Friday, April 29, 2016

This Is Why...

When the Denver Broncos earned a spot in this year's Super Bowl, it was an exciting two weeks here in Colorado leading up to the Big Super Bowl 50 to see what would happen.  Frequently throughout those two weeks, I would be talking to friends and family across the country and nearly everyone wanted to discuss, at least a little, the Denver Broncos and their upcoming Super Bowl game.

The conversation was often some version of the same...
Them:  Hey, how about those Broncos!
Me: Yeah, we're pretty excited, talk about a great defense.
Them: Yeah, but Cam Newton's pretty impressive... we'll see how it goes.
Me: Who are you cheering for?
and this is where the conversation changed and came one of three responses
Their Response A: Definitely the Broncos.  I really like Peyton Manning.
Their Response B: I don't really care, but I like Peyton Manning, so I guess I'd kind of like to see Denver win for his sake.
Their Response C: I'm cheering for Carolina... but I really like Peyton Manning and so if Denver won, I would be happy for him.
Their Response D: I'm cheering for Peyton.  Who is he playing again? 

I was amazed at the absolute unity I heard far and wide regarding support for Peyton Manning heading into Super Bowl 50.

I have always liked Peyton Manning.

When I was in 7th grade, #1 Michigan beat #7 Washington State and was voted National Champions for the year 1997.  This was back when the National Champions were decided by vote, not by playoff and championship games.  One pole voted Michigan as Champions... the Coach's pole voted Nebraska Champions... because their coach was retiring.

Nebraska played Tennessee in a Bowl game that year, and Peyton Manning was the University of Tennessee quarterback.  I was at a sleepover with friends during that Nebraska v. Tennessee game, and I spent the whole sleepover cheering for Tennessee and Peyton Manning in the hopes that they would upset Nebraska and Michigan would become the undisputed National Champions for 1997.  Tennessee lost the game, but I cheered for and followed Peyton Manning from that day one.  There was something special about that quarterback. 

Now, fast forward 18 years (WOW!) and every conversation I have with people from all around the country reiterates that there really was something special about that quarterback.

In this day and age when Americans do not agree on ANYTHING -- when we have become not only so disagreeable, but so disrespectful toward one another... here is a man who does not fit the mold.  Maybe everyone I spoke with was not cheering for the Denver Broncos, but everyone was cheering for Peyton Manning.

What a testament to the character of this man.

I recognized this back in February when he (and the Broncos) won Super Bowl 50... and then a few weeks later when he announced his retirement, but I still didn't know exactly why it was everyone wished Peyton well.

Then, yesterday, I saw a commercial and I realized that this is why he is beloved by so many and why, even opposing fans, continue to think of him with favor and respect:

 Thank you, Peyton for being such a great man, a good role model, and someone I can, in good conscious, encourage the next generation to look up to.  Two-time Super Bowl Champion is not even top of your list of accomplishments when you consider that supporting you unified an entire country, and wishing you well in retirement still does.


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