Dear Andrew Luck,

Photo: Matt Bowen/Colts

Dear Andrew Luck, 

I hope you know that watching you play at Stanford your senior year got me through that 2-14 Colts season. To me, you were a Colt before you ever put on the uniform. 

I hope you know that the day you walked through the door, I knew everything was going to get better. 

I hope you know that embracing you healed my heart after the Peyton Manning breakup – something I didn’t think was possible at the time. 

I hope you know that when Peyton returned as a Bronco and you led the Colts to a win, you also won the city.

I hope you know that watching you be unapologetically yourself only made us love you more. 

I hope you know that I was your teammate off the field – I always had your back, I always defended you, and I always took up for you.  

I hope you know that even from my seat, I was trying to protect you on game day. 

I hope you know how proud I always was to call you my quarterback.

I hope you know that watching you light up the faces of sick children brought just as much joy to me as it did to them. 

I hope you know that seeing you hurt, struggling, and sad stole some of my happiness as well.  

I hope you know that the people who booed when you left the field at Lucas Oil Stadium for the last time don’t represent the majority of Colts fans.

I hope you know that the future success of this team is something you helped build. 

I hope you know that the legacy you leave behind is so much bigger than football.

I hope you know that the best thing you can do for us now is to move on, live your life, and be happy.

I hope you know that no matter where you go and no matter what you do, I’ll be cheering for you – and not just on Sundays.

I hope Indianapolis is always your home. And even if it’s not, I hope it always feels like home.

Thanks for the memories, Andrew. 

I wish you love, luck, and happiness in the next chapter of life.  

To The NFL Wives

Life changes fast in football. One week, you’re on top of the world. The next week, you don’t even recognize your world.

In the NFL, change is inevitable. Even the team that wins the Super Bowl is never the same – coaches leave, players move on, it’s all part of the game.

My heart goes out to all of those men, their families, and of course, their wives.

I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know many of the Colts wives over the years. They’re impressive women in their own right – tough, smart, loving, and strong – they lean on each other and support their husbands, their families, and their team. These women hold down the fort, raise the children, and manage their lives while their husbands work long hours away from home.

It takes a special kind of woman to sign up for a football life. Just like their husbands, they eat, sleep, and breathe the game. Every win gives them a little more comfort and every loss leaves them wondering if changes will come.

“Don’t feel bad for us,” they say. “It’s what we signed up for.” They’re blessed with a lifestyle and privileges few enjoy. They know it and they’ll be the first to tell you – but that’s not what drives them.

The women I know are motivated by love for their husbands. They’re dedicated wives who put on a happy face so he has one less thing to worry about at the end of the day. They’re devoted mothers who carry on so their kids can have a normal childhood, even though they secretly worry about the next move and the uncertainty it brings.

The NFL is a small world and a big family.

As coaches and players move on, I wish them all the best. I’m grateful for the time they spent with us and everything they brought to our team and our community. And I know I’ll cross paths with them again some day.

But most of all, I’m glad to know they’ve got the women they have beside them every step of the way.

United We Stand – Divided We Fall

Photo: Matt Bowen/Colts

Sunday was a day like no other in the National Football League.

I was standing on the field at Lucas Oil Stadium when a news alert came across my phone. The Pittsburgh Steelers would stay in the locker room during the National Anthem.

Stunned and heartsick, I looked around our stadium as the fans began to fill the seats wondering what the day would hold.

I was still on the field when the National Anthem began. As I stood watching, a chorus of boos broke out. At first, I was shocked. Who would boo during the anthem? I looked down the field and saw Browns players on one knee. I didn’t find out until afterwards that there were Colts players kneeling as well.

When I finished gathering my stories and made it up to my seat, my mom was teary. Not because of the players who took a knee, but because of the boos that rained down from above.

“I never thought I would hear booing during our National Anthem,” she said.

And neither did I.

Sports are a reflection of society and this is where we are – more divided than ever. And not just on the football field.

How many neighbors quit talking to each other after the last election? How many families can’t discuss politics around the dinner table? The NFL is a family. And just like your family, different people have different opinions about what’s happening in our country and our world.

We didn’t arrive here overnight and we won’t fix it overnight. But one thing is clear – we have to stop looking for someone to bring us together. We’ve been doing that for too long – and in the process, we’re only being pulled farther and farther apart.

Some people watched Sunday’s game and saw a team and a fan base divided. I saw a team that linked arms in support of each other, some players standing, some kneeling, and then went out and worked together to win a football game – while the fans cheered them on.

As a society, we need to find a way to do the same thing. It’s up to us to come together. And maybe, just maybe – like it has so many times, football can help us do that.

We’re going to have different leaders and different players, tides will turn, games will change and so will the times.

But at the end of the day, we’re all we’ve got.

There’s a lot of noise out there right now.

Photo: Matt Bowen/Colts

But the sound I heard loudest on Sunday was the voice of a fan base cheering on their team.

And that’s a pretty good start.

Dear Peyton

Dear Peyton,

I’m sitting in my seat overlooking an empty field at Lucas Oil Stadium. We just finished a promotional shoot for the Letters To Peyton campaign and it occurred to me that I hadn’t written my letter to you – and I should have been the first to do it, because I wouldn’t be sitting here if it wasn’t for you.

I went to my first Colts game in September of 2004. I was new to Indianapolis and my husband (my boyfriend at the time) was a longtime season ticket holder. I grew up a Vikings fan in Minnesota, so I was thrilled to see the Colts beat the Green Bay Packers that day. I could hardly wait for November, when the Vikings came to the RCA Dome to play the Colts on Monday Night Football. What I didn’t know then, was that by the time that game came around, I would already be a Colts fan. That’s how quickly you won me over.

Watching you throw the football to Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne, I became your biggest fan and your toughest defender. While Jeff Saturday protected you from the front, I had your back.

Through the celebratory victories and the agonizing defeats, the Colts became my team, Indianapolis became my city, and the fans became my people. During that time, my boyfriend also became my husband. I don’t necessarily credit the Colts with that, but it probably didn’t hurt.

Those years were special – not only because of the success you had on the field, but because of the success we enjoyed off the field because of it. What you did for our city, our state, and the game of football was unprecedented.

Then suddenly, unpredictably, it was over.

I couldn’t quite grasp how I felt when you and the Colts parted ways. It was hard to even talk about it, so I did what I do best – and wrote. I started a blog, started another one, and wrote and wrote and wrote. It was like therapy for me – and what I discovered, was that it was also therapy for others. And when you came back to play the Colts as a Bronco, I wrote a story on my conflicted heart. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one – because it went viral. Football fans all over the world could feel my pain. I gained an audience and bonded with them through the joy and heartache of being a fan.

A few years later, the Colts started a blog, Colts Roundup. And guess who they brought in to write it? Now starting my third season with the team, I’m living my dream. And it all started with you.

Thank you, Peyton, for everything – the wins, the losses, the playoff games, the Super Bowls, and every amazing memory we made along the way.

I look forward to seeing your statue outside of Lucas Oil Stadium and your name permanently inscribed inside it.

A fitting tribute to a man who changed the landscape of a city and the lives of so many – myself included.


Heather Lloyd

To submit your letter to Peyton Manning, go to:

Matt Overton Has Special Place In Hearts Of Colts Fans

Photo: Matt Bowen

It was January, the last day of the season. The Colts locker room was almost empty, as most of the players had cleaned out their stuff and left. As I took one final sweep through, I found Matt Overton at the back of the locker room gazing into his empty locker. He took his fist and knocked each wall before turning to walk away.

“Hey,” he said, slightly surprised to see me.

“It’s not over, is it?” I asked.

“Nah,” he replied and gave me a hug.

Still, I couldn’t help but wonder if he knew something I didn’t.

Looking back now, he did – that football is a business and there are no guarantees, that any day can be your last, and that you have to cherish every moment because you never know if you’ll get it back.

Photo: Matt Bowen

Overton’s road to the NFL was long and winding, going through the UFL (twice) the Seattle Seahawks (twice), and the Houston Texans before landing in Indianapolis. A member of the Fourth Down Army, he went to work alongside Adam Vinatieri and Pat McAfee, becoming a fan favorite, making the Pro Bowl, and growing into one of the best long snappers in the league.

Photo: Matt Bowen

The only thing more inspiring than watching him live his dream was watching him live his life.

Since arriving in Indianapolis in 2012, Overton embraced the team, the city, and the fans. When he wasn’t out in the community with the Colts, he was out in the community on his own – doing ride-alongs with IMPD, showing up at dance marathons, visiting cancer patients, and spending time with kids. He was truly “for the kids” from Riley Hospital, bringing them to games, taking them to concerts, escorting them to prom, and making them part of his family. And in the process, he became part of theirs.

Photo: Matt Bowen

He made Indianapolis his home and became a Hoosier – a better Hoosier than most Hoosiers, even though he’s from the West Coast. He bought a house, built a business, and his love for Indiana shined with everything he did.

Matt Overton packed up his locker for good today. This time, I wasn’t there to see it. He’s determined to play football somewhere and I hope he gets his wish.

As hard as it is to say goodbye, I know it’s not really goodbye. Matt Overton will always be part of Indianapolis, just like Indianapolis will always be part of him.

Photo: Matt Bowen

Thank you, Matt, for being the guy we could always count on – on the field and off, for giving of yourself in so many ways, and for inspiring us to do more, give more, and be more.

We wish you nothing but the best because that’s what you are – the best. And that’s how we’ll always remember you.

We’ll miss you on Community Tuesday, on game day, and every day.

Photo: Matt Bowen

But we’ll always have your back and we’ll be cheering you on wherever life takes you.