Blog Archives

The Man In The Mirror

Manning1

Take those boots off the shelf
Wipe that dust off yourself
Even if you’ve been through hell
You’re back

The stories have been out there for a couple years now…the process through which Peyton Manning returned to the playing field from the ugly to the triumphant.  They’re all there.  The most striking ones to me have always been that he couldn’t sit himself up in bed after the final surgery and that he watched himself in a mirror throw footballs to re-learn how to pass the ball.  There are millions of stories about athletes rehabbing their way back to play the sport they love.  In fact, there are plenty on the Denver Broncos roster alone.  Peyton’s story is just one of them.

As I watched him walk the sidelines in a polo shirt and khaki pants in Indianapolis during the 2011 season, I wondered if this was the final image we’d ever have of him as a player.  As we learned everything he’d gone through to try to get back on the field just for that season, I wondered if this was the last image we’d ever have of HIM.  Was this going to be what sidelined him for life not just for career? It was scary.  Anytime you mess with the neck, it’s scary, and I don’t mind telling you there was a part of me who wanted to say “just stop. You have a beautiful wife and two amazing children. Live for them. You’ve done enough.”  But saying that to Peyton Manning would be like telling the sun not to rise.

And so it began…his long road back to the top of his game…not just the game of football…but to HIS game of football…the way he plays it.  I love football in all its forms, but if you told me I could only watch one person play football for the rest of my life, I’d ask for a reel of Peyton’s games because I just LOVE the way HE plays football…even in the bad games.  As he was rehabbing and fighting with his nerve damage everyday, I was hoping and praying he’d just be able to play the game, again.  I wanted to see him run out of that tunnel, buckle that chin strap, take that snap, pass that ball.  That’s what I hoped for, dreamed of, wanted.  He wanted more.

He wanted to be a part of a team, again.  He wanted to walk up to the line of scrimmage, cast his vision on the defense, smile to himself, call the perfect play, and eat that opponent alive.  That’s what a competitor does when faced with the challenge of a lifetime.  You stand up and say, “You’re not gonna beat me today.”  So that’s how he found himself in front of a mirror watching himself throw a football because he knew what he was doing wasn’t right, and he needed to see it for himself in order to fix it.

Since his return, I’ve been afraid the last image I would have of him on the football field would be of him lying there unconscious, his fate unknown.  I tried to remind myself that the only thing I wanted after all the surgeries and all the rehab was to see him play football.  The fear gets a little less each step of the way like the half-life of a chemical element, and now I worry about him getting hurt on the average play just like any other player on the field not because of anything in his medical history.  At the same time, these last two seasons have brought me more joy than I ever imagined, and while watching him play is an amazing thrill, learning about his new team has been the icing on the best cake you’ve ever tasted.  Foxy, Champ, DT, Woodyard, Julius, Pot Roast, Manny, Unrein, Knowshon, Bruton, Welker, Prater, Zane…just to name a few…these guys go into battle with Peyton every week.  They each have their own goals and dreams…their own legacies to build, but they each play for the Denver Broncos, and that means something to me…something that came as a great surprise to me this deep into my NFL fandom.  This team…this franchise…this is what it’s meant to be…this is what it’s supposed to feel like.  And I, for one, am grateful to the Broncos for letting me be a fan of it all on their journey to the Super Bowl.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I WANT that Super Bowl tomorrow.  You put a chance at winning the holy grail of the NFL in front of me and I suddenly turn into one of Pavlov’s dogs…one of the more rabid of the litter, in fact.  Still, there have been a lot of articles in recent weeks about Peyton’s legacy and about how winning or losing this game is what his entire career hinges on as if to say his body of work over the entirety of the last 16 seasons has meant nothing.  They’re frustrating to read for someone like me who’s been a fan of his for 20 years.  But wanting that Lombardi Trophy and believing its the only thing that matters when defining a successful career are two completely different things.  In the history of sports, no trophy or championship has made a player or a coach a better player or coach than they were before the game.  They are each the same person with the same talent and competitiveness.  They just happen to have some hardware on the shelf.  But in this day and age of over-analyzing, we pay people to tell you that Peyton Manning is a failure or hasn’t accomplished anything if the Broncos don’t win tomorrow night.

Don’t believe that.  Instead, consider this.  His legacy, to me, is only further cemented every single time he runs out of that tunnel because this is a man who could’ve been one surgery away from not being able to walk, again, much less be able to produce the single greatest statistical season for a quarterback in NFL history.  But proving anything to anyone was never why Peyton worked so hard to get back to the game.  Proving he wasn’t done.  Proving he was up to the challenge and could exceed expectations.  Proving he gets to decide when he’s done.  All of that is and was for the man in the mirror.  He’s got one more thing to prove to that man, and he gets to do that tomorrow night in Super Bowl XLVIII.

United In Orange

Time To Ride

Go Broncos

Oktoberfest ~ Captions Week 5 (Cowboys)

Stressed doesn’t even begin to cover what I was feeling during the entirety of that Broncos/Cowboys game yesterday.  I am eternally grateful for Danny Trevathan and Matt Prater and (because I don’t get to say it often) Peyton Manning’s legs.

After 5 games, Peyton is still on pace to score 64 TDs and pass for 6,028 yards on the season.  And with that win over Dallas, Peyton has now won AT every NFL team. Sure he’d beaten Dallas before, but only at home. He’d never won AT Dallas. And even though he may never have won in Texas Stadium, he’s now at least beaten Dallas IN Dallas (or Arlington technically). Took him 16 years, but he finally did it.

I mean for realz, y’all! Peyton Manning’s rushing TD today is the 18th of his career. That ties him with …. Archie Manning.

ADal Tai Chi

Team T’ai Chi

"WOW...In Jerry's World, it rains footballs!"

“WOW…In Jerry’s World, it rains footballs!”

"Here is the church, here is the steeple, open the doors, and see all the people."

“Here is the church, here is the steeple, open the doors, and see all the people.”

"Hey, Ernie Sims...come and get some of this."

“Hey, Sims…come and get some of this.”

"Ah crap...this is NOT gonna be easy."

“Ah crap…this is NOT gonna be easy. The D looks like they’re on vacation.”

"Hey, y'all...I may have uploaded too much data to the ole computer chip cause my helmet doesn't fit."

“Hey, y’all…I may have uploaded too much data to the ole computer chip cause my helmet doesn’t fit.”

"Hey, ref...I know I've got some guns, but this is NOT a stick up."

“Hey, ref…I know I’ve got some guns, but this is NOT a stick up.”

"Jump, jump...The Mac Dad will make ya Jump Jump...The Daddy Mac will make ya Jump Jump...Kris Kross will make ya Jump Jump."

“Jump, jump…The Mac Dad will make ya Jump Jump…The Daddy Mac will make ya Jump Jump…Kris Kross will make ya Jump Jump.”

"Hi Mom!"

“Hi Mom! How are your seats?”

"If I have to run this ball in myself, heads are gonna roll."

“If I have to run this ball in myself, heads are gonna roll.”

"Ha! Ha! I fooled ya."

“Ha! Ha! I fooled ya.”

Lord of the dance.

Lord of the dance.

"Child, please."

“Child, please.”

"Hey, coach...look what I found."

“Hey, coach…look what I found.”

"Good job, Danny.  You didn't fumble it this time."

“Good job, Danny. You didn’t fumble it this time.”

"Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo."

“Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo.”

Good thing Britton Colquitt is also the holder or he wouldn't have even needed to dress out for this game.

Good thing Britton Colquitt is also the holder or he wouldn’t have even needed to dress out for this game.

"Yeah...I did that."

“Yeah…I did that.”

"Peyton, You wouldn't have any way of knowing this, so I'm just gonna let you know, that rushing TD is gonna hurt in the morning, so go ahead and take an extra day off to rest."

“Peyton, You wouldn’t have any way of knowing this, so I’m just gonna let you know, that rushing TD is gonna hurt in the morning. Go ahead and take an extra day off to rest those old bones.”

 

When September Ends ~ Captions Week 4 (Eagles)

I flipped through the pictures after the Philly game, and wasn’t particularly inspired.  Then one day after another happened, and I never gave it a second chance.  Finally got around to it when I was going through the pictures from the Dallas game (Post coming shortly), and got a little inspiration.  Better late than never.

Dear Santa, I'm gonna need one of these.

Dear Santa, I’m gonna need one of these…

Or one of these.

…Or one of these.

"So what we do when Peyton is watching film alone is we start messing with the volume in the control room.  Up and down...up and down.  Drives him batty."

“So what we do when Peyton is watching film alone is we start messing with the volume in the control room. Up and down…up and down. Drives him batty.”

"Those poles aren't the only thing about to be on fire."

“Those poles aren’t the only thing about to be on fire.”

"Is that Rocky and Bullwinkle on those play calling posters?"

“Is that Rocky and Bullwinkle on those play calling posters?  Wait…are those play calling posters in a NFL game?! LEARN YOUR PLAYBOOK!”

"Catch me if you can...or don't."

“Catch me if you can…or don’t.”

"These are my people."

“These are my people.”

Went to a football game and a game of leap frog broke out...

Went to a football game and leap frog broke out…

...And a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock...

…And Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock…

...And a game of bowling...STRIKE!

…And bowling…STRIKE!  The Broncos do it ALL!

NEXXXXXXXXXXXXXXT

NEXXXXXXXXXXXXXXT

"Y - M - C - A"

“Y – M – C – A”

Getting Warmed Up ~ Captions Week 3 (Raiders)

"Do we really have to play these clowns?"  "Yep...twice."

“Do we really have to play these clowns?”
“Yep…twice.”

"So I've tried every other type of kick.  I'm thinking about booming one off my knee next time."

“So I’ve tried every other type of kick. I’m thinking about booming one off my knee next time.”

"So after you widen your stance and spread your arms, you get LOW."

“So after you widen your stance and spread your arms, you get LOW.”

"For the last time, we do NOT use the wildcat formation."

“For the last time, we do NOT use the wildcat formation.”

"I want you."

“I want you.”

"Ah...nasty...is this last week's Gatorade?"

“Ah…nasty…is this last week’s Gatorade?”

"It's about freaking time you showed up. I mean we're 3 games deep, man."

“It’s about freaking time you showed up. I mean we’re 3 games deep, man.”

"Hmmm...that's odd...they're not supposed to have the ball when I'm out here on the field."

“Hmmm…that’s odd…they’re not supposed to have the ball when I’m out here on the field.”

"Does this qualify as planking?"

“Does this qualify as planking?”

"Did you see that tweak in their coverage there?  That was film number 33 we watched on Tuesday at the 15:22 mark."

“Did you see that tweak in their coverage there? That was film number 33 we watched on Tuesday at the 15:22 mark.”

"Way to go...you stole one from Peyton."

“Way to go…you stole one from Peyton.”

"I done told ya once already...if you wanna play with the big boys you gotta bring your A game."

“I done told ya once already…if you wanna play with the big boys you gotta bring your A game.”

"Welcome back, Eric. Not really sure who was wearing your uniform until now."

“Welcome back, Eric. Not really sure who was wearing your uniform until now.”

 

Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? ~ Captions Week 2 (Giants)

"Walk like an Egyptian."

“Walk like an Egyptian.”

"I wanna soak up the son."

“I’m gonna soak up the sun. Got my 45 on so I can rock on.”

"Back up ladies. I know you all want a piece of Eric, but you're gonna have to get in line."

“Back up ladies. I know you all want a piece of Eric, but you’re gonna have to get in line.”

"Someone call the equipment guy. We're stuck, again."

“Someone call the equipment guy. We’re stuck, again.”

"Shake it to the left. Shake it to the right. Do the hippy shake shake with all of your might."

“Shake it to the left. Shake it to the right. Do the hippy shake shake with all of your might.”

"Alright...one more time. But if you don't get the sprinkler this time, I give up trying to teach you."

“Alright…one more time. But if you don’t get the sprinkler this time, I give up trying to teach you.”

"The fish was THIS BIG."

“The fish was THIS BIG.”

"No, Peyton. It was THIS BIG."

“No, Peyton. It was THIS BIG.”

"Eeny...meeny...miney...moe...which receiver should I go to."

“Eeny…meeny…miney…moe…which receiver should I go to.”

"This turf tastes funny. Really hope this isn't the stuff Les Miles says he eats."

“This turf tastes funny. Really hope this isn’t the stuff Les Miles says he eats.”

"Good job, little buddy. Maybe you'll graduate to the adult table at Thanksgiving after all."

“Good job, little buddy. Maybe you’ll graduate to the adult table at Thanksgiving after all.”

"Oompa Loompa, do-ba-dee-doo, I’ve got a perfect puzzle for you. Oompa Loompa, do-ba-dee-dee, If you are wise you’ll listen to me."

“Oompa Loompa, do-ba-dee-doo, I’ve got a perfect puzzle for you. Oompa Loompa, do-ba-dee-dee, If you are wise you’ll listen to me.”

"That's the guy Eli says picks on him all the time in practice."

“That’s the guy Eli says picks on him all the time in practice.”

Umm...I got nothin'

HANDS

Umm...I got nothin', still.

HANDS, AGAIN

"Yo momma."

“Yo momma.”

"What did you say about my momma?"

“What did you say about my momma?”

"Seriously?! Y'all givin' up already."

“Seriously?! Y’all givin’ up already.”

"And then the ref was all like TOUCHDOWN."

“And then the ref was all like TOUCHDOWN…Guys…Guys…I wasn’t finished with my story.”

"Sheesh, Eli...ain't nobody watching YOU play football on their phone."

“Sheesh, Eli…ain’t nobody watching YOU play football on their phone.”

"Are you not enter-TAINED?!"

“Are you NOT enter-TAINED?!”

"Look on the bright side, brother...you threw more passes to the Broncos in the endzone than I did."

“Look on the bright side, brother…you threw more passes to the Broncos in the endzone than I did.”

"Hey, Rog...whadya say I bring my boys back here to play on February 2nd?"

“Hey, Rog…whadya say I bring my boys back here to play on February 2nd?”

Peyton’s Master Class ~ Captions Week 1 (Ravens)

There are no words…NO WORDS…to appropriately explain how much I enjoyed Thursday night’s game…well ok…Thursday night’s second half mostly, but still.  I wish I could say, at this point…20 seasons in, that nothing about Peyton surprises me anymore, but then something like Thursday night happens and he shocks the hell out off me…AGAIN!   So, all I can do is continue to relive it.

"Oh shoot...I think it's stuck."

“Oh shoot…I think it’s stuck.”

ONE

ONE

TWO

TWO

THREE (I kinda felt sorry for Andre cause he only got to catch one TD)

THREE (I kinda felt sorry for Andre cause he only got to catch one TD)

FOUR

FOUR

FIVE

FIVE

SIX

SIX

Lucky Number SEVEN

Lucky Number SEVEN

Damn straight

Damn straight

Close, lady, but it was only 7...not 10.  Maybe next time.

Close, lady, but it was only 7…not 10. Maybe next time.

"I really hope you weren't expecting that to go any differently, Coach Harbaugh.  Maybe that'll teach the NFL not to put an opposing player's face on our stadium."

“I really hope you weren’t expecting that to go any differently, Coach Harbaugh. Perhaps that’ll teach the NFL not to put an opposing player’s face on our stadium.”

Butterflies

peyton tunnel

In less than an hour, Peyton Manning will run out of the tunnel at Mile High in Denver, CO, and my stomach will feel like a butterfly conservatory is inside it.  It’s a little bit nerves, a little bit excitement, a little bit fear, and a little bit thankfulness.  In other words, a WHOLE LOT of emotion.  The fact that I am obsessed with him is not lost on me, but what matters to me is owning who I am, and there is no way I could honestly be myself and not include Peyton.  Since the fall of 1994, I have eagerly anticipated not just football season, but football season with Peyton Manning.  So, when we get to the beginning of a new season, my excitement grows because that’s the way I like to watch football…through him…through his eyes…through his game.  That’s the football I know…every down…every route…every movement.  And before you ask, no, I do not know every audible…that would require far more intelligence than I possess.

For 95% of the last 19 seasons, that’s the way I’ve enjoyed football season.  Truthfully, that one season he didn’t play, I got to see football through his eyes as he stood on the sidelines, but that was excruciatingly NOT joyful.  Now, last season…whoa…last season was some of the most fun I’ve had in his entire career.  Maybe it was the new venue with the new fans and the new players and coaches…all whom I love and adore!  Or maybe it was just a little bit of satisfaction getting to watch him stick it to every person who said he was finished…himself included.  More than likely it was getting to revisit that joy I got all those years ago when I saw him play for the first time.  It was a new start, and I ate it up!

As we barrel head first towards the end of his career, I find myself savoring…cherishing…every second we have left even more so than I already did.  There is no telling when this all might actually end, so I want to appreciate it while I have it instead of the way we too often do: after it’s gone.  I recognized to some degree how much I took him for granted before the neck surgeries.  I expected him to show up on my TV screen on Sundays in the fall without question like he was immortal, and when that immortality came into question, that was a tougher pill to swallow than I care to admit.  It made me appreciate even more the longevity of his career thus far as well as some of the players who came before him who had equally long careers.  It’s not easy to do what he has done for as long as he has done it, and I hope to remind myself of that as often as possible for as long as possible.

Season #20 starts tonight, and that, my friends, is worth every butterfly in my stomach.

Last Shot ~ Captions Preseason Game 4

Three days…THREE DAYS…til kickoff of the 2013 NFL regular season.  I’m only a little bit excited.

Here are some final photo captions from the Preseason.  Enjoy!

It's Peyton's live "Picture of Dorian Gray."

I knew it all along.  Peyton has his very own “Picture of Dorian Gray.”

"Hold still! You got an eye lash."

“Hold still! You got an eye lash.”

"Hey, girl."

“Hey, girl.”

"Cause this is THRILLERRRRRR, thriller night...And no one's gonna save you from the beast about to strike..."

“Cause this is THRILLERRRRRR, thriller night…And no one’s gonna save you from the beast about to strike…”

Final Dress Rehearsal ~ Captions Preseason Game #3

So it’s not the final preseason game, but the 3rd game is always the one when the starters play the longest, and typically they don’t even dress for the 4th game.  The 4th game is basically for the coaches to round out the roster and decide who to cut for the 53 man roster.

Even still, slim pickings on the inspirational photos this time around, but we did get the “W.”

"Here, take this ball and tuck it in your jersey.  If the Rams fumble, use it and pretend you fell on the live ball. It'll confuse the heck out of the refs, but it just might work in our favor."

“Here, take this ball and tuck it in your jersey. If the Rams fumble, pull it out and pretend you fell on the live ball. It’ll confuse the heck out of the refs, but it just might work in our favor.”

"Feel the burn."

“Feel the burn.”

"I got $20 says they don't need to wash our uniforms after this.  You in?"

“I got $20 says they don’t need to wash our uniforms after this. You in?”

Luckiest water in the universe!

Luckiest water in the universe!

Hot Potato ~ Captions Preseason Game #2

Denver flew out to Seattle for probably one of the most expensive games of hot potato ever.  Let’s just hope those ball carriers get over their butterfinger ways before the games start that actually count.

"Hey, gurl...How you doin'?"

“Hey, gurl…How you doin’?”

"Hey, Clady, I got a surprise for you.  Pick a hand...any hand."

“Hey, Clady, I got a surprise for you. Pick a hand…any hand.”

"Oh hey look at that...a $2 coupon off Gatorade.  Score!"

“Oh hey look at that…a $2 off coupon for Gatorade. Score!”

"Now listen Ronnie.  When you get the ball, you need to hold onto it.  Don't let go of it until you hear the whistle."

“Now listen Ronnie. When you get the ball, you need to hold onto it. Don’t let go of it until you hear the whistle.”

"What was it Peyton said? Oh yeah...drop the ball in the end zone.  Wait...that's not right.  Oh crap...where's the ball?!"

“What was it Peyton said? Oh yeah…drop the ball in the end zone. Wait…that’s not right. Oh crap…where’s the ball?!”

"Oh yeah...I make this look good."

“Oh yeah…I make this look good.”

"Outta my way...Oompa Loompa Coming Through."

“Outta my way…Oompa Loompa Coming Through.”