Saturday, October 19, 2013

How Can You Not Love a Good Sports Story?

No, I don't mean Field of Dreams or Sandlot, much as I love both.

I'm talking about a great storyline that unfolds within the world of real professional sports. We have such a narrative this Sunday when the Denver Broncos travel to Indianapolis to face the Colts in Peyton Manning's first game back since signing with Denver a year and a half ago after Indy all but kicked him to the curb. Most games that I watch with my girlfriend, I try to provide some sort of context as to why it's important, or supplemental information like who each of the guys are married to/dating, what legal trouble they might be in, etc.. This story, though, should sell itself. 

The beauty of real life sports stories like this is that we get to superimpose our own drama onto it - the drama there is real, I defy anyone to watch on Sunday and not feel it - but we also get to draw our own analogies and metaphors, imagine what Peyton, Andrew Luck, or the Colt fanbase might be thinking or feeling, and spin a good story into a great one. At least that's what I can do. You can do whatever you want. Here's how I see the story leading into Sunday night...

After a Hall of Fame 14 years, The Colts let Peyton Manning enter into free agency because he was coming off a neck surgery and they had the no.1 pick, which they planned on using on Manning's heir apparent, Andrew Luck out of Stanford. 

This was basically how the conversation went down between Manning and the Colts brass.

Manning has become famous for his diligence and hard work, so he knew he'd play football again, leaving Indy on this note:

and this one

Manning ended up in Denver, and the following season each team enjoyed success as each QB (Luck a rookie, Manning a veteran in a new city) exceeded expectation. It was unprecedented how both sides were doing so well so fast after that break up. So after one season, the Manning break up seemed less an Adele sob story and more like this:

So now both parties have found new attractive partners. The Colts and Broncos' success in 2012 has both of them thinking Super Bowl this year, and this week they play each other in Indianapolis. And thus, Peyton is heading home. He's bumping into his ex at a bar, for all of America to see. 

Wonder if he's read this? 

All week long on ESPN Radio, they played this song with soundbites over it of the Colts winning the Super Bowl, Peyton's tearful goodbye to Indy, and other notable moments from his career. It was pretty cool. 

Adding fuel to the proverbial fire of buildup and anticipation was Colts owner Jim Irsay, who said a bunch of stuff that made him sound a little ungrateful for Peyton's 10+ years of service and accomplishments. Nevertheless, apparently there will be a long pregame ceremony and video montage honoring Manning. I'm really looking forward to it, and wondering if it will be done the right way. So many of these tributes and ceremonies can just come off as cheesy or forced. The Colts should bring in Joe Girardi as a consultant for the ceremony after he choreographed the masterpiece "righty relief" move a few weeks ago for Mariano Rivera's exit. 

That's how you do it. So there will be lots of pomp and circumstance and emotion before the game, and then when it kicks off, another chapter will be written. Will Peyton want to absolutely stick it to his old team and owner, like a jolted ex-girlfriend showing that she's "still got it"? Will Andrew Luck shine against a Denver defense that just let up a few touchdowns to Jacksonville, but also just got Von Miller back? I'm sure Colts fans will have mixed emotions, and plenty of fans from both teams will be feeling like this guy and girl. 

Enjoy the drama folks. 

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