How to say goodbye

A tape of Peyton Manning’s farewell to Indianapolis yesterday should be required viewing for aging or not-so-aging superstars who find themselves having to say farewell to friends, teammates, fans and an entire city.

Manning got it right, leaving everyone with class, dignity and a lesson in how to say goodbye.

Although acknowledging that there has never been anything quite like it, WFAN’s Mike Francesa today compared Manning’s departure from Indianapolis to LeBron James’ decision to bolt Cleveland for Miami. How each elected to handle their situation, with Manning playing his role as the classy pro and LeBron playing the role of Ryan Leaf, completely devoid of class, dignity or professionalism.

Francesa was dead on. The New York City broadcaster put it best when he said Manning left everyone, even Colts fans, feeling better about themselves. LeBron, when it was his turn, essentially slapped Cavaliers fans and the entire city of Cleveland in the face.

When the NBA star interviewed potential suitors before heading to South Beach, Francesa said he insulted many of those he had rejected. What’s the chance of the Mannings – dad Archie will be involved, too – behaving in the same manner? Zilch.

The only negative to yesterday’s news conference were the little white lies told by Manning and Colts owner Jim Irsay. Manning, who always plans ahead, said he hadn’t given any thought to where he might play next. I watched this guy play ball for 13 seasons. Believe me, he knows where he wants to go but will let everyone have their say, making sure to thank them afterward for making him feel wanted. Irsay said the decision to release Manning had nothing to do with money. It had everything to do with money, Jim.

At the end of Manning’s speech, he addressed Colts fans everywhere. I felt as if he was speaking directly to me.

“Thank you very much from the bottom of my heart,” Manning said. “I truly have enjoyed being your quarterback.”

Over the years, Colts fans like myself have had many moments to enjoy the fruits of our quarterback. A Super Bowl title, two AFC championships, four MVP awards, numerous come-from-behind victories. Terribly disappointing losses too, including many early in the postseason. Throughout everything, Manning always handled the ups and downs with class and dignity.

I was always proud to call Peyton Manning my quarterback. But now I’ll have to call him my ex-quarterback.

Like Manning reminded everyone yesterday: “I guess in life and in sports we all know that nothing lasts forever.”

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6 thoughts on “How to say goodbye

  1. Hall of Famer Norm Van Brocklin played 8 season with the LA RAMS and won one NFL Championship. He was traded to the Philadelphia and won the Championship with the Eagles over Vince Lombardi’s Packers. (last time Eagles won it).

    My Dad served in the NAVY during WWII with Van Brocklin. When ever he was on the east coast, my dad would go see him play or coach and bring him Petrillo’s bread from 4th avenue.
    My dog, Stubby, was named after Van Brocklin (his nickname in the NAVY, before he was called the Dutchman).
    I grew up an Atlanta Falcons fan because Van Brocklin coached the Falcons when i was a little kid. they were horrible. Everybody at the schoolyard would save their Falcons’ cards to trade with me. what a life , growing up being the only Falcon fan in NJ. i could go on lol

    didn’t mean to get off the Manning topic, just made me think that there’s a good chance he wins another title somewhere else before he retires too

    • All those years you were suffering with the Falcons, I was suffering with the Colts — except when they had Bert Jones, maybe my all-time Colts favorite. It gives you a certain perspective and you learn to really appreciate something when you achieve it. Falcons and Colts fans (before Manning) didn’t grow up spoilied!

        • I became a Colts fan in the late 60s when I was just a kid in Manhattan. At that time, the Jets were in the AFL so they didn’t even count to all of the older kids who I looked up to. The Giants had Fran Tarkenton at QB and Tucker Fredrickson at RB, but their glory days were long behind them. A bunch of guys still liked the Giants, but most everyone in my neighborhood was either a Packers or Colts fan, with the odd Browns fan thrown in. It was Johnny Unitas and the horseshoe that won me over. Been with them ever since, through some hard times too, and it looks like I’m in for another rough patch coming up. In Peterstown, I only knew one other Colts fan who stuck with the club. Nicky Netta. Me and Nicky, that was it! He was the first person I thought of when the Colts won Super Bowl XLI.

  2. I saw Peyton Manning (junior) in the fall of 1996 at Knoxville, TN.
    Gators were ranked #4 and Tennessee was ranked #2. At time it was the largest crowd in NCAA history (over 100,000). It was pouring rain and Manning threw 4 INTs and trailed 35-0. He came back to throw nearly 500 yards and 4 TDs but they lost by 6. Gators went on to win National Championship and Wuerfel won Heisman.
    I’ve been a fan of Manning ever since

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