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.
To submit your letter to Peyton Manning, go to: http://www.colts.com/fanzone/contests-and-promotions/letters-to-peyton.html.