Monday, December 30, 2013

Top Ten of 2013...#2 Peyton

It's that time of the year. Time for all the Top Ten lists. Many writers produce them and guess what, they're utterly unapologetic subjective filler. Something to plug into the space so that the writer can take time off to finish his/her holiday errands. So here are My Top Ten (plus a few) Favorite Things of 2013. Some have been around awhile, but I generally discover things later than most. I'm going to dribble them out one day at a time, many are completely frivolous because remember: they're filler so that I can do holiday things.

My Favorite Sports Story of 2013. 

SI Sportsman of the Year
I grew up in a football family. Even though I played four years of high school baseball, we were still a football family. On weekends from September to January, my Dad Russell was conjoined to the TV or radio. If you spent quality time with Dad, you shared a game with him. 

The last thing we did together was watch Oregon play Michigan in the Big House at Ann Arbor. The Ducks won huge 39-7. And Dad died in intensive care 12 hours later.

But long before that, growing up, Sundays were for the pros. We all had to pick a team to root for. Me? The Baltimore Colts. Dad? The Dallas Cowboys.  Saturdays were the college games, and there was only one team, the closest: the University of Tennessee Volunteers. Dad's mood paralleled the Vols' losses and wins. He was either Dad, or elated Dad. 

Peyton shared his first SI cover 
with his more famous father
In 1994, a lanky and bit awkward new quarterback with a famous pedigree showed up in Knoxville. Vol fans certainly knew the name Manning. The 1969 38-to-zip drubbing delivered by the Ole Miss Archie Who? Rebels still haunted their sleepless nights. 

But that September, 25 years later, Peyton Manning started the season at UT as the number three or four QB. Yes, third or fourth on the depth chart. Peyton Manning! Yet starter Jerry Colquitt was injured in the first game and Todd Helton (of Colorado Rockies baseball fame) was injured in the fourth. Manning took over in the fifth game of his freshman year and he's been behind center ever since. Whether he wears orange, or blue, or orange again, for 20 seasons we have cheered for Peyton.

If Dad were still living he'd be elated again. This time by SI's Sportsman of the Year selection, I'm sure he'd say something like, "It's about time. He's been working his b--- off for 20 years." 

Dad always said, "If you work hard, son. Put in the time. Good things will happen and you'll get all that you deserve."

And that's the thing you admire with Peyton: his work ethic, his pursuit of perfection, his intensity, his preparation, his focus. Always looking for ways to improve. 

Even if it takes 20 years.

Or perhaps, it's his sense of humor. Dad would have loved having football on his phone.

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