ESPN’s Doug Williams writes that some celebrities grow beyond the lines that mark their field to become local royalty often becoming part of a city’s definition. Chicago had Ernie “Mr. Cub” Banks, St. Louis Stan “The Man” Musial and Miami had Dan Marino. Peyton Manning however may be as important to Indiana as The Boss is to New Jersey:
Though the Giants, who play in New Jersey, just won the Super Bowl, there’s no question who the Boss is in the Garden State. Springsteen, after all, wrote and sang “New Jersey is My Home,” whereas the Giants and Jets still claim “New York” in their titles. In a recent poll, Springsteen’s popularity was so high in-state that he’d likely have a good chance to unseat popular governor Chris Christie. Bruce and his boys had a “12-minute party” performing at Super Bowl XLIII, but Springsteen didn’t pretend to know anything about the Steelers and Cardinals, who were playing in the game. He did, however, call all the shots for the halftime show. “Who decides? The Boss decides,” he told Rolling Stone.
When you think of New Jersey there are only two names that come to mind: Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi. Both are local kids who made it big, stuck to their roots and have been rewarded amply for doing so. Springsteen is so important to the identity of that state that he has become mythical in stature–their own version of Paul Bunyan.
Likewise, Peyton Manning has grown to overshadow nearly every other Indiana celebrity in history. Only Larry Bird’s legacy can compete with that of Manning.