Indiana is a simple place, really. You can size it up quickly. There's no complicated topography. There're some hills in the south and some lakes in the north, but for the most part, what you see is what you get. It's flat.
Flat can be deceiving.
Flat makes distance hard to judge. Objects are always further away than they appear. Nothing sneaks up on you in Indiana. You have a feel for that water tower a mile or so before you get to it. Of course, you can't read the graffiti until you get up close.
Hoosiers are like so many water towers. You see them; you size them up, but don't expect to read them from afar.
Michael Weinreb came to Indianapolis recently. Our lack of flash mobs disappointed him.
His conclusion after talking to the editor of Nuvo, a museum curator, Bob Kravitz, and a professor was that Hoosiers don't really love Peyton Manning.
"He could have been the king of this town, if he wanted to be," said David Hoppe.
The carpetbaggers never plagued Indiana the way they invaded the South. It's ironic, because Indy has always lusted after their attention, or at least their money. For as long as I can remember, Indianapolis was a city that craved the spotlight, the chance to show the world that we were just as good or better than anyone else. We begged and cajoled the carpetbaggers to come, to notice us. We relished the Pacers and Knicks for all the reasons many have mentioned before. At least they were paying attention to us.
After reading Weinreb's piece, however, it is clear to me how little New York understands Indiana. Maybe we are just too flat.
According to Weinreb's exhaustive interview of a handful (and clearly representative sample) of people living in Indiana (most not even Hoosiers), Peyton Manning isn't really beloved, never lived up to expectations, doesn't own the city, was too down-home and personable, and should never have made all those funny commercials because now no one takes him seriously.
I don't want to mock or ridicule Weinreb. His piece wasn't malicious. It was just so profoundly wrong and out of step with the way people around here feel, that I marvel at how badly he missed the essence of what Peyton Manning means to Indiana.
Comparing Manning to Bob Knight or even Reggie Miller is utterly beside the point. Knight was always hated by a good chunk of the state, and he was ultimately ushered out by his own doings after his considerable talents eroded past the point where we could over look his flaws. As for Reggie Miller, as beloved as he was, even in the late 90s, there was not a 31 jersey hanging in every closet. Reggie was special and electric, but he was never transcendent. He did not change Indiana. He wasn't even the greatest basketball hero the state has ever had. Not by a long shot. He hasn't been gone 10 years, and now we shower his chant on a football player.
Peyton Manning changed Indiana.
What people like Bob Kravitz have never understood is what this state was like before he got here. I'm not going to rewrite Blue Blood here and now, but after a decade of Peyton Manning, high school football outdraws high school basketball.
Peyton Manning isn't king of Indianapolis?
We built the man a football palace.
His number hangs in every closet and every back come Sundays in the fall. People love everything about him, ESPECIALLY his commercials. Fail to take him seriously? The whole city has been in mourning for the past 8 months. What Weinreb read as disinterest is just emotional exhaustion. People have been dying inside since August. No, I'm not taking to the streets in Februrary. I broke down in September and cried at my desk in December. I'm spent. We all are.
There was a pocket of people that blamed Peyton that there was 'only' one Super Bowl. That much is true. Those people also shut up permanently after the 2011 season. What dissenters remained were forever silenced by watching the same team that had made the playoffs in 2010 completely implode without Peyton. There are no doubters left. There are plenty of people who actually blame the Colts for failing him.
So no, no one's taking to the streets to protest. There's nothing to protest. No one even knows if Peyton is healthy. We've been battered by rumors of impending retirement, secret surgeries, last ditch attempts to take the field. We've no angst left for a flash mob. At this point, most Hoosiers just hope he's ok. Yeah, we are pragmatic. How else can we feel at this point? He's going to leave. Everyone hopes he'll stay, but this is Indiana. No one really believes it possible that he'd choose us over Miami or New York. No one ever does. People want the best for Peyton. It's hard to see how that's Indianapolis at this point. Just writing those words tears me apart. It's like admitting defeat.
The Peyton Manning saga has been dragging on since August. It's been hard on the city watching our greatest hero just vanish. He was here with us every week for years, and with little warning he was just...gone. Can you imagine, even IMAGINE, what it would be like if Peyton showed up in public? He'd be swarmed. He's the most recognizable face in town. People hang on his every word. Peyton Manning couldn't be any more the king of Indianapolis if he started wearing a blue robe, crown, and pranced about calling himself the "Prince of Catfish" (we don't really have whales around here. We make do with what we've got).
There's no point in trying to express how deeply this city feels about Peyton Manning. You either get it or you don't. Yeah, I have four Peyton Manning jerseys in my closet. Who doesn't at this point? No, I'm not the least bit impartial when it comes to Peyton Manning. No Hoosier is. How can anyone interview a guy who grew up in Minnesota rooting for John Unitas and think his opinion is indicative of how Indiana feels about Manning? It baffles me.
Nuvo? Really? I mean...really?
Weinreb came to Indianapolis and saw what he expected, or didn't see what he expected. Either way, he packed his note pad, recorder, and type-writer in his shag-lined satchel and went back to New York to spin his yarn about how the yokels like their southern-white savior, but they don't like-like him.
I mean, all they do is name their kids after him.
@NateDunlevy it's not ur a hater u r just wrong.. Lol and u will get reminded a lot this year when Decker, Thomas etc. catch the long balls
@NateDunlevy he can do no wrong ok!!?? It is hard to watch our idols age, it really is. Had that issue with Pete Rose myself
I will admit, I am probably one of the few people that have not accepted it yet. I'm still hanging on the tiniest strand of hope that exists that 18 will be back. Have I wanted to accept it? More than anything, but I just can't get myself to do it. Do I expect him to go? yes! Do I want him to? absolutely not!
But have I cried over him yet? no, I haven't. Have I admitted defeat? not yet.... but I feel it coming every day... I've actually avoided all colts/football news recently because I know it's coming... just another week now and it'll be here.
All that to say this! Great article... even made me weep a bit inside! I'm not and have never been a Hoosier, but even then I understand what PM has done for the city (and the game), I only hope that people don't buy into Weinreb and his stupidity.
@18to88 Great write-up. I always felt like Manning took too much criticism for playoff shortcomings. Just like Brady is now. #OneAndDungy
I'll just clarify a little bit by saying that Reggie did a very similar thing for this city that Peyton did. Everyone I knew did have a Miller jersey in their closet. Reggie's success was cornerstone in getting a new stadium built. Their team was a few minutes away from stopping Jordan's last championship run. If Manning would not have come when he did, this city would still be in mourning of the joke that the Pacers have been for so long.
Having had a similar surgery myself, I said all along that he wouldn't be able to play again or at least he shouldn't play again. No doubt he would like to play and has tried to recover quickly, not to mention Indy loves him but at the risk of causing even MORE injury, I would like to see him serve the NFL in another capacity. He's a great personality and people enjoy him. I don't want to see him literally break his neck trying to prove he can do it. Its nothing to play with and having to keep having more surgery shows he's trying too hard. If the "fans" aren't supportive of what is best for him then they aren't very good fans in my opinion.
Thank you. You have just written all of our thoughts and feelings into this article. I couldn't have said it better myself. I was hopeful that Manning would only miss a few games this year and every week I thought to myself "This could be the week he starts practicing. Maybe he'll be on the field soon." I was pretty much heartbroken that he never healed in time to play. Before I watch Peyton back in 05, I didn't watch football very much. growing up in Cincinnati, I only watched the Bengals every now and then. Then on November 20, 2005, the Colts came to Cincinnati and i saw Peyton Manning play for the first time. Ever since then, I've been a Colts fans and have watch football almost every week. Now that he is probably going to leave, it kills me because I know he wants to stay and finish his career in Indy, but Irsay just isn't making it seem like that is going to be a reality unless Manning retires. I hope he plays at least one more season, because I want to have to privilege of seeing him play in person.
I quit reading anything from espn.com back in the summer. I never fooled with grantland because if they're people with the Simmons stamp of approval, they're clearly clowns. I love how he implies we shouldn't like Peyton because Archie took home movies of the kids growing up. Tom Brady was wealthy growing up too, but that never gets mentioned, they always make him into some BS Horatio Alger story
Thank you. I live in a beautiful area that is becoming over run with arrogant New Yorkers, I lack the elegance to express myself concerning the bad energy some of them bring here. I watch the small company that my wife has worked for for years get turned on it's head by them and their self-centeredness. And now some clown writes an article about my home state and his perception of how they treat an absolute genius of the game. Your right Nate, Manning has transformed Indiana. Thanks for your words, excellent article.
Way to go, Nate. I've missed hearing your clarion call and viewing your 20-20 vision of the Colts. This is a gem, a keeper, a repudiation of the New York know-it-alls who know NOTHING. I've shared this with my personal Colts-fan circle. Keep up the great work, and don't be away so long from now on. Best wishes to you and your family.
I disagree strongly about Reggie.
I was in middle and high school 93-00, at Indianapolis public schools. Every kid had a Miller jersey. They stopped rocking Jordan. Reggie definitely changed Indiana, maybe not the Indiana Nate knows as well.
I shouldn't have said they don't care about the truth. They can't write untruths. But you can take enterprise or opinion pieces any number of directions, and they can certainly go to extremes.
The thing is these guys - people like Kravitz and Jason Whitlock included - don't care a whole lot about the truth. They care about being provocative. They care about Sports Center, PTI, and what their buddies in the business have to say. There are so many columnists and talking heads out there now, it's become a game to get their name out there. They'll take the angle that causes a stir every time. Otherwise, they're drowned out in the sea of voices. This guy swooping in for a day or so (or maybe even interviewing by phone), talking to 3 or 4 people and writing a piece on the pulse of Indiana is a joke. But it got him prominently in ESPN.com. Nate's piece has the perfect tone - from someone who's been here.
@18to88 great article my wife and I had the name Peyton picked out for our 1st child but we lost the baby.We named our second after Cooper.
I remember relishing "manning face" during all the games Belichick and Brady had his number, but I hope he's able to come back and perform at a level I know he wants to demand of himself. The game is just not the same without him. Well played, Nate Dunlevy (I opened the Grantland article today and skipped it after realizing how long the damn thing was; kind of glad I did now, feel like you saved me some time by hearing how things are directly from a true source).
I have a young Colt fan in New Jersey who loves Peyton as his hero. I cried when I heard about the third surgery. I want Peyton well. I will watch him where ever he plays. I do not want to believe he has played his last game. I want him as a coach in Indy. I want many more commercials with his talent!! Most of all, I want him to have health and his family. Nate you are a great writer. From Aunt Gail
Awesome article! I live in Quebec city and Peyton made me a Colts fan. Now I'm also rooting for Indianapolis as a city. Most of the colts fan I know will stay with the team even when Manning is gone. Anyway, when it comes to the Colts, grantland contributor's seems unable to produce anything else than pieces of shit (Barnwell I'm talking about you). Go Colts!
Great article. I agree with everything except the part about Reggie Miller. Go ask any 20 year who grew up around Indianapolis who their basketball hero was growing up. Besides the people who say MJ, I guarantee Reggie wins it by a landslide. He was every bit the hero to me that Peyton is/was. Sure he didn't win a championship, but those clutch 3's to win every game he won for us made him transcendent. I am not asking you to agree, but in my mind, Reggie will always be my favorite basketball player ever. And Peyton Manning will always be my favorite football player.
By the way, if you talk to Kravitz, tell him to fix that broken record. You know the one he has that keeps repeating how much Indiana needs to get rid of Peyton. It was old back in September.
Good read and right on the money. Here in Tennessee we still love the guy and there are always a ton of Indy fans when the Titans suck -- which has been most of Peyton's reign.
@18to88 Comments werent working on the work computer when I read it so I wasn't able to say it then, but yes, fantastic piece Nate.
Peyton Manning's father is Archie Manning, Jim Irsay's father was Robert "The Red Nosed" Irsay. We Baltimore Colts fans, there are still plenty of us, know who speaks with a forked tongue. Many Baltimoreans respect Peyton because of the respect he has shown to John Unitas and other Baltimore Colts. The only reason your team ever went to the Superbowl was because of Peyton. The Irsay's are not to be trusted, ever. I hold no grudge against Indianapolis fans, but I see losing in their future as there was losing before Payton. Jimmy is a train wreck rich man's son who has lots of self esteem. Return the icons of the Baltimore Colts to Baltimore and the curse will be lifted.
@ErikFrenz In general, I don't believe even in the concept of 'wins' for QBs. It's the bane of NFL analysis. Teams win. Players contribute.
Reggie was amazing. I love Reggie. What he did was great. He did not turn Indiana into a basketball state. I was at game 6 of the Eastern conference finals against the Bulls. I was at the Pacers/Knicks games. I was at game 4 of the NBA Finals. I'm the biggest Pacers fan around. I love the Pacers. I had a Reggie Miller jersey. Not everyone did though. There were more Jordan jerseys around than Reggie ones.
There is absolutely no comparison between the effect Peyton Manning had on Indiana and the effect Reggie Miler did.
That's not a knock on Reggie at all.
I fail to see how you could possibly say that.
Reggie is one of my all time favorite athletes. I love Reggie.
He absolutely did not change Indiana. You need to articulate more of a criticism than that. Indiana loved basketball plenty before Reggie Miller. Do you dispute that he's not even the greatest basketball hero in the state?
I suspect you are young. I don't know of anyone over the age of 30 who disagrees with this point.
@Aunt Jean Jean! I'm here twice a week! I only missed a few days after the Super Bowl. You can find me on Mondays and Fridays.
I graduated in 1995 from Pike. That was not my experience at all. Reggie didn't 'change' Indiana. Indiana already loved basketball. He was more of what we already had.
@dcraig09 I love Reggie too. He's in my top 3 favorite athletes (Peyton, Reggie, Barry Larkin), however, Steve Alford, Damon Bailey and Calbert Chaney were just as big to me when I was young, and as I've aged, Bird has been more important too.
Please don't read it as a slight on Reg. He's one great basketball player in a state full of them. Peyton is just on a whole different plane. He has no football peer in Indiana lore.
Curse of Unitas,
If you want to blame anybody, blame Elway. If he would played in Baltimore the Colts would still be there. You were drawing less than 30,000 a game. It cracks me up that supposed Colts fans who were barely attending the games are still crying after 28 years. Do you hear St Louis and other cities crying?
@18to88 A lot like +/- in hockey; a piece of the puzzle, but not a definitive measure of better/worse QBs.
@18to88 Ten-four. Thanks!
@CrizzleColts What are you- an Irsay relative or a neurotic english teacher. Oh I know, you are in denial about Jimmah. Try to address the subject of the post.
@CrizzleColts nvm, to my previous comment. i read the end of it.
@FauxPManning THAT'S ALL THERE IS TO REPORT. I'm just trying to tell the truth. I don't WANT it to be this way.
@FauxPManning If Peyton takes a cheap deal and comes back, I'll do the biggest dance of joy in history. I don't give a crap if you laugh.
@FauxPManning Why would you laugh at me? I hope I'm wrong too. No one will be happier than me. You think I want him gone or something?
@kc6624 @Curse @bloomington I always wonder why the "Curse of Unitas" types omit the salient fact that the state of Maryland was going to take over/steal/privatize the Colts if they'd stayed in Baltimore. It's no wonder "evil" Robert Irsay whisked his team out of town before it WASN'T his team any longer. What do you have to say to that??
@Curse of Unitas @bloomington I often wonder how people in Baltimore can be so hateful about the Colts moving to Indy, but always seem to leave out the part about Art Modell ripping the heart out of Cleveland when he moved the Browns to Baltimore.
coming into these message boards with a name like "curse of unitas" isn't a good way to make friends... not that you came here to make friends.
but it is a good way to get labeled a troll.i still have an automatic hackles-raised reaction to 19>18's name but i've grown enough to read what he has to say before deciding to agree or disagree with it.
@CrizzleColts the problem we had was your last sentence, dawg." Return the icons of the Baltimore Colts to Baltimore and the curse will be lifted." i mean, what the hell is this?
@bloomington You guys can't even take a compliment about your Hall of Fame quarterback and some friendly advice, I did say Baltimoreans don't hold a grudge against Indy fans, about Irsay, Jr. . Who is the one that is pathetic. And by the way, The Baltimore Colts won 3 World Championships in that time period you mentioned. The owner's name was the Rosenbloom.
I'd be bitter if my favorite team moved away too. Probably for a long time, a REALLY long time, maybe even as much as a decade. But this is just pathetic. The Colts have been in Indianapolis for nearly the same amount of time they were in Baltimore and you've had an excellent team of your own for over a decade. Go home and leave us be.