Editor's note: With Peyton Manning playing again tonight, and so far this season looking like himself, this is a fantastically written piece by Josh Boeke about the nature of fanhood. Specifically, Boeke takes on the nature of Colts fans and their now ex-quarterback Peyton Manning. While plenty has been written on the issue, this piece, in my opinion, is one of the most well-written and eloquent attempts at bridging the gap. Thanks to Boeke for another excellent piece this week. -KJR
Walking out of Colts’ training camp last month I was talking to a friend about why he values autographs. To me it seemed like a meaningless scribble on a piece of memorabilia, a childish fancy meant to excite the young and maybe interest collectors.
“It’s not about the signature,” he said as we got in the car, “I would never just have a player sign a piece of paper. That’s pointless. It’s about the history, the memories. When I watch the Colts play I wear this hat and it reminds me of the players I’ve cheered for over the years.” He took the hat off and looked at the faded signatures of players past and present that dotted the white and blue landscape of the worn fabric.
Dwight Freeney, Jeff Saturday, Edgerrin James, Marvin Harrison, Marshall Faulk, and of course Peyton Manning; all the best Colts’ players of the last decade represented each by a different, but equally illegible, black scrawl of ink. To him, these otherwise arbitrary loops and lines were a constant reminderof memories past but not forgotten, of last second drives and crushing defeats, of elation and of sorrow.
For my friend, and for many fans of a professional sports team, the connection they feel to their respective franchises is akin to religious devotion, an attachment so extreme it transcends reason and engenders profound emotional bonds with a business entity to which they enjoy no tangible connection.
But what, ultimately, is the root cause of this devotion? Is it, as Jerry Seinfeld famously opined, simply rooting for a particular city’s clothes? If you throw a blue and white uniform on a team of automatons, would that evoke the same loyal commitment? One certainly would hope not, and yet it often seems that way. Of course fan loyalty usually starts with the arbitrary location of a person’s birth, but that isn’t a requirement, only a catalyst.
In its purest form, competition is a fundamental and visceral human experience. Anyone who has participated in any sort of competition, whether it be in a video game, at school, in work, amongst friends, or on a professional football field, understands that the lust for competition is innate, that the desire to win is perhaps the single most motivating ambition in all of existence.
Professional sports teams give us an avenue to that experience on a scale we could otherwise never realistically hope to attain. By attaching ourselves to the successes of a sports franchise, like the Colts for example, we bask in the reflected glory of their achievements and are lifted up, metaphorically, by their accomplishments on the field. But that isn’t the whole story.
When the Colts win we feel good, but that feeling isn’t disconnected from the event, rather it is directly attributable to the players on the field who are responsible for the victory, the Colts players, “our” players.
This attribution in the minds of the faithful leads to a certain degree of emotional attachment, by which we attach the good feeling of winning with the players we credit with that victory (or in a negative case, become dissatisfied with players we blame for a loss, i.e. Jeff Linkenbach).
Thus a unidirectional bond is formed between the fan, an entity of which the player on the team is only conceptually aware, and the player who now becomes the object of the fan’s devotion.
What happens then when this player, who now enjoys the same religious like devotion as the team for which he plays, is removed from that team and joins another? This is the fascinating (to me anyway), and cognitively dissonant, dilemma that has haunted the hearts and minds of many Colts’ fans for the past 6 months, and continues to do so even now as the greatest sports icon this city has ever known suits up for a new team in tonight’s upcoming game.
Which brings me finally to my point. Why do so many fans feel the need to create a false dichotomy between the franchise and the players? Why should the clothes supersede the man by whom they’re worn? Is it possible to be both a Peyton Manning fan and a Colts’ fan?
Is it human nature to force exclusivity where none need exist? From religions, to fraternities, to politics, and of course to sports, and everything in between, we humans love to divide, to create categories and labels, to exclude or include based on predefined criteria. This makes us feel superior, set apart and above other people, and it gives us a sense of belonging and community, fulfilling a crucial human desire for acceptance.
As my friend and I drive away from Anderson University, Andrew Luck’s impressive showing fresh on our minds, I ask him if he’s still going to root for Peyton Manning in Denver now that he’s wearing a different shade of blue. Perhaps to nobody’s surprise his answer is quick and decisive, “I mean, I hope he does well in Denver, but it’s the Luck era now, Manning is just a player on another team.”
Just another player? Really? This same guy who just explained to me the sentimental significance of a scribble on a hat now considers his all-time favorite player just another guy because he wears a different uniform. Apparently you can only enjoy memories of your favorite players if those memories occurred while they were on your favorite team. Only in sports would something like this make sense (or perhaps not).
A common refrain, one that I hear all across the internet Colts’ communities that I frequent, is if you wear a Peyton Manning jersey to a Colts’ game you’re a turncoat, a traitor, disloyal, unsupportive, a Peyton Manning fan, not a real Colts’ fan, a Dolt.
This perspective is to me ridiculous. Who is qualified to determine what constitutes a “real fan”? One friend of mine went so far as to say, “There’s a special circle of Hell for those who sew together Colts and Broncos Manning jerseys.” While amusing, it's also what he actually believes.
Are sports really so absurd that the adoration we claim to possess is so fragile it can be undone by a contract dispute? I’m friends with a Packers’ fan who can’t even utter Brett Favre’s name without suffering a rage stroke.
Sports are wonderful for all kinds of reasons, entertainment chief among them, but for me the human element trumps everything else. I love the Colts, I always have and I always will, but like my friend and his hat, the memories are important too, and the players who helped form them are more valuable to me than the team for which they played. A controversial opinion perhaps, but one that I stand behind.
Peyton Manning is my football hero, and even though his uniform now might be navy blue, he’s still the same guy that gave me some of the most glorious days of my life, and I for one intend to bask in that reflection for as long as he’s playing in the NFL.
I just saw this quote by #18 that reaffirms my undying loyalty, no matter what team he's playing for. As told by Archie Manning to Shutdown Corner:
"... he told me a couple weeks ago that he had been elected team captain. I asked him, 'Aren't most quarterbacks elected captain?' 'Yeah,' he said, 'but I've been chewing a lot of butter around here. I didn't know if I'd get any votes or not.'"
"Chewing a lot of butter" is right up there with "cut that meat", in my book.
I have this desire to hear Archie Manning on the role of fan/team issue:Archie:
"Ya'll know that's a sensitive issue.. see.. Fans.. you see.. they like the players.. can love the players actually.. and wow this is a tough issue.. see with Peyton.. he was good to the city.. named a hospital.. children's part of it.. after him.. but growing up in New Orleans.. the kids would even put on a paper bag over their heads even though their dad was the quarterback.. so .. see fans.. they'll follow the crowd.. and cheer on whoeer's out there.. or boo whoever's out there.. even if it's dad.. so .. ya.. Mr. Irsay has done well with that organization.. we're glad Peyton went there as the first pick and not San Diego.. so it's a bit of both I think... Owner and player.. making the success.. I think more its the player.. but yeah fans can be brutal.. hopefully Peyton can do some good things with Denver.. and John's got this team going in the right direction.. "
Scribbled on a napkin somewhere is a note I made from a comment by Sean Payton in his book about the speech he gave to his players the Monday of Super Bowl week.. when some of them just seemed happy to be there and he was afraid they'd get whooped by the colts. (They eventually won the game, obviously) He asked Bill Parcells to give a message to his team based on all his experience [Payton had Ronnie Lott excite the shit out of all of them in the NFL championship game one year.. motivation is his thing]
"Before I finish talking.. I have something else I want to add. I asked Bill Parcells to speak to you guys. You know he means a lot to me. He's a smart guy, and you've heard me talk about him. He's not in a position to speak to this team. He had a message that I was going to give to you on Saturday, but I'm going to give it to you today."
Bill's message wasn't something he dreamed up alone. It dates back decades before him. It sounds to me like pure Vince Lombardi, but it probably goes back even further than that. I told the players, here's what Bill Parcells said. He said:
" When the band stops playing and the crowd stops cheering - when people stop paying to come - and it's quiet and all you're left with is yourself, you've gotta be able to answer the question 'Did I do my best? Did I do everything fuckin possible to win this game.?"
[Literary analysis.. my incredible sense of learning applied] Notice how he says "the band stops playing" and how he's associating the outside world with the fans.. etc.. he's also mentioned before in comments that fans (when a player does something negative publicity wise) only cheer for the jersey, and as soon as he puts it back on and scores a touchdown.. its irrelevant.. I think the whole idea is he was using that particular comment to convey the message that players are replacable.. Curtis Martin even said in his Hall of Fame speech that he once called Parcells before a game to tell him he wasn't certain if he should try to play since he was hurting.. and Parcells told him he should always think long term.. but then he added "but there's always someone else behind you" - and Martin played the game!
So I take this all to mean as a player, an athlete.. you can't really focus on the live and die hard people cheering you on because you're above it.. your a warrior - competitor - keeper of the flame - its your end and goal to excel at the task.. and the people watching will cheer on mindlessly.
The way I see it, Manning's only gonna be around for another 4-5 years. Luck, and more exactly, the Colts will be around long after that.
I lived, breathed, smiled and cried Peyton Manning and the Colts for over a decade. Now just because one is not a part of the other doesn't mean I don't have an emotional attachment. I can't let go. Hell, I'm an Astros fan, despite never living in Houston and only being one because my cousin is one and he introduced me to baseball. That team is arguably the worst run franchise in pro sports over the past five years. I still root for them. I can't let go of Peyton. I won't.
I love talking to Broncos fans, who view Peyton as we once viewed him. I love watching him play still, and I will be there watching every moment of his career he has left. Who says that one must be a fan of a team and not a player. Who says you can't be a fan of both? I've invested way too much time in watching Peyton grow from an extremely talented, smart but flawed player in 2000-2003, to the greatest QB of all time. I want to make sure I see QB being played in its finest form as much as I can.
Nate Dunlevy during the 2010 season (or it might have been last year, i"ve kind of blocked everything from 2011 out of my mind) said, and I'm paraphrasing, that the goal of a football team is to give you Happy Sunday's, and if they are giving you more Happy Sunday's than not, then the team is doing its job. Well, the Colts and Peyton Manning gave me three times more Happy Sunday's as sad ones for seven straight years. It is a Happy Sunday if the Colts win right now, with this young team that could dominate this league in 2014. But you bet it is a Happy Sunday for me if Peyton Manning plays well and his team wins. Even though it might be in Orange, not Blue, and his helmet has a horse's face and not a horse's shoe.
@dmstorm22 That was awesome. You summed up exactly how I feel about it, too.
Speaking of talking to Broncos fans, have you found a good place to do this? (Preferably with Livefyre running the comments, so I can make new friends with my schizophrenic avatar, and perhaps run into some of you folks there, too.)
@pierrezombie Sadly, I meant non-online conversations. I have quite a few friends that are Broncos fans, so talking to them
Mile High Report is probably the best place. I don't know if I really want to get immersed into another SBNation blog. It takes too much time and effort that I really don't need (I must've spent 300 hours on Stampede Blue during the 2009 season). Also, I enjoy playing the village contrarian at Pats Pulpit.
@pierrezombie @dmstorm22 I´m still searching for this too. I´ve been reading milehighreport, but for one, it´s SBNation, so your avatar wouldn´t be able to garner its deserved success, and two, some fans are great, but there are many who are in the Stampede Blue mold (quick to attack and spout prevailing wisdom), although their main writers are very reasonable, passionate and easy to read. When you find out, let me know!
That was a very thought-provoking article, Josh. I absolutely don´t understand people who affirm you can´t be a Peyton fan and a Colts fan at the same time. Is there a law I´m unaware of that specifies this? Otherwise, who has enough insight into your mind to decipher your reasons, all the emotional connections that make your heart tick in certain situations and for certain people, and be justified in discarding them as illegitimate? Nobody, that´s who.
Regarding your friend´s assertion that Peyton is now just another player on another team, and in this team-vs-player false dichotomy, I think it´s enlightening to consider what would happen if a hated player suddenly played on your team. For me, it´s quite clear. If Ben Roethlisberger, for any reason at all, ever became a Colt, I would never, ever be able to root for him. Never. Would my fanatic love of the Colts be supposed to supersede the fact he´s a rapist? I would not want the Colts to lose horribly, but at the same time I´d be viscerally unable to muster the depths of passion that are necessary for sports to really resonate with me. Would that make me a bad Colts fans, really? Or would it just reflect the fact that for sports fandom to be about passion, and not about corps mentality, there has to be something humanly special about who and what you root for?
And that´s where my love of Peyton Manning admits no delays or rationalizations. What he has given me and so many other people can´t simply be summed up by his win-loss record, or by his Superbowl win. No, most significant of all was the fact that even on the (rare) occasions he wasn´t winning, I was emotionally all in on him, I was ecstatic to be cheering for him, because of what he embodied, beyond being the Colts´QB, beyond even his football brilliance. So many times you´ll see athletes who are in it for themselves and just pay lip service to the idea of collective greatness. Peyton belongs to the rarest of tribes, that of unbelievably talented players who honor the game by being the best they can be inspired by their utter love of the game. He´s the epitome of the skilled overachiever that inspires everyone to greatness around him thanks to his pure devotion for football. Whether he´s just come off a Superbowl win, an MVP trophy or the most crushing of defeats, Peyton always throws himself harder into his training, because he´s aware that however much he´s done for football, football has given him more. That kind of generosity, of sincerity in effort, is something that is so truly awe-inspiring I would honestly feel thrilled to discuss 18 even in the most serious and ceremonial of settings, even amidst people I highly respect who would see football as nothing but a trivial loss of time.
That´s how much Peyton Manning means to me.
I may love Dallas Clark, I may love Gary Brackett, I may love Jeff Saturday, but none of them would have been capable of making me feel what I felt during Peyton´s last press conference as a Colt. That maëlstrom of emotions I felt is something I will always remember and cherish bittersweetly (the neologism was necessary), because it was greatness that had engendered the pain, it was greatness that had engendered this defining love. And I defy anyone to come up to me and ask me to leave something so unique behind, as if it were a perishable toy.
I have ready many of your posts (and not to undermine any of them) this was your best.
Great, great stuff.
@DougEngland Thanks for those kind words, DougEngland. I´m just really invested in all this, as I know many of us are here ("we´re all mad here"). For me, seeing other people display passion makes me eager to understand it and soar to new heights, so your comment thrills me.
@Goéland On a purely rational level sports are kind of silly (line up in weird esoteric formations in order to throw a ball down a field and across a line some arbitrary distance away, it's kind of bizarre), but sports are about so much more than the simple game itself. I could write a whole separate article on what sports mean to me, and it would likely span several thousand words, but there's really no need because everything you just said sums it up pretty succinctly.
@Colt_Following I vote for your next article to be several thousand words about what sports me to you. Seriously; it'd be a great read.
I love the guys that see it as crazy and just do their own thing.
The New Yorker had an article about a male basketball coach of a young girls team winning a lot of their games because he thought outside the box.
" Ranadivé was puzzled by the way Americans played basketball. He is from Mumbai. He grew up with cricket and soccer. He would never forget the first time he saw a basketball game. He thought it was mindless. Team A would score and then immediately retreat to its own end of the court. Team B would inbound the ball and dribble it into Team A’s end, where Team A was patiently waiting."..
lol - and the guy had great success because he knew the absurdity of tradional ways of playing..
Trent Dilfer on ESPN was predicting last night the success of Cam Newton.. Vick.. and Griffin because defenses can't stop this new method of run and shoot style play that colleges had done but the NFL thought wouldn't work.. you see it again and again.. old style crap being questioned.. something new being adopted.. eventually it becomes standard.. then someone thinks outside the box.. etc
@JamesAndrew1 @Colt_Following I´ve read that article about that atypical basketball coach before, and it was indeed a great read about the power of thinking outside the box, as you say. However, regarding the NFL and running QBs, I´m loathe to declare their era a reality yet, simply because even if they´ve had some measure of success already, it´s still been inconsistent, so much so other teams still haven´t made it a point to build their gameplans around it, and furthermore, we still haven´t begun seeing the long-term consequences on their health. Vick´s, who´s been in the league the longest and has thus been exposed to big hits the longest, has already raised serious concern about his ability to stay on the field. What use is it to build your team around a great weapon that will inevitably fade away as the season progresses? There´s still not an answer about that. Plus, imagine those QBs coming to the realization that playing that way will make their career last for only 6 or 7 years, I´d imagine it would make GMs and coaches very wary.
I am a Colts and Manning fan. I don't apologize. He put the Colts on the map. I'll forever appreciate him and what he did for the Colts. I'll only root against him, when it is advantageous for the Colts. This idea works both wys though. I never liked Ron Artest. I root like crazy for the Pacers. I wanted him to be successful here, for the team, but really wanted the team to win in spite of him. People that only root for laundry are how we get situations like Bob Knight. The love for the laundry and the wins allowed him to behave I appropriately for far too long. People were blinded by the trophies and refused to see that while he was a great coach (one of the greatest of all time) he was a pretty lousy person. Blind love and/or faith is dangerous in all parts of life. This is true in love, religion, and even sports.
@Music Man I agree with you. In some ways we are fortunate to root for small market teams, some of the inequity that exists in other sports especially in big markets has got to give pause even to the most loyal of fans. Yes it's a product of the system that they operate in, but is cheering for a team with a clear unfair advantage (Lakers, Yankees, Red Sox, etc.) really that satisfying in the end? That would be tough for me. It's really what makes the NFL the best sport in America at the very least. I will say, I liked Ron Artest for most of his tenure here (the madman with a heart of gold), but the Malice in the Palace destroyed the Pacers and they are just now beginning to recover... hard to forgive him for that, even if he was provoked.
Seriously, really good article, Josh. While I can understand the other perspective (at least in theory), I'm with you completely.
I wonder if it comes down to the underlying reasons that people are fans of the sport? It seems to me that your friend's 'team, not players' view would be satisfying because it allows for clear-cut loyalties; a simple ruleset for fandom of the kind that rarely holds up in the real world. But that your 'players, plus team(s)' view is satisfying because it allows for flexibility and interpretation. Personally, I think the NFL is a lot more fun because I'm free to temporarily like another team because they run an entertaining offense, or a completely different kind of defense than the Colts -- or because they're just plain awesome -- and those are my choices to make from week to week and year to year.
Also, I think there's a pragmatic element to my approach. While it might dilute the highs to not be 100% all in on the Colts, compared to the fans who suffered for 20+ years before seeing THEIR TEAM win it all, it certainly raises the lows, like going 2-14.
@pierrezombie the truth is, at least in my experience, that people generally prefer simplicity to flexibility. You could point to numerous consumer studies that show that when a product line is shrunk, sales actually go up. People like easy decisions, too much choice is actually demotivating. Choosing between a player and a team is just one more thing most people probably don't want to deal with (especially considering the potential scorn you'll get from fans within your own team that reject your "wishy-washy" stance on fan loyalty). I'm not saying that the primary cause, or even a major cause, of the sort of "you're either with us or against us" false dichotomy fallacies that I talk about in the article, I do believe that many people genuinely find it distasteful and that it comes from a place of good-natured respect for the team.
@Colt_Following Yeah, I think simplicity vs. flexibility is a good way to frame it. (Or, perhaps, simplicity vs. complexity.) I considered putting it in terms of passive vs. active fandom, above, but didn't want 40 replies saying, "Screw you! I'm not a passive fan, you traitor! Go Colts!"
@Colt_Following @pierrezombie Completely true, and it´s a great way to respect other people´s leanings in a way that makes it possible to enjoy good-natured banter and rivalry while sharing the passion. My only caveats to this are allegiances that ignore deeper problems with your teams, such as serial cheating or criminal acts by your flag bearers. But otherwise yeah, I wouldn´t want a world where nobody roots fanatically for a team I couldn´t give a fig about. Rock on, Senators fans ! (it is Greg´s NHL team, right?)
@pierrezombie Yeah, it's all a bit ridiculous when you really think too much about it. In the end watching sports is all about enjoyment and camaraderie (and the pain is a necessary part of that), so whatever works for the individual is fine with me. I try very hard not to dictate terms to others, especially about something as personal as sports allegiances.
@Colt_Following Maybe another way to slice and dice this is as Joiners vs. Loners. Many people are predisposed to be part of a group -- a club, an organization, whatever -- and seem happy to give it their allegiance and singular loyalty. Others are always looking for an excuse to buck the norm, to self-identify as being apart from the mainstream. (Even if that's just falling into the trap of the narcissism of minor differences.)
I'm in the latter group, so it's both easier and more fun to pick and choose my loyalties as a fan. I like this team, but also those other players; and I dislike that city's team, even if they switch to a new city and get a new name; and I hate that team's laundry, even if they change its colors, etc.
I can't even fathom how people can drop the GOAT, the guy who put your franchise, and even, to a lesser extent, your city, on the map and act like he doesn't exist anymore. It's not like he said "eff you guys, you're not respecting me, I want out." Even as the empire was crumbling around him he STILL wanted to stay and serve us. Broncos are nothing less than my 1b. Colts will always be number 1 and I have no problem rooting for them in any meeting with Denver, but for the time being I'm going out of my way to watch Broncos games, still root for Peyton over Brady in forums, etc.
Great piece, but I take issue with an oversimplification: "A common refrain, one that I hear all across the internet Colts’ communities that I frequent, is if you wear a Peyton Manning jersey to a Colts’ game you’re a turncoat, a traitor, disloyal, unsupportive, a Peyton Manning fan, not a real Colts’ fan, a Dolt."I don't think it's if you wear a Manning jersey, full stop. It's if you purchase and wear a Manning BRONCOS jersey, wearing it to Colts games, etc. Then? Yes, I consider you a Dolt. A bandwagon fan. A fairweather fan. Only slightly above those who just sell off their tickets at the first sign of a bad season (I'm looking at you, everyone whose seats were filled by Vikings fans yesterday).
Maybe I just "root for the laundry", but I'm a fan of the team, the franchise. I root for specific players on that team, that franchise, in the time they spend there but if they move on? Best of luck to them but I'm not going to go around rooting for them and wearing the jersey of another team. I'll value the memories of their time here. Doesn't mean I need to start hitting the bar to watch the Broncos vs Oakland and wear that hideous orange and blue.
So yes, he *IS* just a player on another team now. Sucks to say it, but there you go. I'll certainly still wear my _COLTS_ #18... but you won't catch me dead in a Broncos jersey.
@jdb BUT, not everybody feels that way, and I don't think that it's fair to say they are bandwagon or fair weather fans if they still root for those other players. Heck, I still root for guys like Kelvin Hayden, Justin Snow, even Tim Jennings just because I got to know them as Colts, and I have a stronger feeling towards them than I do for random NFL players. Until they play the Colts, I have no problem rooting for them.
When it comes to Peyton, it's a whole nother level. You can still root for the Colts through thick and thin, yet be a die-hard, watch every Peyton game as well. Heck, some may even root for Peyton to beat the Colts at times, like if it would mean an all-time record for him vs. a meaningless game for the Colts. Does that make them less of fans? Well, they're not as die-hard Colts fans as most of us on these boards are, but that doesn't mean they are bandwagon fans.
@Kyle Rodriguez I agree with you Kyle. (Well, except for the part about rooting for Tim Jennings.)
The main thing is that Peyton did not quit or give up on the Colts... the Colts decided to part ways with him.
But as someone who has lived and died with every play for the last 14 years with #18, just because my team severed ties, doesn't mean I can. I mean whenever I see his departure Presser and he says "I have truly enjoyed being your QB" I tear up every time.
I haven't missed a single play of a Colts game in 15 years. (The Sports Bar that I watch the games at, even has a TV dedicated for me, as last year Colts fans down here in Orlando were few and far between.)
But I couldn't quit Peyton Manning any more than i could quit breathing. (And just like always, a piece of me figuratively died with every pcik he threw last night.)
@DougEngland @Kyle Rodriguez Wonderful comment. And you can add me to the contingent of "tears up every time I watch him say - I have truly enjoyed being YOUR QB". Ye gads, it hurts like a truck every single time (even just remembering it).
As for last night, I don´t know, on the one hand it was painful, because I think he´s still a little bit out of rythm and still a little (a little) bit off in terms of arm strength, but on the other hand, it was also really, really enjoyable for me. This was Peyton, on MNF, in a hard place, against a good team (not great, but legitimately good this year, unlike the Steelers last week), down 20-0 with 4 turnovers, and there was still a point where he took control of the game, where you knew his brilliance was marching down the field and making it happen. It was a deserved loss, but at the same time, it was a near-dominating comeback. For his second game, I felt grateful, you know?
@jdb That's fair. I'm honestly at odds with myself on this issue as well. When I spoke of cognitive dissonance it was in no small measure a reference to my own struggle with the dichotomy of franchise vs. player. The thought of wearing another team's jersey is gag inducing, but it's also, from a purely philosophical perspective, not that different from say, adopting a home team when you move to a new city while still rooting for the team you grew up with. The Peyton Manning situation is obviously unique, and not quite a direct facsimile to the Brett Favre departure (as I somewhat imply in the piece), I would certainly never expect to see a Packers' fan wearing a Brett Favre Vikings jersey (at least not one who is still breathing), but Peyton didn't okey-doke the franchise, he left on better than good terms with the fan base.
I certainly respect the feeling that it's time to move on, that Peyton is no longer a Colt, and that it's counterproductive to dwell on the past, but at the same time I'm not wired to simply divorce myself from years of fanatic devotion. Ask me again tomorrow though, my opinion might change.
I'm a curious character, very much rebellious.
And I can't distance myself from the idea that *the owner* is the one in charge of the team.. and players are like myself - sort of powerless.. and are just exchangable pawns.. seen in that light.. I feel more for Manning... because Irsay just drafted him.. and (even though Polian... Mora.. Dungry.. the trainers.. the coaches.. etc.. facilitated his growth by being the provided support system) a lot of his own mental kinks and growth mindset is responsibile for the success of the franchise... so I have a hard time just saying "oh.. well f the player.. lets cheer on the new guy'..
(It's like with the Steelers when they kept drafting wide receivers to replace Hines Ward.. and I thought even Marvin Harrison was pissed when the team drafted Reggie Wayne.. look at the Jaguars history of trying to replace the receiving prowess of Jimmy Smith! .. so I just know players make the team (as Tom Moore says) and owners can sometimes strick gold and be lucky.. we'll see if we're lucky or Manning was the reason!)
@JamesAndrew1 @Colt_Following @jdb There´s no doubt Peyton is responsible by himself of a lot of the Colts´ success. I mean, it would be deluded to say he singlehandedly did it all, not when he had one of the greatest GMs of all-time behind the scenes orchestrating the modern NFL´s most consistent string of wins, and Dungy turning the team around, and Marvin providing an aerial attack second to none, and Freeney dismantling the opponent´s OL, and soon and so forth. But still, if anybody says Peyton was a product of the system, well, I don´t know what they´re smoking. The Colts definitely owe a lot a lot to Manning´s singular quirks and will-power. So yes, it is a really personal debt.
@Colt_Following That's a good point about adopting a new home team after a move. I guess once you've done that, it makes all sports fandom seem relative. Especially if, like me, you made that kind of move in the era before the web and 24/7 cable sports and NFL Sunday Ticket. (Yeah, I'm old.)
Back when there were at best three games on TV per week, and virtually no way to see detailed coverage of your old team outside of it's media market unless they made the playoffs... It was pretty hard/miserable to maintain that old loyalty.
@Colt_Following @pierrezombie It´s absolutely true that geographic distance can make a world of difference. For many people who live locally and are first and foremost about team loyalty, they get to share that passion with the people around them and feel so much stronger because of the outpouring of similar emotions around them. But not everybody can maintain such a connection to only one place, and nobody likes being lonely when it comes down to the the things that mean the most.
@pierrezombie I haven't yet had that experience, but I expect at some point I will. I'll always be a Colts' fan first, but I don't think it will be a major crisis of faith to also adopt a second, or third team as well.
Excellent piece! I will never understand the people who claim that one cannot be both a Peyton Manning fan and a Colts fan. Anyone who can simply brush aside a player who gave so much to the franchise, the city and the fans is, in my experience, not a big Colts fan in the first place. Anyone that I know with that opinion does not follow or truly make any kind of emotional investment in the team. Many of us are proud of our irrational fanatic status for our team and players both past and present! Go Colts! And Peyton F. Manning!
@bradicus18 Absolutely. Why pick just one?
@Colt_Following Yeah. Can I admit to cheering for Edgerin, Bob (as short lived as his SD stay was), and even Raheem Brock when they moved on? Oh, and was I the only person who was just a little happy for Timmy Jennings to play well for the Bears over the past few years (excluding Week 1 this season, damn him)? I used to beat up on that kid all the time.