By: John Richardson
“With the first pick of the 1998 NFL Draft, the Indianapolis Colts select quarterback Peyton Manning from the University of Tennessee!” Those words announced by then NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue changed the game of football forever.
Manning went from a Louisiana kid who happened to be the son of a famous football quarterback, to becoming a famous, beloved quarterback himself. Manning is a 5-time NFL MVP, 14-time Pro Bowl Nominee and 2-time Super Bowl Champion with one Super Bowl MVP award. He also holds the record for the most interceptions thrown by a rookie quarterback in his rookie season.
He is a father, a brother, a son and a role model to kids everywhere, including myself.
It all started for me when my mom brought home a couple of Peyton Manning football cards that I still own to this day. From then on I was a hooked Manning fan. The reason I loved Manning’s game so much was because of the way he played it. He was the most focused and prepared player in the history of the NFL in my opinion.
Not once during a game did I see Manning on the sidelines doing anything other than studying plays or talking on the phone to the booth. Manning had a fire about him that I just cannot compare to anyone else. In my opinion, he was and always will be the greatest quarterback of all time. He will always be my favorite player and my inspiration.
Throughout my life I would wait for one season and one day of the week during that season: Sunday! I loved waking up and going to church and then anxiously waiting with friends and family to watch the Indianapolis Colts and their star player Peyton Manning. He was the reason I started loving the game of football.
He taught me to be a good person, a focused athlete and the best that I could be. Even though Manning is a quarterback and it may seem odd that an offensive lineman would see him as his favorite player, I do. I would do anything to block for him and protect him from oncoming defenders. I cannot imagine the thrill his linemen got from blocking for him every week and getting to know him throughout the offseason and season itself.
I know they loved it because he praised his linemen. Without them, he knew he couldn’t make a pass or hand the ball off. That’s one of the things I loved the most: his humbleness. He never took credit for anything, never boasted and never considered himself the best quarterback.
Manning left behind the greatest legacy any NFL player would love to go out on when he decided to retire this year. He finished after 18 seasons, his number was 18. His last season ended with Super Bowl 50 and he and his team won it. Manning, we love you, we will miss you, but we will not forget you. Thank you for the past 18 years that you were a part of my life and all the lives of other fans everywhere.
We all will miss you, number 18.