Now that I’m almost a week removed from the event, my legs have stopped shaking, and I’m slowly coming down from cloud 9, I think I can tell you all the back story that helped make a more than decade long dream possible.
I couldn’t tell many people about this event because I wasn’t technically supposed to know about it, and I was afraid I would jinx it if I told too many people. Everyone was super nice as expected and I even got to joke with Peyton.
A reception was scheduled for the key members of the Colts organization: Jim Irsay, Bill Polian, Tony Dungy, and Peyton Manning. Even the NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was there. I recognized him from the back of his head. Yep…I love football that much that I can recognize the commissioner from behind. I was informed of the reception through some of the people I work with. So I emailed the sponsoring office of the reception to ask if there was anything they could do to get me invited. My contact passed it on to someone who could help me in the office, and I conversed back and forth with that person until he emailed me during the reception to come on over and duck my head in.
I walked into the room and couldn’t quite believe that those men were in that room with me. I spoke with Tony first and it was as if I’d known him for years. He was just that personable. I was shaking when we took the picture together. My legs felt like they were going to buckle underneath me. He was so incredibly nice and truly interested in what I had to say, which was a lot of congratulations, thanks for being the role model that he is, and about my having grown up in Florida where he still has a home. He even said he fishes in my hometown sometimes.
After that I took my picture with Mr. Lombardi (the trophy). Then, I was kind of milling around to try and get a chance to meet Peyton, but he was having conversations with the important people in the room, so I didn’t want to interrupt him. But every time he moved to a different location it was away from me and not towards me. At one point, Jim Irsay was standing right next to me, so I introduced myself to him and told him congratulations and that, in my opinion, he is the best owner in the league. Then I said, I’ve been working my way towards Peyton but haven’t gotten a chance to speak with him. So Jim Irsay calls him over and introduces me to him. Yes that’s right…the owner of the Colts introduced me to Peyton Manning. I think that may have very well been the highlight. I spoke to Peyton and told him that I’d been a fan of his since he went to college which was difficult since I went to Alabama…and he said he’d forgive me for that. So I actually got him to joke with me. He was just plain super nice…and REALLY TALL! I mean I know he’s 6’5″, but seriously…that guy is big. He leaned down to look me in the eye the whole time I was talking to him…ok so it was like 30 seconds, but still. My only regret is that I wasn’t clear headed enough to ask him the one question I’ve always wanted to ask him: what exactly goes through his mind, what does he think about during those 40 seconds between the end of a play and the snap of the ball for the next play? Oh well…guess I’ll just have to ask him that next time I see him. 🙂
After taking my picture with Peyton, I thanked the person who had gotten me in and I left the reception. My legs shook all the way back to my office, and I had the best grin on my face and tears in my eyes. As far as having my silly dreams come true, this has just been the best year of my life…and it’s only May.
P.S. 9 weeks and 4 days until Colts Training Camp!