Is this a Vikings story? Not in the least. But sometimes something outside of the Minnesota Vikings happens that's so amazing that you really just have to share it regardless.
Seriously, join me after the leap of faith for something truly mind-blowing about this guy.
Peyton Manning is obviously well-renowned for a variety of reasons. He's possibly the greatest quarterback to have ever played the game. (There is seriously a legit argument for him to win the MVP this year, IMO.) He's a great team leader, a great community guy, well respected and liked both inside and outside the realm of football. And of course, he is a master of the ad spot. Seriously, there are only three groups of people I can think of that would dislike Peyton Manning:
1.) Fans of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, and Houston Texans. (And even they must have at least some respect for the guy, even if he is the bane of their mutual existences.)
2.) Die-hard fans of Tom Brady.
3.) Fans of Mike Vanderjagt. (As in, Mike Vanderjagt's mom.)
Late last season as we are all well aware, Manning had the misfortune of suffering a neck injury that has relegated him to the sidelines/ operating table, and has put his entire career in jeopardy- which is a true tragedy in every sense of the word. And if it is the end of his career, by G-d should they do a special exemption for the mandatory waiting period regarding his entrance into the Hall of Fame.
And of course as we are all well aware, the Indianapolis Colts have... well, suuuuucked without him. Even before Miami's win yesterday, the Colts were still very much on the inside track for the #1 pick in the draft thanks to the fact that Miami had, I believed, still outscored them something about 100-10 in the games they had played. Ergo, the Colts are by and far the most likely team to land Andrew Luck.
Now, Manning would be within certain rights to complain a little about the situation. I mean, quite frankly, I think some of the things being said are silly. Tony Dungy, whom I have a ton of respect for (met him once too- cool guy, really) even said the Colts should trade Manning should they get Andrew Luck. And Dungy and Manning have always had a strong relationship. But Manning does not complain one bit. In fact, he even ripped Phil Simms for breaking down Luck some (which was awesome, by the way, for the mere fact that Simms got ripped a new one). It must have been at least partially tempting for Manning to go, "yeah, I think Simms got it right- I'm not entirely sure this guy is necessarily all he's cracked up to be". I mean, we are discussing Manning's potential replacement- and, as some are suggesting, not a replacement in a few years: a replacement perhaps for next season.
But Manning has been pure class about the whole situation. However, there is something else I just found out recently that absolutely blew my mind, and took my already enormous respect for Manning to a new level, a level of esteem I'm not entirely sure I've ever held any sports figure in before.
If you recall, after the lockout Peyton was signed to a new contract. He did the cool thing by disregarding the matter until the offseason, rather than let it become a potential distraction last season. Then he did something even cooler: rather than take the chance to "one up" his arch nemesis Tom Brady by getting the bigger contract, he agreed down to one that matched Brady's. (Mind you, it's not exactly chump change regardless.)
Here's something you maybe didn't know, however. And it's insane. When Peyton Manning negotiated his new contract, it in reality wasn't a five year contract.
It was a one-year contract with a clause allowing the Colts to extend him for more years this offseason.
Because when he signed it... he was injured and wasn't sure he would be available again after this year.
So he negotiated the contract to, if necessary, allow the Colts to cut all ties with him and be on the hook... for nothing.
Think about that for a second. Peyton Manning, in his contract negotiations... actually ensured that he took care of his team over himself. That's just absurd- in an amazingly awesome way. Contract negotiations are the one time even the ultimate team player is supposed to become a "me" person. Football is, for those actively involved be it players or management, a business. Sidney Rice (and mind you this is all hypothetical, but I still strongly believe it) feared that his health would not hold up for the long haul, and therefore jumped at the biggest contract he could land so as to be secured financially. (Seriously. No other reason in the world to choose Tavaris Jackson and the Seahawks over Christian Ponder and the Vikings- he knew, McNabb or not, Ponder was the future.) And while we really want to blast him for it, it's still hard to do once you think about it- because it's essentially the same thing we would all do.
Peyton Manning, I'm sure, didn't and doesn't need another dime for the rest of his life. I'm sure with the whole ‘quarterback' pay and all, with the surely insane amount of ad revenue on top of it, he's set for a few lifetimes, and his family too. And unlike some players who end up taking care of their extended family (like parents, siblings, etc.), Manning's family is also pretty secure. That said, it's still highly impressive that rather than chase the almighty dollar- and he was fully within rights to do so- he still, in that again "me" time he's supposed to have, put team over self.
This of course on top of all the other amazing things he's done for the Colts organization has put him in his own echelon, IMO. And if last season were indeed his last (I'm struggling to find the words to describe how tragic that would be), the Colts organization has been truly, truly blessed to have had him as a part of it for as long as they have. In today's NFL, I'm not sure any other organization, today or in recent years past, can point to any other individual on their playing roster who has been so good to it.
Skol, Peyton Manning. As a die-hard fan of another team, let me be the first to say I am still hoping that you can retake the field sooner rather than later. Because by G-d, do you deserve it.