We all have that one person who inspired us to do something different – something that changed the course of your life. It steered you in a different direction. You caught some wind, and before you knew it, you were somewhere else. For me, that person is Peyton Manning.
I moved to Indianapolis in 2004.
I was a Vikings fan. My husband (my boyfriend at the time) had Colts season tickets. I joke that he took me to a game and Peyton Manning did the rest. By the time the Vikings came to play the Colts on Monday Night Football in November, I was already a Colts fan. It wasn’t that the Vikings were that easy to give up, it was more that the Colts were that hard not to fall in love with.
It wasn’t just Peyton. I went to Syracuse with Marvin Harrison. I liked and respected Coach Tony Dungy from his years in Minnesota. But I’m not going to lie, it was mostly Peyton who started my love affair with the Colts.
It all happened so fast – like a rollercoaster ride. The ups, the downs – and then, suddenly, he was gone. Whisked away on a private jet to Denver. He was somebody else’s quarterback now. And all that was left were the memories and a huge, gaping hole in my heart.
I joke that Peyton Manning is the worst breakup I ever had. But it’s no joke. I sobbed through his farewell press conference, mourned through the remainder of the offseason, and eventually channeled my pain. Some people sing, some people dance, some people get tattoos, I write.
And just when I thought I was over him, he came back.
Peyton’s homecoming brought it all back. So I wrote some more. It was the first story I ever had that went viral. I had a following now. A few days later, I walked into Harry & Izzy’s (where I’m a regular) and the hostess told me they had all read my blog post. I never even told them I had a blog.
Eventually, my hobby became my profession. I started writing for the Colts. There are still days I don’t know how I got here. But then, I see his face or his jersey or his number somewhere in the building and I remember.
It was all a blur…
The wins, the losses, the records, more wins, more shattered records, the playoff games, the Super Bowls. All along, I knew how special it was. I knew some day I would look back on all of it in awe.
That day has come.
Thank you Peyton, for making me a Colts fan, for making my mom a Colts fan, for changing the course of my adulthood, for inspiring me to live my dream, and for giving me my own football story, one that bonds me with fans all over the world, and one that I’ll tell for the rest of my life.
Sometimes the most beautiful beginnings start with an end. That’s what Peyton Manning did for me. And I wish the same for him.
I’ll miss you on Sundays. And Mondays. And Thursdays…
Thank you very much from the bottom of my heart. I truly have enjoyed having you as my quarterback.
You’ll always be my main Man(ning).