A Bittersweet Time for Football Fans 

Former Colts Reggie Wayne and Peyton Manning (Photo: Indianapolis Colts)

Former Colts Reggie Wayne and Peyton Manning
(Photo: Matt Bowen/Indianapolis Colts)

This week begins the NFL free agency signing period. The unofficial start of the 2015 season. A chance to sign veteran players, players with a track record, players who’ve had proven success.

I should be excited. I should be ecstatic. Instead, I’m heartbroken.

Because this is also the time of year when football fans have to say goodbye to players. Players who come into our lives, players we spend years getting to know, players we cheer for every Sunday, players whose health we obsess over, whose every word we hang on, and after years of investing all of ourselves in this relationship, eventually, some day…it’s time to say goodbye.

That time is now.

And just like any other relationship, it can rip your heart out.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not about one player. I love my team and I’m excited about what they’re building. I understand the business of football. And oddly enough, I don’t disagree with the decision.

But that doesn’t change how I feel about it. Truth be told, right now, when I picture my Colts lining up without Reggie Wayne this season…I feel sick and empty inside.

I know there are other guys out there. Guys who could come in and make an immediate impact. But I don’t care about those guys. I don’t have a history with those guys. I haven’t made memories with those guys.

Right now, I’m heartbroken. Weepy heartbroken. Don’t want to eat heartbroken. Nothing’s going to make me feel better heartbroken.

And that’s the curse of being a football fan.

I’m mourning the loss of one of the football loves of my life. But unbeknownst to me, I’m also in the process of making new memories and falling in love with new players. Only to eventually repeat this pain all over again.

But if the alternative to having my heart broken is having players I don’t love on my team, then the choice is easy.

I’ll take heartbreak.

Every time.

I just wish it didn’t hurt so damn bad.

XO

Time for Peyton Manning to come home. For good.

Peyton Manning (Photo: Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

Peyton Manning
(Photo: Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

I love Peyton Manning. Peyton Manning made me a fanatical football fan. One of the most heartbreaking days of my life was the day Peyton Manning left the Indianapolis Colts. And his homecoming as a Bronco was no easier. Peyton Manning is the reason I have football blogs, and Twitter followers, and talk on the radio.

Which is why it hurts me so badly to say this…

But, it’s time for Peyton Manning to retire.

He’s won football games, and playoff games, and a Super Bowl. He’s broken record upon NFL record.

But age and injury and surgery have finally caught up with him. Peyton Manning isn’t the Peyton Manning that I used to know. He may be at times. And his football mind is sharper than ever. But as each season goes on, his laser rocket arm can’t consistently deliver. And there isn’t enough time for his aging body to recover.

Peyton Manning got booed by his own fans in Denver last week. And selfishly, I just can’t stand to see it. I can’t endure a quarterback controversy or listen to screams to bench the future Hall of Famer in favor of someone younger. Not when that quarterback is My Peyton.

He’s got a family now and his health and more money than he can ever spend. And endless opportunities in football. And a fan base back in Indianapolis that aches to welcome him back. And retire his jersey. And build him a statue. And reminisce about the good old days while shedding tears of both joy and sadness…

And end his legendary career right where it began.

I’m coming home

I’m coming home

Tell the world I’m coming home

Let the rain wash away all the pain of yesterday

I know my kingdom awaits and they’ve forgiven my mistakes

I’m coming home, I’m coming home

Tell the world I’m coming…home

Come home, Peyton.

We’re waiting.

XO

Congratulations, Peyton!

Peyton Manning (AAron Ontiveroz/Denver Post)

Peyton Manning
(Photo: AAron Ontiveroz/Denver Post)

Dear Peyton,

Everyone and their mother (including my mother) has asked me if I’m writing about you and your big moment this week. I said yes, but in all honesty…I don’t really know what to say.

Does no one make a card for the guy who breaks an NFL record who used to be your quarterback but isn’t anymore?

The truth of the matter is, I’m happy for you. You’re right where you belong, at the top of your game and at the top of the NFL. As both a former and current fan, I couldn’t be prouder.

Like you, I don’t really get excited about records. Because even though 509 NFL touchdowns is a huge milestone and a big number, all records will eventually be broken. 510? As I was saying…

To me, it was never about the number of touchdowns. It was always about your next touchdown. Because I always knew you had it in you. When others gave up, lost hope, left the game, or went to bed, I knew better. I knew that if you had the ball, my team always had a chance. And a good chance at that.

Numbers will be surpassed, records will be broken, but some things stand the test of time. How you made people feel is one of them. And you always made me feel hopeful. For that, I will always be grateful.

You’re more than a number, Peyton. You’re a legend.

Even if the numbers got you there, it’s the stories that go with them that will keep you here. In my heart. Forever. Long after the numbers (and your number) is retired.

Thanks for the memories.

I didn’t need you to break another record to know you’re the best.

But…

Congratulations anyway!

XO

On love, loss, and homecomings. Peyton’s coming home. And I am a mess.

The heart is a funny thing. It sneaks up on you during the darndest times. You can tell yourself whatever you want in your head. But your heart won’t let you lie.

I was fine. I was good. Better than good…I was great. I was watching the Cowboys – Redskins game on Sunday Night Football. I was thinking about how happy I was that my Colts chose Andrew Luck over Robert Griffin III.

And then, I heard it…Peyton Manning’s voice. Those famous words, “I truly have enjoyed being your quarterback.”

Here we go. Required viewing. Just like the Mayflower vans when the Colts play the Ravens. We’ll be seeing that clip a lot this week. Every day. Multiple times a day. All week. I’ve seen it so many times, it hardly even bothers me anymore.

But what I saw next…I was totally unprepared for. I looked up from my iPad to see Peyton Manning in a Colts jersey. Running onto the field at Lucas Oil Stadium. In slow motion. The words, “I’m coming home…I’m coming home…Tell the world that I’m coming home,” played in the background.

It caught me off guard. I couldn’t breathe. Almost instantly, there were tears. Lots of tears. Running down my face. I kind of gasped and sobbed at the same time.

What was happening?

You know how you think you’re over someone? And then you see them? And you feel like someone hit you with a big old bag of bricks? Like you’ve been knocked off your feet?

That’s what happened to me when I saw the promo for Peyton Manning’s homecoming on Sunday Night Football.

I went into a mini tailspin. Which is weird, because I’m over it. I’m so over him. I’ve moved on. I have Andrew Luck. What more could I ask for?

I feel like I did in high school. When my old boyfriend came home from college and I was happily dating someone else. It’s weird. Especially when your new boyfriend tells your old boyfriend he’s sick of hearing about him all the time.

Yes. That actually happened. I know. But I’m pretty sure it won’t happen this week. That’s not exactly Andrew Luck’s style.

All this time, I’ve been thinking about the game. I’ve been thinking about my team. I’ve been thinking about what I’m going to wear. But, I hadn’t yet pictured what would happen when I saw Peyton Manning back on the field at Lucas Oil Stadium. Until Sunday night.

And all I can tell you is this…

It wasn’t pretty. And I’m going to need waterproof mascara. And I may need counseling.

Damn it, Peyton.

I thought I was over you.

XO

Rocky Mountain Colts fans: “Go horse!”

Peyton Manning Takes the Field in Denver (NY Daily News)

Peyton Manning Takes the Field in Denver (NY Daily News)

When Peyton Manning trots onto the field for his first playoff game as quarterback of the Denver Broncos, he’ll have a legion of fans cheering him on at Mile High Stadium in Denver. He’ll also have a huge fan base in Indianapolis. They are the “Rocky Mountain Colts” fans. And they’ll be cheering him on as well.

A lot has changed for Colts fans since that tearful March breakup with their beloved quarterback. That was the beginning of a complete makeover of their team, from top to bottom. Owner Jim Irsay brought in new management and new coaches. They dismissed veteran talent for talented rookies, including the top draft pick…Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck.

No one expected much from the Colts this season, even their most faithful fans. The season started as many predicted, with a bad loss to the Bears in Chicago. But then, there was a comeback win over the Vikings, followed by a loss to the Jaguars. And the bye week produced another loss, Head Coach Chuck Pagano, to leukemia. The team united and the fans with them. They made #ChuckStrong their mantra, and they won…a total of eleven games. And they made the playoffs.

Colts fans rallied around their new team and sick coach. They provided the energy…for their team to win and their coach to heal. And in the process, they healed themselves.

Make no mistake, Colts fans still love Peyton Manning. Colts fans will always love Peyton Manning. They will never forget what he did for their team and their city. The relationship has changed, but the love remains.

With their team out of the playoffs, Colts fans are just happy to have a horse in the race. They will cheer for Peyton, as if he was still their quarterback, as far as the playoff road takes him. Because call him a Bronco, a Colt, or a Rocky Mountain Colt, the cheer is still the same…

Go horse!

XO