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

13 comments

  1. Troy says:

    I’ve watched this guy since his freshman year at Tennessee in 1994. He looked like a baby when he took the field in relief of Jerry Colquitt who got injured in the game. From that point on Peyton never looked back. He took the reigns at Tennessee and became a legend. His name hangs from the rafters at Neyland Stadium alongside Reggie White and Doug Atkins. The locker room is named after him and the street that players walk down on gameday to the stadium is Peyton Manning Pass. The only name bigger at Tennessee is General Neyland himself.

    From that point on you know the rest. He did at Indianapolis what he did at Tennessee: Took the reigns and never looked back.

    Unbeknownst to me at the time I got to see his last game as a Colt at Lucas Oil Stadium. My one and only NFL game I’ve ever attended. Irony at it’s finest.

    The day he was cut I bawled my eyes out. Jim Irsay had to do the unthinkable: Cut Peyton Manning. He had no choice. Andrew Luck’s don’t come around very often and Irsay knew it.

    In the end it was a win/win. The Colts got Andrew Luck and Peyton signed with the Broncos.

    Peyton will retire at some point and five years later he will go into the Hall of Fame……as an Indianapolis Colt.

  2. Jennifer says:

    This is so true!!! It will be so hard to see him as a Bronco; it’s easy to watch on TV, but in LOS…no way! My husband and I had an argument about what he would wear to next weeks game. He is wearing his Colts Manning jersey….I don’t think it is right but I understand.

  3. Christopher Price says:

    If you were to ask anyone about who I am as a person, I’d almost guarantee the first few responses would be something to the tune of sarcastic, witty, funny and downright smartass – I’m ok with this, I’ve earned it. I am very rarely one to take much of anything too seriously, smiling and cracking wise to sort of play particular circumstances in my life off; very rarely do I let people in, and those who I do know that it’s always few and far between, if at all.

    In reading your step-by-step emotions, a sense of disbelief came over me. I knew what was coming before I read it, line after line, paragraph after paragraph. I have yet to say a word about Peyton Manning returning to Indianapolis because I felt the national media’s spotlight would be all over it. The truth of the matter is, I write for a handful of NFL-affiliated websites, mostly all covering the team I was raised upon – our Indianapolis Colts. In saying that, I feel like I’ve heard and seen it all. Nothing really shocks or surprises me, and if it does, I’m not one to let it be known.

    Which brings me back to the emotion I felt when watching Sunday Night Football alone at home a few short days ago. When seemingly out of nowhere, I heard Peyton force through his tears to mutter those words I’ve heard replayed over and over again, “I truly have enjoyed being your quarterback.” **Cue the music**

    It was at this point that I stopped tweeting about the mundane game at hand, very slowly looked up at my television (“I’m coming home… I’m coming home… tell the world that I’m coming home.”) when an absolute rush of emotion took over my entire body – I was completely and utterly helpless against what was happening. I had gotten chills from the bottoms of my feet to the top of my head. I then unknowingly began staring blankly through my television while still managing to grasp the message. My eyes welling with more tears than I could even begin to explain, leaving me in a state of disbelief about what had taken over me in just a few short moments via a sole soundbite and a few random clips I’ve already seen a thousand times over.

    Do I think Peyton Manning is the greatest quarterback I have or will ever see in my lifetime? Absolutely. Do I feel Jim Irsay and the Indianapolis Colts organization made the right decision by cutting Manning free? Without a doubt. From a business standpoint and logistically, it simply didn’t make sense to throw that kind of money at someone who could have quite possibly never played another down in the NFL again. But, that’s not what I am here to discuss. I’m here to explain how and why more emotion went throughout my entire body than had in years… out of the absolute blue.

    You see, when I think of Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts, I tend to toss out the Speed Blue facemasks and Puma embossed jerseys; I always tend to gravitate more towards the middle and latter years of Manning’s career with the Colts – when only first names were needed to know who we were as a city, as a team, and most importantly, as a family. It speaks volumes on how close we were when one can simply give first names like: Peyton, Marvin, Reggie, Edgerrin, Joseph, Dallas and Dwight and with a sort of muscle memory not have to think twice about who is being talked about. To be honest, most of us could even go down the line listing their numbers off of their backs in the same way: 18, 88, 87, 32, 29, 44, 93. That’s special.

    But, enough stalling… the real reason that clip shook me to my core was for so many personal reasons that I would never normally share with a soul. It was 2009-10, I was married, had a great career, beyond financially secure and the absolute happiest I had ever been up to that point or since, to be frank. Each and every Sunday was spent either at our seats in the stadium or lazily around the house. We were a great team and I honestly had a great life.

    Since then, particular things from my past have dissipated and I have moved on in my own way. That is until last Sunday night, at that very moment, when I fully realized how much I had suppressed and forced down in an attempt to hide all of my emotions away instead of facing them.

    So again, as the music began to play and Skylar Grey’s voice whispered out words in regards to “coming home” while at the same time watching Peyton Manning with that bold Captain’s “C” sewn upon his chest and the team we all had grown to adore follow closely behind and take the field in slow-motion, an absolute surge took over my entire body and the only words to even remotely expresses the way I felt in those brief moments are simply… paralyzed and numb. Staring blankly through a television as if to look into the depths of my very being, seeing my past in perfect 20/20 vision, as we all do each and every day. Memories of those years shooting through my head from good to better to best, knowing that time heals everything and my mind not allowing one bit of negativity to pass through. It was as if I was watching a movie on the amazing parts of my life. I didn’t want it to stop before, I don’t know if I can take it stopping again.

    I’d say another 10-15 minutes passed after the clip had aired where I was still sitting, mouth agape, having not moved an inch, nor wanting to for that matter. I slowly turned the game off, not caring about anything else but the fact that it had taken me so long to actually face what I knew all along had been going on somewhere deep within. I slowly laid back, placed my headphones on and let The Appleseed Cast’s “A Dream For Us” play me to sleep.

    Thank you Peyton for all you’ve done for this city. Thank you NBC for a truly amazing promo. Thank you Heather Lloyd for your palpable writing gift. And most importantly, thank you God for finally forcing me to face the demons I would have never faced on my own.

    Go, Horse.

  4. Susan Hill says:

    I have to stop reading this! It kills me every time! One of your best stories ever Heather. Peyton would have been lucky to have known you when he was a Colt but now Andrew Luck can enjoy the benefits. So proud once again,

    Mom

  5. micah halpert says:

    Andrew Luck will never be Peyton Manning! For those who think this was the right decision, I think you are wrong. So many things have to fall in place to win a SB and I would much rather roll the dice with Peyton for the next 5 years, than Luck for 15. Irsay can complain about Peyton’s postseason failures, but Peyton always carried an otherwise 2 win team to a #1 or #2 seed. I think it is a tribute to Peyton that the yr they won he didn’t play well. They had special teams, a run game and a defense. Something he never had in Indy. I have moved on too! To Denver!!! I have a closet full of Colts jerseys and I could care less. I would follow #18 to the depths of hell…i love that man!

  6. Angi Strahl says:

    I grew up in the suburbs of Indy and now live outside DC. When I meet another COLTS fan or see a BLUE HORSESHOE, I get goosebumps. There are more of me out here. This week is hard for me, I get teased daily about Peyton. I cried when he made the announcement, wore black, as I was in mourning. Sunday night I am sure to have some tissues handy.

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