By Galen Holley/NEMS Daily Journal
For weeks folks around the newsroom asked me if Peyton would make it back in time. Of course, I said. He leaves nothing to chance. He’s had this all planned out. He’ll play in the opener.
Then, he didn’t.
A minor miscalculation, I said. When it comes to backs and necks, nobody knows anything, really.
Now, I’m not so sure.
Something doesn’t feel right. I shouldn’t take silence to mean that the prognosis is bleak, but something about this whole thing troubles me.
My admiration of Peyton Manning started while my wife and I lived in Indianapolis. He was all over town – billboards, t-shirts, plastic cups. Peyton was the face of the city, and there wasn’t one person between Fort Wayne and Jeffersonville who didn’t think he brought fire to humans.
Peyton and I are the same age. When the Giants and Colts played a few years ago, NBC kept showing those home movies of Peyton, Eli and Cooper playing in the yard as kids. It struck me how much that video looked and sounded like me and Kyle and Jason Steele. That’s about where the similarities end.
In the absence of any real information rumors and hearsay abound. One report says Peyton flew to Europe for stem cell treatment. He showed up at the Colts’ practice a few days ago, but he had that scowl on his face, the one he gets when he’s thrown four touchdown passes but the defense keeps letting the Patriots walk up and down the field like a marching drill.
It’s the look, well known to Colts’ fans, that says the situation is out of Peyton’s hands, that he can’t control it and it’s killing him.
I’m a fool to think that I know Peyton Manning, but like most fans, that hasn’t stopped me from trying to guess what’s going on with him. I’ve tried to imagine what it must be like for Peyton, facing even the possibility that his career could be over.
What must it be like when a man devotes himself so completely to something, spends so much time practicing and studying and becoming perhaps better than any human being ever has at it, and then stands in real danger of being forced into retirement at the height of his powers?
As I watched Peyton scowling from the sideline of the Colts’ practice I had to ask myself what my identity and self-worth are caught up in? What, I asked, if it were taken away from me, would make me feel unneeded, perhaps even unloved?
It’s good that we place a high premium on accomplishment. There’d be no excellence in science, art or the beautiful pursuits of life if we didn’t. Attaching our self-worth to what we achieve is another matter, though.
I think Peyton’s neck will heal and he’ll eventually come back and play, but the thought that he might not scares me. It disturbs me on some deep level, a dark place in the back of my mind where I have to wonder, if I couldn’t make my living writing for the newspaper, what use would the world have for me?
We are each beloved of God. Most of us believe that, but somehow it never seems to be enough, does it?