He’s Just Gone

There was a spate of articles in the Star recently about what Peyton is up to.

I didn’t read them.

It felt strange and foreign to overtly ignore news about someone that I cared so much about, a player whose every move was of daily interest to me for more than a decade.

At some point, I stopped in and tried to scan one of them, but that felt even more strange.

It probably sounds stupidly obvious, but it just dawned on me that Peyton is gone.

I’ve known he was gone. I watched the presser. I saw him sign with the Broncos. I watched the draft.

Still, somehow, it had never quite registered until he started actually practicing with the Broncos.

He’s gone.

 

Peyton’s still around, I suppose. That’s really Peyton Manning playing for the Broncos, throwing passes to Stokely and Tamme in mile-high air. None of that changes the fact that he’s gone.

Whoever (whatever?) that replicant in orange and blue is, he’s not Peyton Manning. At least, he’s not my Peyton Manning. Not anymore.

Apparently, scores of readers gave Mke Chappell crap for the Star writing about Peyton. While I don’t understand that specific reaction, I do understand why those people had some reaction, misguided though it was. The stories, the photos, the videos were all terribly unnerving. People are going to be raw about Manning leaving for some time.

I didn’t say angry. I said raw.

Peyton is an open nerve. Drafting Andrew Luck may eventually prove to heal whatever wounds the Colts inflicted on the fanbase when they let Manning walk, but until Luck actually suits up and throws a few touchdowns and God-willing wins a few games, there won’t be any real progress. Seeing and hearing about Manning in Denver will continue to irritate people around here. They won’t always even know why.

My dad said, “People don’t watch sports to be depressed.”

He’s right.

When they pick up the paper or click on Sports Center, they want to escape the real world of pink slips, break-ups, illness and pain for a few minutes. They don’t want to have to watch or read about Peyton anymore. Many would rather pretend he’s dead than accept the truth that Uncle Jimmy sent him to go live on a farm with a new family and a big field where he can live out his remaining years running and playing in the sun with his friends.

Fans don’t care about Peyton’s happiness; we care about our own.

I’m still processing what it means that those brilliant quotes and quips serve someone else’s team. Forget the audibles and the touchdowns and the comebacks for a momonet. I can’t come close to dealing with that. I’m still trying get over the fact that when he says something witty to a reporter, that he’s not trying to entertain Colts fans. Who knows? Maybe he is somewhere inside, but somehow, I don’t find it entertaining anymore.

I still don’t know what to do with my alliengce to a man who did so much for my city. I feel like a voyer if I read those articles about his rapport with new receivers, and I feel like a coward if I don’t. I talk about him like he’s gone from this terrestial plaine. As Luke and I would joke last year, “At least Peyton isn’t alive to see this…”.

Only he is alive. And he’s still playing.

He’s just…

gone.

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