Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Open Letter to Peyton Manning



Dear Mr. Manning –

I am not a sports reporter, not an NFL analyst, not a former player.

I’ve never studied film, and I’ve not catalogued all the best and worst moments in football history.

I know the game of football well, though I still can’t figure out why you can challenge a first down spot but not a pass interference call.

What I have done is played some seriously rugged flag football games, donned blue and orange every Sunday from August to January for the past 43 years, sat through some unbelievably frigid games at Mile High (once while 7 months pregnant) and cheered for the Denver Broncos since before I can remember…even during the heart-crushing games.

I even named my beloved Black Lab after John Mobley (who I still believe is responsible for saving the Broncos’ victory in Super Bowl XXXII against the Packers.)

And most proudly, I am a mom of two little boys who adore their #18 jerseys and can’t wait to find out “how Peyton Manning’s team did?” every Monday morning.

So I am undeniably biased.

And it is because of my bias – and lack of NFL analysis experience – that makes me far more qualified to talk about your legacy than any of those analysts, former players, coaches and commentators (I’m looking at you, Mike Greenberg and Cris Carter).

They operate in a world where recency dictates everything, and controversy and sensationalism make the headlines.

No, I am more qualified because I am a mom.

I actually understand – on the most basic level – what legacy truly means.

Legacy is something handed down that matters.

It is something that matters to young players and athletes and kids looking for mentors to help them find their way.

You don’t hand down Super Bowl trophies. You don’t hand down NFL MVPs or franchise records. And you don’t hand down touchdowns, statistics or win-loss records.

You hand down an example of work ethic, of courage to come back after a career-threatening injury, of humility in victory and graciousness in defeat, and of perspective on one’s own accomplishments.

That legacy matters, and that’s why yours is untarnished even - and especially - after Sunday's loss.

It matters that you’re professional in the way you talk to reporters.

It matters that you give credit to others – coaches, teammates, mentors.

It matters that you don’t give up in a bad game and keep fighting no matter the odds.

It matters that you take time to write hand-written notes to fans and sign autographs – even after crushing defeat.

It matters that you know the difference between being embarrassed by your team’s performance and just not being the best team on the field that day.

And it matters that you meticulously prepare to play the game...and encourage everyone around you to do the same.

I doubt you take stock in what those analysts say about your legacy (no doubt a trait your father has clearly bestowed upon you and your brothers), but I want you to know that this mom of two young boys who already recognize you’re different from the others, believes your legacy has never been stronger.

And I'm confident thousands of others agree with me. 

Whether you win another game, your accomplishments in football are nothing short of remarkable – alongside many other outstanding players.

But it’s your character that sets you apart from so many of your predecessors and peers.

And that’s a legacy that matters.

58 comments:

  1. Extremely Well Said! Thank you author and Thank You Peyton!

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    1. Thank you for reading, F. R. Wurpel!

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    2. Already sent you a message on Facebook but.... WELL DONE. As a Denver girl myself, now living in Virginia, with two boys, every word you wrote meant something to me. Thank you!!!!

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    3. Thanks David and Ann. Really appreciate hearing from people about the blog...it just proves my point - Peyton is special!

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  2. This article is another example of why I have always held the author on a pedestal just as towering as the ones Peyton Manning or John Elway occupy.

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    1. You are too kind, Jeff, but thanks nonetheless!

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  3. Well thought out and well said. It's refreshing to see in writing what I thought after the game as well, and I am a Seahawks fan. It's about sportsmanship and character and Manning has both! Thank you for putting this out there!

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    1. Thanks Carla! Especially since you're a Seahawks fan, it is much appreciated. And congrats on a nice win ;)

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  4. Laurie, you "hit-the-nail-on-the-head". Indiana still loves Peyton for the trail of good he left behind. Nice job, thank you.

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    1. Thanks, John! My brother went to UT the same time as Peyton and so we all became Manning fans then and while he was at Indianapolis...long before he became a Bronco! But I was elated when we decided to sign him ;) It's been good for Denver to have him, as it is for any team!

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    2. Laurie, thank you so much! Your letter is far more accurate than any football 'expert' and I'm so grateful Peyton joined our Bronco team. I look forward to another year with a great man leading our offense!

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  5. Very good Laurie - you speak truth!. (Thanks for another great Christmas letter too - your parents don't know how lucky they are to have you write those!)

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    1. Thanks, Barb ;) My family is almost as easy to write about as Peyton - ha ha!

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  6. Thank you for writing this. I admire Peyton Manning's recovery and return to performing at the highest level, as I also recovered from an injury and am back to being strong. He continues to be an inspiration to me. God bless.

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    1. Thanks for your comments...and all the best continuing getting stronger. I've had to from athletic injuries a few times, and it isn't easy, but overcoming it definitely adds a new appreciation for the work involved! Good luck!

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  7. Excellent letter. I also am a Denver fan from way back - (Phoenix only showed AFC West games and the Cowboys in the 80s.) It is clear to this Army Officer his class and professionalism in all of his public dealings. They will be back and Peyton Manning's class & professionalism will show his team mates the way.

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  8. Very well said! I'm from Indianapolis and have been a Manning fan for years. His attitude on & off the field truly sets him apart. He held his head high even though the Broncos didn't fare so well last Sunday. He's a champion in my book and my kids really think he's a cool guy too! I wish Peyton and his family could read what you wrote as I'm sure it would make them smile and feel very thankful.

    Take care!
    Valerie S.

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    1. Thanks, Valerie. He is a cool guy...and I forgot to mention in my post that we also really like his commercials! Classy and funny? That's rare ;)

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  9. Nicely put. As they say, "Keep the main thing the main thing." in this post you did that.

    ---a parent, an long time admirer of Payton, father of a High School QB

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    1. Amen to that! Good luck to your son (and to you...it can be hard to sit in the stands!!)

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    1. Appreciate the feedback...thanks for reading it!

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  11. I watched "The Book of Manning" on ESPN and was blown away by this amazing family. I grew up as an Archie Manning fan and now am a big time fan of the Saints because of that. I also cheer for The Giants and The Broncos and I did cheer for The Colts before that. This is a wonderful open letter. Nearly made me cry..

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    1. I loved that film! I have been a longtime Peyton fan (despite his Vols continually beating up my Roll Tide teams), but after that film, I became a huge Manning family fan. Thanks for reading...and commenting!

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  12. Well said!! Same sentiments from this Tennessee fan..."That's where I come from, I'm a Tennessean! And I'm proud as anyone, back where I come from....." Touchdown, Tennessee!

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    1. Peyton and Kenny Chesney...good combo! Thanks for reading ;)

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  13. I couldn't agree more. I am from Indianapolis and have followed Peyton through his college years. I have met him twice and he is very personable. Although he is no longer here, his legacy continues. The fans here still love Peyton the man and Peyton the greatest QB ever. What a great man to look up to. What you said, kudos and well spoken. P.S. Take care of our boy, now your boy!

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  14. This was amazing. Thank you for sharing.... we ALL have been feeling this way but you so eloquently but it in to words for us. Ya know Archie did not have the career that either one of his boys have had but the legacy that he handed down to them shows thru in everything they do, not just in a football stadium.

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    1. Thank you, Tammy. I think it is very obvious that Archie has had a very positive influence on his sons! Thanks for reading.

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  15. Very well said. I loved Peyton as a Colt and I still love him as a bronco. He is someone I think many young people would be honored to mold their lives after. He has always come across like a very carrying man. Thank you Peyton for being a man that Mom's are proud of , that our children are looking up to.

    Thank you Peyton for making us Mom's proud of you !!

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  16. Love your letter. My son is 13 and a Colts fan. I am also, but before Colts, I am a Peyton fan. And I'm blessed that my son recognizes what a truly wonderful person Peyton is. I respect him and his talent, his graciousness, his values, and his work ethic. I could go on and on. He has set a high standard for all of us.

    Thank you so much for your letter!!!!!

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    1. He most definitely has! Thanks so much for reading and responding...appreciate the comments!

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  17. Personally I feel the same way and Peyton is an Amazing Public figure as well as in my mind the greatest football player to play the game. I as well have a deep respect for Peyton and wish him well and can't wait to see more in the future. If you see this Mr. Manning your amazing and thank you for being who you are.

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    1. THanks, Benjamin...really appreciate the kind words from a fellow Peyton fan!

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  18. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I may have cried...ok...I cried reading this. I've been a Peyton Manning fan for 20 years, and I've had to argue his legacy for just about every single one of them. Your words were just the perfection I needed to read today.

    Oh...and Roll Tide, too! (Alabama graduate '00 and '01)

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    1. You are SO welcome ;) Thank YOU for reading! Roll Tide and Go Broncos!

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  19. Die-hard Colts fan and we to know of this..Legacy thing that the illustrious Mr. Manning has brought to The Nfl,but more importantly the off-the field contributions he has made to The city he Plays in and the one he Played in too! He will always be My pick for "the Greatest -of-all-time."

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    1. Mine too! And although my blog wasn't about his football stats, I think his numbers are at the top, whether he wins Super Bowls or not. No one approaches the game the way he does because no one else knows how! Thanks for reading.

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  20. Great letter, but methinks you should have capitalized "Mom". You are a fine one and have set a great example for your boys.

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    1. I keep trying to tell my family that! ;) Thanks for reading!

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  21. Seahawks fan here, but after watching the Sound Fx Super Bowl videos I am also a fan of Peyton Manning and Champ Bailey. They both seem like classy, outstanding men on and off the field.

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    1. Agreed! Thanks for reading...and congrats on that Super Bowl win...obviously your team deserved that! ;)

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  22. Peyton Manning. A livi'n Legend

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  23. I shed a few tears reading your letter. You are right on. The entire Manning family have these traits and that is why I love them. AND: John Elway went to 5 Super Bowls and had 3 losses before he won the last 2. Peyton has 1 win and 2 losses. Elway is now regarded one of the greatest of all times. And Peyton is right up there with him. He already has sealed his legacy as both a fine man and a great quarterback.

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    1. Thanks so much for reading. And re: Petyon's stats v. other QBs (such as Elway) - Agreed, agreed, agreed! I wish sports commentators would remember a little more history and keep a broader perspective before talking most of the time!

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  24. As a newcommer to CO, I must say that the Broncos fought hard. They had a GREAT season and that is something that nobody can take away. Peyton Manning tried HIS hardest and that is what matters.

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    1. Welcome to Colorado! I miss my home state every day, especially during football season! Bronco fans will take care you - join in the fun (and it is FUN, even when the season ends in such a heart-crushing manner!) Thanks for reading...and taking the time to respond.

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  25. Amazing! The Broncos were my first NFL team to follow since we had to answer game questions on our journalism quizzes at Mercer! So happy for you and your family!

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