A year ago, I found myself staring into an infinite abyss. The Indianapolis Colts had announced that they were releasing the face of their franchise, and my childhood hero, Peyton Manning. Speculation spread like wildfire indicating that the perennial Pro Bowler, the Super Bowl MVP, Mr. “Cut That Meat” himself was unlikely to return to the gridiron at his elite level due to recurring neck injuries. To me, this was like finding out Santa Claus isn’t real, Patrick Swayze lost his battle with cancer, another attempt of a modern Superman movie was in production, and so forth. The end of an era was believed to be approaching, and it was a tough pill to swallow.
Then it happened. Denver Broncos General Manager, John Elway, found a way to become more awesome. A former quarterback who experienced a similar battle with proving skeptics wrong, Elway aligned himself with the fellow gunslinger and the rest was history. The following season, a physically and mentally rejuvenated Peyton Manning returned to the field as the Denver Broncos starting QB and showed no rust. In fact, the Tennessee alum had one of the most decorated seasons of his prolific career, taking his team to the playoffs as the #1 seed and finishing 2nd in MVP voting. People said he should hang it up. Call it a career. Instead, Manning proved his doubters wrong and made his return to NFL dominance. He also became an endorser for tapenade. Stud.
It’s stories like this that exemplify the romance that sports can achieve. The glory, heartbreak, and the unknown are what make fans so passionate. Whether it’s the electricity that runs through the sections of a stadium after a walk-off homerun for the home team, or the venom that fans wear on their sleeves when their star player lets them down, sports bring people together. Sports bring revenue to cities. Sports bring excitement to life. My name’s Justin Salmasi, and I love sports.