families around the world, and those specific and special individuals who are trying to cure cancer and save people like my god-father Jim, who by God’s grace beat out leukemia this year after facing death.
So someone tell me why the greatest player to grace the football field is being selfish. Or maybe it’s his agent. We don’t know for sure. But tell me why he/they need more money when he has had 13 seasons to put away millions of cash for the rest of his lifetime. Someone tell me how that much pride creeps into someone’s soul as they get older. Before it was pride in his throwing and winning…now it’s trying to beat Brady in a “whose worth more” game – I’m sorry Peyton, I’ll say it…you win 3 Super Bowls and come back to your fan base.
Don’t get me wrong, I still worship and idolize Mr. 18 more than I should. In fact, I tear up thinking and writing about this, because my whole life in football has surrounded him. I modeled the way I played, analyzed, and think about the game by watching every interview and reading every article ever written by him. I spent hours upon days upon months sitting on Colts.com and NFL.com just to learn everything I could from The Master.
But as I’ve gotten older, and as the glitz and glamour of the shiny idols wears off, it turns out Peyton is appearing more human than I ever imagined. This week I’ll sign off for a loan amount that will take a decade to pay off so I can finish my education. Peyton makes that by going to one workout session during the offseason.
Once the dust settles, I’ll go back to my ways – watching every game online (as a West Coast boy), reading every article by ESPN and drafting him too early in the first round of my ESPN fantasy draft. But it’s never going to be the same, just like dating someone after they cheated on you.
This NFL lockout took the very best of who we thought were the best…and the biggest supposed winners (the fans) have actually lost: lost respect, lost understanding, and lost heart…and the reality has certainly been blurred.