The day has finally come, that for all my life, I feared of facing as a true admirer of yours for the last 15 years of my life. The day that you would announce your retirement from the game of football and play your last snap in the National Football League. Ever since I began following football, I always remained unsure of what Sundays would feel like in the fall, when I would never be able to watch No. 18 take the field. And yet, here we are in 2016, and for some odd reason, this day doesn’t feels as bad as I feared it would, because you retired on top, not only as the holder of arguably the greatest resume in the history of the game, but as a Super Bowl champion.
Growing up, much like any other Hoosier child who enjoyed participating in sports, I always looked up to you as a true hero of mine. Every Sunday I would sit in my living room, representing in my No. 18 jersey, and cheering you and that great team of the previous decade on to many victorious seasons. Watching you do many things on the field that had never been done in the history of the game was truly special, and I could not have been more honored and proud to be one of many witnesses to your greatness. However, your leadership and demonstration as a role model for me personally, went much beyond the game of football, as through your actions on and off the field, I learned many lessons that I apply towards my life each day.
For some people, many assume that being as great as you were and what led to all of your success, was naturally given from the Manning gene. However, I quickly realized that was not the case at all, as I began to hear about how much dedication and work you put in behind the scenes of what took place on the football field. Every day, I would read and hear in the press about how you were always the first and last to leave the team’s facility. How you would work countless hours going through reps with your wide receivers, to perfect every route ran and the timeliness and accuracy of every pass you threw. Then, whether it was at home or at the complex, I always heard about how much time you constantly spent on studying film and breaking down every defense that you would face. As a result, every time you took the field, it was clear as I watched, that I realized that if you put in countless hours of hard-work and dedication towards anything you love, you will always find the success that you seek.
Outside of the game, you were also highly involved in the community of Indianapolis and in the state of Indiana, which always made me proud to be a Hoosier and always drove me to do what I could to help the place that I was from. Never before, had this state, which never quite caught many people’s attention, had someone represent us quite the way you did on a national level. We were Indiana, home of the city of Indianapolis, which inhabited the best quarterback in the world, Peyton Manning, and the Indianapolis Colts. Your presence here not only attracted a spotlight to our state and the city of Indianapolis, but helped attract business and many other things that elevated that city to a whole other level, not to mention a brand new state-of-the-art stadium, which led to the right of hosting the single-greatest spectacle in the world of sports, the super bowl.
So as you say goodbye to the game in which you dedicated 18 years of your life to professionally, I just wanted to say thank you for many things. Thank you for what you did for the Colts organization and bringing the Hoosier state its first world championship. Thank you for changing the culture and national attention that shines brightly on the city of Indianapolis today. Thank you for teaching me lessons through example both on and off the field, which I have applied towards my life to make me successful. Thank you Peyton, for everything.
Sincerely your fan and admirer,