Jan 21, 2011

A Football Tale

Abigail and Dolley readers I would like to relate a story to you, a fictional "what if".

The story begins with Peyton Manning, three time MVP, Super Bowl Champ, and all around Super Star.  Towards the end of the season, he is heavily recruited by the Chicago Bears.  Peyton is happy with the Colts and he is honored and respected for his talent there.  He has a team around him that buys into his style of play and they have a genuine bonding and affection for one another.  At first he tells the Bears to go away, he is not interested.  Circumstances and life seem to interfere and after loosing the AFC title game and missing the Super Bowl the Colts freak out and all of a sudden the Bears offer becomes more interesting.

Peyton meets with the Bears and they, like the Colts are a good organization and have a lot of similarities.  They tell him they have always had Quarterbacks that hand off the ball and rush, but they want real talent.  They want to build the greatest football dynasty the world has ever seen and Peyton Manning in the vehicle they want to use.  They praise Peyton for his skills, not only on the field but in the locker room.  They know he brings understanding of the front office workings, the coaching, the training, the facilities, the ownership, and of course the game.  They make Peyton a very generous offer and tell him they are ready for him to come on board and help them build their dynasty.

With a heavy heart, Peyton leaves the Colts.  The city mourns, the players throw parties, the ownership laments, the fans are all very sad.  Peyton appreciates their love and support but is excited about the new opportunity.  The Bears have promised all this and more and it is time to move on.

From the first days of practice, he knows this is very different from the Colts.  All of the understanding and talents Peyton brings to the table are not needed at the Bears.  He has made his choice and as a man of honor he is determined that he will be successful, because he always has been.  Peyton is a winner and the Bears are paying him a good wage.  He works hard, although they don't want him to do what makes him great.

You see, the Bears are structured that everything is controlled.  Peyton does not have the freedom to make audibles at the line of scrimmage, the offensive coordinator calls in every play.  They have had bad QBs in the past and their structure dictates that this is how they do it, these are the rules, and Peyton needs to follow these rules.

Peyton is shocked to discover that they expect him to be a scrambling QB.  He has never done that in his career.  In opportunities, of course he can scramble, he does it well but judiciously and only when all other avenues of a play have broken down.  He is also disheartened to learn that his arm which is so good and so strong and made his career does not fit into the playbook, he is merely to hand off the ball to the players around him.

The players around him are adequate and some of them are even pretty good, but they are not allowed to buy into Peyton's philosophy in the locker room.  The front office is always there making sure Peyton does not bring his aspect of the game to the other players.  You see, the Bears have their own idea of what a locker room is supposed to be.

The draft rolls around and Peyton has great ideas about new players to recruit and trades to make.  A couple of the key players that Peyton has played with in the past are available.  The Bears have people to do that, so they tell Peyton, thanks, but we have our team.  Peyton is once again bemused, but they are paying him to play for them and that is what he is going to do.

After the first preseason game, the coach makes a comment that all the other QB's they have had were scramblers and they were successful at it, Peyton should start scrambling.  Peyton furls his brow and says, "But I have never been a scrambling QB only when I absolutely have too, but I guess I could try."  He never gets off the line of scrimmage, he's not that kind of player.

The Bears bring in an outside trainer to show Peyton how to scramble.  Peyton trains with the trainer, learns what he is telling him, and starts practicing.  They are asking him to change his whole game and it is going to take a little time, Peyton is not a rookie and he has a style that will take him a while to unlearn.  The new moves don't come naturally to him but he tries.  After the second preseason game, they see that he is trying, but he is not getting the job done the way they like.

The Coaches and the front office look at him and he is nothing they want him to be.  He is merely a high priced player that can't scramble and you don't need Peyton Manning to hand off the ball.  So three games into the preseason they release him.  He wasn't what they thought, they say.  He's never going to be a scrambling QB and that is what they want, that is what fits their structure and their rules.

So all of the things that make Peyton Manning special were not used or in the end wanted by the Bears.  He has failed there.  Are the Bears a bad organization, no they simply thought they wanted something but they did not.  No one likes ever thinks they are in the wrong and they tell themselves it was Peyton that did not understand what they wanted of him, not that they had changed their minds.  Peyton Manning would have never left the Colts had he known what the Bears expected of him, why would he do something so foolish?

The good news is that the arm that had been giving him trouble is rested and healed.  He also learned from the Bears and the outside trainer.  He watched and absorbed because some of the things the Bears did were great, he just did not fit.  He leaves the Bears facility that day with his pockets empty, they pay him nothing.

As he walks to his car, his ego is bruised, but he's still Peyton Manning.  He's always been great but the Bears don't need him and he's tired.  He knows what he has to do, the Lord has laid it on his heart.  There is a new mission for Peyton Manning, a new road he is to travel, and the greatness of his football career is nothing compared to the new adventure ahead.

In this story, faithful Abigail and Dolley readers, your humble author is Peyton Manning.  I am indeed looking forward to the greatness ahead.  I can only pray that unlike in this story the company that lured me away from my great job will do right by me now that I have been released.  When I left on Thursday I had no answers about severance.  I am the sole supporter of my household and can only pray that God through men will take care of me and my family while I pursue other roads.

Thank you for your prayers, faithful readers!  I need them.