In most weeks, Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning obsesses over his focus on the football game to be played. This week is as different as any week of Peyton’s career ever had been, and he realizes that.
“I hope in the game that I can have a moment there to show how appreciative I am of the support that I had when I was playing here [in Indianapolis],” Manning tells NBC’s Bob Costas in an interview to be broadcast during Football Night in America (7:00 p.m. ET). “It’s a great place to play football, great fans. It’d be so much easier though if all you had to do was come out and wave and smile, but unfortunately, I’ve got to figure out how to dodge Robert Mathis all night and try complete a few passes.”
It’s still clear that, if Peyton had his way, he’d never have to dodge Mathis — unless Mathis ended up playing for another team. (Which likely would have happened if the Colts hadn’t dumped Peyton.)
It’s also clear that the Colts will ensure that fans have a full chance to show their appreciation for Manning. Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via SportsBusiness Daily) Colts employees “actually did a lot of game planning,” looking at “how other athletes have come back to other cities and the one comeback that it focused in on was Wayne Gretzky’s return to Edmonton.”
As Gretzky told Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times, Gretzky got a four-minute ovation in Edmonton, 25 years ago last night.
“The Colts wanted to see how to handle that tonight and they’re going to let that ovation go on and on,” Schefter said.
It likely won’t be as long as the Week One weather delay in Denver, but it could be long enough to distract Manning and disrupt his meticulous pre-game planning.
It’s hard to think that even the guy who’s only happy unless he’s unhappy about something would be unhappy about that.