Like may Idyllwilders, I’m not much of a sports fanatic, but Sunday’s outcome of Super Bowl 50 was something special to me in a very personal way. Before the game, both quarterbacks were interviewed. Peyton Manning was asked, “What do you want your legacy to be?”
His answer was simple: “I want to be respected.”
For me as a fan, that respect was earned on the gridiron, but not during a football game. When Junior Seau took his own life in May 2012, presumably due to concussion complications from football-related poundings he’s taken over the years, there was a memorial event for him at San Diego’s Qualcomm Stadium. I was there.
As I sat and mourned with about 25,000 others, I heard a man with binoculars sitting behind me say, “Hey, there’s Peyton Manning.” I looked down onto the field, and there he was.
And from that day until now, I’ve been a Peyton Manning fan. Not for his stats or his accomplishments over his storied career, but because of the class he showed by going out of his way to come out and support the Seau family and comfort them at their point of greatest tragedy.
He didn’t have to do that. With all of his successes, fame and fortune, he could have stayed away. But he didn’t. And as far as I know, no one ever reported his being there that day. But I witnessed it.
And for me, I say, “Well done, Mr. Manning. You have earned my respect. And congratulations on the win.”