This week's edition of the Horseshoe Diaries comes from a part-time drummer, part-time Colts fan, full-time good guy (and someone I'm proud to call a friend), Nathan. After the jump, we'll read his tale of drumming, Coltsing, and debauchery (okay, not really, just like Page Hits).
Drumming, I love it. I started playing drums when I was 14 years old. For four years I practiced every day for at least 3 hours or until my mom had just enough of the pictures bouncing off the walls. Her favorite method to get me to stop was to flick the light switch in the garage on and off repeatedly, and I countered that by learning to play with my eyes shut… we have a give and take relationship. Growing up I always had an interest to do something with music, I just didn’t have the patience to sit down and learn any stringed instrument and there was no way in hell that I was going to get up in front of an audience and sing. So naturally, I floated over to percussion and man o’ man has it served me well.
You see when you’re sitting on the throne (yes we call it a throne, but it’s a stool or chair or bicycle seat… just whatever works really) you’re in control of the entire band. The drummer’s role is to keep perfect time, to direct the other members through the changes in the music, and to call audibles during a live performance when things aren’t going the way they’re planned. But the most important rule of drumming is that it’s your job to make everyone else in the band sound better than they may actually be, to bring out their strengths and be smart enough to hide their weaknesses. If there’s a bad bass player in the band you probably won’t notice too much. And the same goes with a keyboardist or rhythm guitarist, but if there’s a bad drummer you’ll know right away. And quite frankly, it inhibits the other members of the band from performing their jobs and in the end you get something that sucks and should never see the light of day again. Need an example? Listen to anything Pink Floyd did live before Dark Side of the Moon. Sorry Nick Mason, you had the job I always wanted but you didn’t deserve to have it, at all.
Sound familiar? This is how the quarterback position is viewed in the NFL, and about the same time I was picking up my love for playing drums, I was just getting into football and more specifically, Peyton Manning. My brother, who’s ten years older than I am, has been a season ticket holder since 1995. So I remember, vaguely, out of my own memory of Marshall Faulk and Captain Comeback but I didn’t have any interest in it. He would take me to games when some of his friends couldn’t make it, which looking back on it I realize how lucky I actually am, but at the time like I said, I wasn’t in to sports so I didn’t know what I was really getting myself into. I can remember a game he took me to in 99’ that all I can recall are him and his friends talking about this Peyton Manning guy and how we actually have a team good enough to contend for a Super Bowl. My thoughts during that time went something like this; “Wait… You mean we didn’t have a team good enough before?” or “Why do they keep stopping in between plays?” or my favorite “Yeah I know you’re taking me to this game, but am I going to be home in time to watch Monday Night Raw?” I was 12 and didn’t know what I was looking at. Man how things have changed.
The first game that I sat down and watched by myself was the 04’ playoff game against the Chiefs, and for someone who didn’t comprehend football at that time let’s just say that’s a pretty good game to start with. The Colts had a decent lead going into the second half and the game became fairly close with Hall’s return at the end of the third, but wow what a game to watch even now. I didn’t become a religious fanatic after that game and even missed the AFC title game a week later, probably something to do with music, blah. But I started to develop an interest and though I wasn’t dedicated through the 05’ season with watching every game, but that certainly changed with the 06’ season and the Super Bowl run. As I’m sure it did with most people.
During the AFC title game against the Pats I actually had to leave my house and go to work when Peyton took the field for the final drive, yeah perfect timing. Needless to say I nearly ran off the road many times during that drive, the Fletcher catch, Wayne almost losing the ball, and Addai’s game winning touchdown. I was at a stoplight and I was honking my horn and flashing my brights and just generally having a good time by myself before I went into work, right? Completely normal behavior, but all of that came crashing down when I realized that Brady is getting the ball and they have a significant amount of time left on the clock and a big thanks to Bob Lamey who kept reminding me and reminding me and reminding me. But then I heard it, “INTER-CEP-TED!!! MARLIN’S GOT IT!! MARLIN’S GOT IT!!! WE’RE GOING TO THE SUPER BOWL” So at that moment I did what any rational person would do, stop your truck, put it in neutral and run around stark raving mad with excitement, such a great moment to look back on.
After that I was hooked and I just couldn’t get enough of Peyton Manning. Watching him command the offense and communicate with everyone on the field to get us into the right play is still to this day my absolute favorite thing about him. How he can sucker a defense into showing what scheme they’re in with the use of dummy calls and then immediately making them pay for it, is something that I hope goes into the Smithsonian Institute under the title, “Failure is not an option.” Watching him execute perfect from on a play action pass or his insane ability to, with a slight move of the hips, elude a 6’5 300 pound lineman from drilling him into the ground and still deliver the ball down field for the first down, amazing. My favorite play to this day, other than the Marvin catch at New England in 06’, was the 45 yard bomb to Austin Collie in between a nickel corner and a safety in the 09’ AFC title game against the Jets, it was just unreal.
But doesn’t that seem like so long ago? Remembering the 09’ Super Bowl, the tale of two halves, still brings me discomfort and anxiety. But it also was the game where no matter what happened, I found out that Peyton Manning wouldn’t quit. You might be thinking to yourself, “Nate, didn’t you watch the 03’ Tampa Bay game? Or the 08’ game against the Texans? Or the 09’ game against the Pats? You’re just realizing this now??” Yeah because the common denominator in those games is that we came out the victor. But in that Super Bowl we didn’t, but that still didn’t stop Manning from trying to win even after he threw the pick six. I remember the camera focusing on his face right before he threw incomplete to Reggie on fourth down to essentially seal our loss. His face was beat red, sweat pouring out of his forehead like a waterfall, his composure was a little unhinged and if you looked closely enough, you could see his heart pounding through his pads. I’ve never felt sorrier for a paid athlete in my entire life. After the game he kept his helmet on, his shoulders slumped and his head down has he walked his way to the locker room. And watching that blue and white 18 jersey move back and forth I knew that he didn’t give up, not on me, not on the fans, not on his teammates and especially not on himself. He tried till the last second even though all hope was gone, but damn it he tried. He tried.
And this, among anything else is what I cherish most about my Indianapolis Colts. Last season they went out there and tried to win every game they could. It didn’t work 14 out of the 16 times but I’m telling you, they tried. And I can’t thank them enough for that.
So I’m going to take my lesson from Manning and continue to do what I love, drumming. Even though I might not make it big or be famous. Even though I might never actually make a decent living at it and when it’s all said and done it’ll just be a hobby, but I will try and I will keep trying until that clock says 0:00 and I’ve just run out of possessions to score. So thanks Peyton, thanks Dwight and Robert, Marvin and Reggie, Bethea and Sanders, Addai and… Hart ;) Thanks from a guy who isn’t gifted in the sporting world like you, but uses your example to turn my talents in the music world into something… Profitable? No no… Something fun. Thanks.