Moving On From Manning


Any time former Colts quarterback Peyton Manning returns to Indianapolis, it’s a big deal. And a big game. And Sunday afternoon was no different.

But amidst a stalled Colts offense, a newly installed offensive coordinator, a struggling quarterback, and a general lack of cohesion, I had no idea what to expect when the Colts hosted the Denver Broncos on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Because that’s just how this season has been. Unpredictable. From one game to the next, from one quarter to the next, from one play to the next…

In fact, I was so wrapped up in the issues facing the Colts and Andrew Luck, that I didn’t really have time to get nostalgic about the return of my former quarterback.

Even once I got to the game, I noticed the media gathered on the field, anxiously awaiting Peyton Manning’s entrance. But it was them waiting on him, not me. I was worried about my guys. My team. My quarterback.

When the game started, it was clear right away that this was not the Colts offense that we had been watching for most of this season. They were spread out, they were loose, they had some swagger, and they were working.

The defense stepped up, as they have so many times this season, and made big plays. Darius Butler had a big interception. Kendall Langford had a big sack on Peyton Manning. And this time, I didn’t even cringe.

The Colts had their mojo back. Andrew Luck had his smile back. And I had my team back.

Peyton Manning’s second homecoming ended much like the first. The Colts sent him and the Broncos home with their first loss of the season.

As we were walking to the car, my husband said, “Well, it’s too bad we couldn’t see Peyton break the NFL record for passing yards here.”

Without even thinking, I replied, “I didn’t even want him to. Let him break it back in Denver. He’s somebody else’s quarterback now.”

And a few steps later, it hit me.

Three and a half seasons removed from one of the biggest breakups in sports history and the football love of my life, years of feeling sick and torn and unsettled about it. And suddenly, without even knowing it, I had finally moved on.

Peyton Manning is somebody else’s quarterback now.

I’ve said it many times.

But on Sunday night, for the first time – I actually believed it.

Why Reggie Wayne As a Patriot Breaks My Heart


Photos: Matt Bowen/Indianapolis Colts

There are a few different kinds of breakups. I can tell you this, because I’ve had all of them at some point in my life.

There’s the Already Over You breakup, where you break up with someone and it’s so amicable, you actually hope they start dating someone right away. If nothing else, to make you feel better. You start picturing people you know would be good for them and setting them up in your head (or in real life). That’s how over it you are.

Then, there’s the Never Want to See You Again breakup. This one is less amicable. In this case, you already feel bad for the people who might date this person in the future, and you want to warn them. Not only do you want to get away from them, you want everyone else to stay away from them – for their own good.

But there’s also a more complicated breakup. It’s the breakup you don’t want, but you know is the best thing for you. And not only do you not want that person to date anyone else, but the mere thought of it kind of sickens you. The This Isn’t Working, But I’m Not Ready to Move On and I’m Sure as Hell Not Ready for You to Move On breakup is the hardest kind there is. And the only thing that could make it harder, would be that person moving on…with your archenemy.

And that is exactly what just happened to Colts fans with Reggie Wayne.

The writing was on the wall last season. Reggie had lost a step (or three). Injuries nagged him and the game started to surpass him. There were younger players waiting on the sideline. And it became all too obvious what the Colts needed to do.


We wanted the fairy tale ending. We wanted Reggie to play for only one team, to retire a Colt, to be inducted into the Ring of Honor immediately, and the Hall of Fame eventually, and to live happily ever after.

And that’s what Reggie wanted too – just not right now.

And therein lies the problem. Like so many other relationships, it all came down to timing.

The Colts moved on with someone younger.

And now, Reggie has decided to move on…with someone no one likes (who also has a history of cheating).

The truth is, if we didn’t love and care about him, we wouldn’t care where he went, what he did, or who he did it with. But we do.

Life is hard. Love is hard. Football is hard.


And saying goodbye before you’re ready is the hardest thing of all.

But a girl can still hope for a fairy tale ending.

And for Reggie Wayne, it’s worth the wait.

Indy 500 is America at its Best

Balloon release prior to the start of the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 24, 2015

Balloon release prior to start of 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 24, 2015

It’s incredibly fitting that the day after the Indianapolis 500 is Memorial Day. Not because it’s a good day for a barbecue. And not because it’s a day to relax after a long month of festivities. But because the Indy 500 is all about the American spirit.

Courage, toughness, focus, and drive are what it takes to race a car 500 miles at high speeds, in changing conditions, and despite unpredictable circumstances. The drivers put everything on the line – and do so knowing the price they pay could be injury, disability, even death.

That possibility became all too real this month when rocket-propelled cars actually began to take flight. A few close calls, including one, which could have cost driver James Hinchcliffe his life, left some questioning whether IndyCar had become too dangerous for its own good.

When asked about safety by ABC News, 2014 Indy 500 champion, Ryan Hunter-Reay, was quick to point out the history of the track, which was built as a proving ground for automobiles and has continued to break new ground ever since.

“At the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in IndyCars, it’s long been the case that pushing the limits of speed and boundaries, always pushing the envelope, it comes with some risk. It comes with the dangerous side of it,” he said. “The crashes have been a part of pushing that envelope at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway since the early 1900s.”

Since Carl Fisher had a vision and together with his partners James Allison, Arthur Newby, and Frank Wheeler, built a dirt track, paved it with bricks, gave birth to the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” and turned it into the most iconic racetrack in the world.

As three-time Indy 500 champion Helio Castroneves told ESPN, destiny and desire are part of it, but success at IMS is mostly about something else.

“It’s about respect. When you pay respect, the place will pay you back.”

-Helio Castroneves on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

So much of the Indianapolis 500 is about paying respect. To the track, the sport, the history, and the men and women who fought to make it all possible.

It’s a story of risk versus reward, speed versus strategy, and science versus technology.

But it’s also a story of the American dream.

And those who died so we could live it.

God bless them.

God bless the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

And God bless America.

Indy 500 Media Day at IMS

Troy Lee of Troy Lee Designs has been painting custom helmets “for the world’s fastest racers” for 33 years. He says he was thrilled to do the artwork for the Indy 500 and Grand Prix programs this year.

Troy Lee of Troy Lee Designs has been painting custom helmets “For the World’s Fastest Racers” for 33 years. He says he was thrilled to do the artwork for the Indy 500 and Grand Prix programs this year.

Media day for the Indianapolis 500 is always fun. You get to chat with the drivers about anything you want. And it proves to be pretty entertaining, especially if you’re not asking about racing strategy or downforce.

I share with you, my favorite moments from this year…

Gabby Chaves on driving Dan Wheldon’s 2011 Indy 500 winning car:

“I met Dan when I was 12 years old, racing in a Go Kart race. And what a great guy, one of my idols, one of my racing heroes for sure. And to drive the team that he drove with and carry the same number (98) he took to his victory, it’s very special.”

Alex Tagliani on how life has changed after he and wife Bronte welcomed baby girl Eva Rose into the family:

“I know one thing that changed and I realized it very early, is when I come home and there’s a bit of stress and there’s a bit of commotion or there’s unknown, I don’t feel as flustered or as disappointed as before. Before, my world was ending if something was wrong in the world of racing. Now, you go home and as soon as I see her face, it just clicks.” (Me: “You can turn everything off?”) “Yes.”

Tagliani followed up with, “I like it. If I knew that it was going to make me that way, I would have had kids earlier in my career.”

Conor Daly on feeling the love from Indy:

“For sure. Anywhere you go during the month of May, I think people know what’s going on, so it’s a lot of fun being here. I love this town. I love Indy. I love this race. So, to get to share it with a bunch of people from here also is pretty cool.”

I asked pole winner Scott Dixon and Bryan Clauson, who qualified number 33, who’s happier on Indy 500 Pole Day, the guy at number one or the guy at number 33. Both agreed, it’s close.

Target Chip Ganassi driver and Indy 500 pole winner Scott Dixon

Target Chip Ganassi driver and Indy 500 pole winner Scott Dixon

Scott Dixon: “I would say the common occurrence there is probably the sense of relief. One, that you’re going to capture the pole and two, you’re going to be in the race.”

Bryan Clauson: “His payday was probably a little better than mine.”

And on his dog (she has more than 3,000 followers on Twitter), who Clauson calls more famous than him: “She’s awesome. Chevy. She’s great. Best thing I ever did was get a dog. She doesn’t care that I qualified 33rd.”

Before qualifying, I asked James Hinchcliffe if he ever saw himself driving a No. 12 Flat12 Bierwerks car (the company that brews his Hinchtown Hammerdown beer). He said he’d have to take it up with Will Power.

Team Penske driver and 2014 IndyCar Champion Will Power

Team Penske driver and 2014 IndyCar Champion Will Power

Here’s Power’s response:

“I would most definitely give up No. 12 if I could drive the No. 1 car for the rest of my career.”

I wanted to ask James Hinchcliffe if it was intimidating to have a teammate who’s a model. But since he’s still recovering from his accident, I asked James Jakes what he thought Hinch would say.

Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver (and former model) James Jakes

Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver (and former model) James Jakes

Jakes said, “He’d probably come up with something like, ‘Well if he’s a model, there’s hope for all of us.’” Who says models don’t have a sense of humor?

Sebastian Saavedra on what he puts in his hair:

“What I don’t put in my hair, actually,” he joked. “It depends on the kind of the day. If it’s race day, I use something different to hold a little bit more with moisture and humidity. If it’s a gala day, I try to go a little bit more fancy, try to get less shiny, more natural. So, I have my weapons around.”

Team Ganassi driver and future hair model Sebastian Saavedra

Team Ganassi driver (and future hair model) Sebastian Saavedra

I asked him what brand he prefers. “Actually, Sebastian,” Saavedra responded (obviously). “He’s not my sponsor. I’m like, dude. I have hair. You have my name. It’s the best connection ever.”

Plus, the guy can race 500 miles in a helmet, whip it off, and still have great hair. Paul Sebastian, what are you waiting for? Get. On. That.

Charlie Kimball, who was accepted to Stanford, but pursued racing instead. I joked that had he gone to Stanford, there’s a pretty good chance he’d be playing for the Colts. He responded, “Well, I was never much of an athlete until I got in a car. I’m much better with 600 horsepower under my right foot, than trying to put horsepower to the ground through my own two feet.”

But seeing as his dad, grandmother, and grandfather all went to Stanford, Kimball says Andrew Luck, Coby Fleener, and Griff Whalen still welcome him as Cardinal family.

“They’re really good guys and I’ve enjoyed getting to be friends with them. I’m really impressed with how they handle the size of what they do.”

Graham Rahal on whether he expects to see David Letterman around more now that he’s retired: “I hope we do because I know how passionate he is about this. The key, I think for him, is to get Harry (his son) more into this. So it can become more of a father-son sort of thing. And if that can happen, then I think you’d see him all the time.”

And then there’s this nugget…

A lifelong Ohio State fan, I asked Rahal how he felt watching the Buckeyes win the College Football Championship. “We were at the game, like a month after we got engaged,” he said. “And I told her (fiancée Courtney Force) that ‘this was the best day of my life.’ And I don’t think she found it too humorous.”

Justin Wilson on being a tall guy in a small guy’s sport:

“I feel like the odd man out. It’s tough. The cars are small. They definitely work better with shorter guys who carry less weight.”

At 6'3", Team Andretti driver Justin Wilson is the tallest driver in the IndyCar series

At 6’3″, Team Andretti driver Justin Wilson is the tallest in the IndyCar series

Me: “Is there any advantage?”

Wilson: “I don’t think so. You do stand out in the drivers photo.”

Sage Karam on attracting more female racing fans: .

”There’s a few good looking guys in the series right now. So, that’s definitely a plus. You’ve got to market those guys. And I think we’ve got to start targeting the millennial generation and we’ve got to start using more of the popular millennial generation people. You’ve got to get girls like Taylor Swift to come perform at a track. Even if people aren’t coming for the race, they’re coming to see Taylor Swift. All the sudden, they see a car, they see the speed, they hear the noise, and they see a good looking driver and they go tell their friends, post a picture on Instagram, and there you go, it’s blowing up!”

Note to IMS President Doug Boles: Taylor Swift sings at the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500.

Hopefully, she won’t be singing about Sage Karam.


James Hinchcliffe and Flat12 Bierwerks Go International, Eh?

Sean O'Connor and James Hinchcliffe

Sean O’Connor and James Hinchcliffe

It started out as bar talk. Two guys having a beer and shooting the breeze on a Tuesday afternoon. One, Sean O’Connor, owns a brewery, Flat12 Bierwerks and loves IndyCar. The other, James Hinchcliffe, is an IndyCar driver who loves beer. They were set up by their accountant, Brent Cox, who thought they’d hit it off. They did.

And that’s how the Hinchtown Hammerdown beer was born.

“He and I just had a beer or two together. And I said, ‘Hey, you know what? Let’s do a Canadian Lager.’” That’s how O’Connor remembers it.

“It was just kinda like, ‘You know what would be fun for the month of May?’” Is how Hinchcliffe tells it.

But it wasn’t just talk. Because…they did it. They crafted a beer for the month of May. And it was good. So, the next year, they decided to sell it during the whole racing season.

The newly designed Hinchtown Hammerdown cans

The newly designed Hinchtown Hammerdown cans

Then, O’Connor says, one thing led to another. “Eventually, it morphed into putting it into bottles, putting it into cans, and we just announced (Thursday) that we’re going international and this beer is going up to Toronto. So, you’ll see that come next month for the race.”

Yes, ladies and gentlemen. James Hinchcliffe will return to his hometown for the Honda Indy Toronto on June 14th as the mayor of Hinchtown (his social media world), the driver of the No. 5 car for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, and the namesake of a beer.

“My friends back home, you tell them you race IndyCars for a living and they’re like, ‘Yeah, that’s cool.’ I tell them I have my own beer, they’re like, ‘No way, dude! That’s awesome!’”

–James Hinchcliffe, IndyCar driver and beer aficionado

Hinchcliffe says his goal all along was to come up with something race fans could drink at the track.


The Mayor of Hinchtown, James Hinchcliffe

“I love Indianapolis,” he said. “But at the same time, there’s a lot of your domestic-light-beer-drinking people in this part of the world. And I really wanted to try and make something to bridge that gap a little bit as well. It’s something that the craft beer aficionados could appreciate and understand, but that your domestic beer drinkers would also be able to drink without feeling like they just had a turkey dinner.”

And seeing as “Canadians don’t mind a beer or two,” (his words) Hinchcliffe is hoping the beer buzz created in Canada will be a bonus for the Verizon IndyCar series.

“There’s a lot of IndyCar fans. There’s a lot more beer fans. So, we hope this turns some of those just beer fans into beer and IndyCar fans.”

The name Flat12 is a reference to the flat, 12-cylinder engine of an IndyCar. Asked whether he’ll be driving a Flat12 Bierwerks car some day, Hinchcliffe responded, “That would be pretty awesome. We’re working on that. This is baby steps.”

An introduction that launched an unexpected bromance for Flat12 Bierwerks’ Sean O’Connor and IndyCar driver James Hinchcliffe has produced a partnership. O’Connor says the secret to their success is simple. “He and I have just done this thing organically all along. We’ve got great liquid. He’s got great talent.”

A match made in heaven.

And it all started over a beer.