How A White Blouse From Banana Republic Became My Own Little Miracle

Last April, I was going to my niece Anna’s first communion in Minnesota. And because my work wardrobe consists mostly of Colts fanwear, I found myself in need of a white blouse to wear with my gray skirt. I found one that was church appropriate at Banana Republic. So with my outfit planned, I was on my way.

The service was at a St. Jude’s Catholic Church in Mahtomedi. I’m not Catholic – I was baptized Methodist, confirmed Lutheran, and at this point, I just consider myself a Christian – though I don’t regularly (ok, rarely) attend church.

But on that day, as the priest began the service, he asked us to imagine a world where we only spread positive things about others. It struck me for several reasons – in part, because I find the negativity in the world today both excessive and exhausting. But also because I feel like the work I do with the Colts is very much about spreading the good news – the things the players and the team do that no one talks about – the lives they touch and the people they inspire, myself included.

The message was to see the good in others, to say good things about people when they’re not around, and to spread love, happiness, and kindness.

I left the church feeling inspired – like maybe in my own little way, I was doing my part to make the world a better place. That somehow, by telling these stories, maybe I could inspire others to look for the good, to share the positive, and to spread the light.

I went home recharged and refocused to do just that.

A few weeks later, I pulled the blouse I wore out of the closet and put it on. But when I looked in the mirror, I noticed a few stains on it. I hadn’t worn it since the service and didn’t have it cleaned afterwards because I only had it on for a few hours.

I took the shirt off, laid it on my bed, and stared at it. What looked like stains from a distance were actually three crosses imprinted on the fabric. The rest of the shirt was spotless. I was so stunned, I wasn’t sure what to do. So, I hung the blouse back in my closet and that’s where it’s been ever since.

There are many things in life that can’t be explained. I do think God speaks to us and sends us signs – and that if you’re not paying attention, you may miss them.

So on this Easter Sunday, keep your eyes open, keep your mind open, and keep your heart open.

But most of all, keep the faith.

Happy Easter, God bless…

And Go Colts!

Mike Adams Showed Me An Indianapolis I Had Never Seen

When the Colts signed Mike Adams in 2014, they knew what kind of guy they were getting on the field – a team player who would work tirelessly, give of himself, and make those around him better.

What they didn’t realize was that they were getting a guy who would also work tirelessly off the field.

Mike Adams grew up in Paterson, New Jersey. He speaks often about the neighborhood that surrounded him.

“Mainly, the worst conditions possible.”

On the field, he’s a safety – the last line of defense. Off the field, he’s a safety net – a helping hand to those in need.

During his time in Indianapolis, Mike Adams spent countless hours getting hands-on in the community. He adopted a charter school, Phalen Leadership Academy. He made regular visits there, meeting with the staff and students, supporting and inspiring them in any way he could.

His charisma and million-dollar smile made Adams an instant fan favorite.

Aside from athletic ability, his infectious personality is perhaps his greatest gift. It’s a tool he uses to connect with others and those interactions are what fuel him.

Every year around Thanksgiving, he gathered his teammates and brought dinner to families in need. He didn’t want to drop it off at the school or the community center, he didn’t want to ask them to pick it up – he brought it to their door. He wanted to spend time with the families, hear the stories, hold the children, and hug the mothers.

Photo: Colts/Amber Derrow

Writing for Colts Roundup, I followed him as he dragged me into parts of the city I had never seen and opened my eyes to what was there.

When I drive by those same neighborhoods now, the ones that once made me shudder – I think about the families who live there – people I’ve met, smiled at, and shed tears with. I wonder how they’re doing and what we can do to help.

No matter where Mike Adams goes, he makes everyone around him better. He made the Colts better. He made the city of Indianapolis better. He made me better.

And I’ll always be grateful.

Thank you, Mike, for giving of yourself in every possible way, for leaving the community better than you found it, and for doing it all with a smile on your face and love in your heart.

You’ll forever be a Colt and I’ll forever be your fan.

This Is Our Year

Ten years ago, I woke up saying, “Did that really happen? It wasn’t a dream? The Colts really won the Super Bowl?”

Today, I woke up saying, “Did that really happen? Did the Patriots really come back and beat the Falcons to win the Super Bowl?”

The only thing worse than that is waking up and having no football for six months.

The good news is – it’s a brand new season. And it starts today (even if it doesn’t officially start until fall).

And this season, the Super Bowl is in Minneapolis, the city I grew up in, the place I fell in love with football watching the Vikings with my dad on Sundays.

Minneapolis is beautiful. Yeah, it’s cold. But U.S. Bank Stadium is warm. And so are the people.

I plan to be at Super Bowl LII. And I plan on bringing the Colts with me. And if my old team wants to show up – well, that’s fine too. In fact, that’s exactly what Dan Graziano of ESPN is predicting – a Colts/Vikings Super Bowl – with the Colts winning, of course.

Here’s to 2017…

This is Our Year.

And it can’t get here soon enough.

Go Colts!

Pat McAfee Is Ready For The Next Big Thing

Photo: Matt Bowen/Colts

It was the first clue – and it came last July when I was riding around with Pat McAfee making surprise deliveries to Colts season ticket members.

After dropping approximately $150 into a jar at a lemonade stand, McAfee got back on the Colts bus. We were chatting about training camp, now just days away, and he said something that put a doubt in my mind that I couldn’t erase.

“This is the first year I’ve dreaded going to camp.”

I know no one looks forward to going to training camp (myself included), but there was something about the way he said it that told me this was more than just talk.

As the season progressed, so did my suspicion. I would notice a post on social media or hear his response to a question in the locker room.

Finally, around mid-season, I brought it up.

“You’re making me a little nervous,” I said. “I don’t know how much longer I’ll be kicking footballs for?”

He was sitting down in front of his locker. He looked me in the eyes and talked about how much time football takes up, about the other interests he has, and about how badly he wanted to pursue them.

And right then, I knew. At 29 years old, Pat McAfee was contemplating retirement.

Photo: Matt Bowen/Colts

I didn’t tell a soul. It was a casual conversation, more personal than professional in nature. I didn’t try to change his mind, it wasn’t my place – but secretly, I hoped something else would.

Later, as the end of the season neared, he seemed noticeably relaxed. Something had changed, I could tell. I knew he had a new lady friend, but still – I wondered.

“You seem happy,” I told him.

“I am,” he said. “I’m done.”

He proceeded to tell me about a job with Barstool Sports. It was the most excited I had seen him in months. He said he knew it was time to move on.

And suddenly, I did too.

“Well then,” I said, “I’m just going to enjoy every day we have you here.”

And I did.

Pat McAfee took his talent for kicking footballs from Plum, Pennsylvania all the way to the West Virginia Mountaineers, the Indianapolis Colts, and the NFL Pro Bowl.

Now, he’s going to use his talent to entertain – something he’s equally good at – and see how far that can take him.

Over the past eight seasons, Pat McAfee has grown up right before our eyes. He’s become a man, a professional, and more than anything – a Hoosier.

Pat McAfee is proud to call himself a Hoosier. He embraces everything about being a Hoosier. And he makes me a little more proud to be a Hoosier.

Goodbyes are tough, but McAfee made it clear he’s not going anywhere. He moved his family to Indiana and Indiana is where he will stay.

For Pat McAfee, retirement isn’t the end. It’s the beginning of a new, exciting chapter – one we can’t wait to be a part of. Whether it was on the field at Lucas Oil Stadium or on the stage somewhere else, we were always there to cheer him on. And we always will be.

Thank you, Pat, for showing us how to turn lemons into lemonade, inspiration into opportunity, and laughter into medicine.

The Colts’ loss is the country’s gain.

Someone needs to make America laugh again.

Photo: Pat McAfee

And Pat McAfee is just the man for the job.

Robert Mathis Is More Than a Football Player

The Colts locker room rarely looks the same.

The faces inside it are always changing – season to season, week to week, even day to day.

But for the past 14 seasons, linebacker Robert Mathis has been the anchor in a sea of change – the constant teammate, the constant professional, the constant leader.

You always know what to expect from Robert Mathis.

He demands the best of himself and those around him. Ask him a question, he’ll answer it. But if you want something more, you’ll have to ask another question – or a better question.

He doesn’t waste words. Mathis has a unique ability to say a lot by saying a little. Maybe it’s for effect, maybe he’s being efficient, or maybe it’s just his way.

He commands attention when he walks in the room. And when you see him coming, you get out of his way.

He looks the part. Every football player resembles a gladiator when they strap on a helmet and pads. Robert Mathis looks like a gladiator without all that. His chiseled features and steely gaze may be intimidating at first – but then he smiles and suddenly, he’s as human as you and me.

My job (writing the Colts blog, Colts Roundup), is to tell the players’ stories. I know who they are as football players, I want to know who they are as people – and help fans get to know them that way too.

With Robert Mathis, it wasn’t difficult – it just took time. He revealed himself slowly and in his own way.

He’s got a soft spot for kids and not just his own. His wife, Brandi, is his rock. He loves his family fiercely and he’s fiercely protective of them, just as they are of him. His late mother, Emma, was his everything – and now, she’s his angel.

Prior to the last game of the season, Mathis announced his retirement. During the press conference, I asked him this question: “Who is the one person most responsible for your success?”

This was his answer: “Emma Mathis, my mother. She lit a fire. Sophomore year in college, a lot of people don’t know it, but we got put out of our house. She was paying her rent, she cleaned houses for a living. She paid rent on time every month but the landlord wasn’t paying the mortgage. The U.S. Marshal knocked on our door and we got put out. My mom was crying crocodile tears. That lit a fire. There’s going to be a lot of hell to pay for somebody on the football field. Thank God for keeping me healthy for 14 years to retire her … It was a happy ending after all.”

Emma Mathis is Robert Mathis’ why.

It’s a special thing any time I get a player to share a piece of himself. But when Robert Mathis did – it was downright magical. During that last press conference, he opened his heart and let us see a little bit of his soul.

The following Monday, he was in the locker room cleaning out his locker for the last time. “Hey, Robert,” I said. I stuck my hand out to congratulate him and say goodbye. He looked up, smiled, and gave me a hug.

I had respect for Robert Mathis the day I walked into the Colts locker room. But the day I earned it back, I’ll never forget.

It’s hard to say and even harder to believe – but the next time I go into the Colts locker room, Robert Mathis won’t be there.

I won’t say he’s no longer a Colt, because Robert Mathis will always be a Colt. For 14 seasons, he showed us what it means to be a Colt. And I hope he can continue to do that in some way.

He played football for a living and made a life doing it. But Robert Mathis is more than a football player. He’s a husband. He’s a father. He’s Emma Mathis’ son.

But more than anything, Robert Mathis is a leader.

I look forward to seeing where life leads him.

And where he chooses to lead.