MUST READ: Thanks for the memories

Largely I’d like to avoid linking too many Peyton Manning stories as there’s little value I can add to this situation. It hurts. The future is somewhat bleak. Some of you are confused, even angry with the situation. There are a million people offering their views, condolences and prognostications. You don’t need my two cents to figure this out.

Still, I found Rick Reilly’s memories of Peyton Manning to be among the most poignant and perhaps relevant amidst the slew of those attempting to salute Peyton Manning:

You played a violent game and yet somehow held on to that southern gentility. In the middle of the worst time of your life, you took the time to write a hand-written note of sympathy last week to Fox’s Chris Myers upon the death of his son.

Thank you for showing up at podiums in your shoulder pads some nights because you knew some of us had early deadlines. 

Thank you for showing up to work every day, every week, season after season. You started 208 straight games — through purple thumbs and black eyes and stomach flus that left you green. You get paid either way, so thanks.

Lastly, thank you for the way you left. Always thought you’d go out as a Colt, and go out the way you wanted, but if it had to end this way, “I truly have enjoyed being your quarterback” is as good an exit line as I’ve heard. You made it sound like it was an elected position, an honor, a job where you knew people were depending on you. You were right.

It’s an incredibly humble look at Peyton’s career and impact on the lives he touched. For a man of such incredible proportions his ability and willingness to share personal moments, humility and appreciation for the human condition is unfathomable. Those of us with no celebrity whatsoever struggle to show the kind of grace and human decency that a man who by most standards could get away with outright crimes showed in one of life’s most painful professional moments. Reilly captures that side of Manning without flaw.

Todd Smith

About Todd Smith

Todd Smith is a part-time sportswriter who spends too much time arguing on Twitter. What he really loves is eating poorly and watching football. He got his first Colts t-shirt in 1984 shortly after the Mayflower trucks arrived and has never given up on his hometown team. He also still holds to the belief that Kordell Stewart stepped out of the end zone and thus cheated the Colts.