Ranting

A Bit More Super

February 4th, 2016

So my friend Bob’s friend was a former UT receiver and he’d gotten us the tickets to UT’s first scrimmage in pads that season, the chance to check out this new quarterback recruit everybody was talking about. I’d rushed over there straight from helping my daughter move into her apartment on campus. I didn’t want to be late because I knew we’d get to meet players. After visiting for a bit, Bob’s friend took him aside and whispered, “Bob, Dan seems like a nice guy but he’s higher than a kite. The inside of his nose is solid white.”

You see, I’d been spray-painting Hallie’s louvered closet doors all morning and evidently breathing in the white mist.

That was the day I met Peyton Manning, that hot new freshman quarterback.

It was just paint, Peyton. Swear to God.

As published in The Memphis Daily News, February 5, 2016, and in The Memphis News, February 6-12, 2016

Peytons Helmet

CARE ABOUT THE GAME.

I’m a homer.

I can’t watch a sporting event for the beauty of the game, the spirit of the competition, the skill displayed on both sides. I want somebody’s butt kicked and for good reason.

Passes need to be dropped, assignments missed, quarterbacks sacked, kicks blocked, referees blinded and coaches ripping off headsets on the sidelines.

All in favor of my team

Whatever the contest, I look for something to make it mean something, to tie it to my life, my family, my school – to bring it home to my city – to make it personal.

To illustrate my point, I was visiting recently with my old friend, Marsha, about old times and grandkids. We went to college together. She was the sweetheart of my college fraternity and I've never forgotten how nice she was to a skinny, clueless freshman. I’ve even forgiven her for marrying a guy from the fraternity next door.

Our daughters knew each other in high school, and married guys that went to Tennessee, our alma mater.

Her son-in-law and the father of her twin grandchildren is Peyton Manning. That makes the Super Bowl local.

Every time he takes a snap, with every “Omaha”, I remember the kid I met when he was a freshman at his first scrimmage in pads. At the time, I was with my late college roommate and best friend. That makes it personal. Peyton was the quarterback when my daughter was in college, has a degree in communications from UT like she does, like my son does, like I do. That makes it family.

My son-in-law spent his childhood in Boston, and although he’s a UT grad, too, he’s as Boston as Fenway and Gillette in his pro loyalty. But last week in the playoffs, he was for Peyton. Because the game matters more this time. Because it was probably Peyton’s last playoff and his final Omaha will probably be the Super Bowl.

If you’re a U of M fan, you have a stake, too. After all, you beat UT with Peyton Manning under center, so your victory grows in legend with every one of his wins and continues to mark local calendars. Memphian Michael Oher – he of Briarcrest, “The Blind Side” and Ole Miss – will be protecting Cam Newton for Carolina, if you need yet another hometown connection.

Some sports columnist wrote last week that the playoff game between the Patriots and the Broncos featured “probably the two best quarterbacks of their generation.” Probably? Of their generation?

Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are the best ever. Period. And one of them may be putting a period on his piece of history at that position this week.

Did I mention that he’s married to a Memphis girl? I know her people.

The reason we don’t get involved in the game that’s being played all around us is because we don’t find reasons to care enough about what happens.

I'm a Memphian, and for me, it starts and ends right here.

 

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