Friday, March 16, 2012

Meeting Peyton Manning

OK, so I was planning on writing about the time that Aziz Ansari publicly mocked me in front of a large crowd of people while he was doing stand up, but that story is just gonna have to wait. Because while I was in the middle of writing about that experience, my roommate burst through the door (OK, he gently knocked and then came in, but that doesn't sound as dramatic) and informed me that the football God himself, Peyton Manning, recently worked out and practice with the Forty Fucking Niners!!!! My immediate reaction was this:
oh my god! oh my god! oh my god! They're going after him! They said they weren't, but they are! Harbaugh you brilliant fucking madman!!!!! Oh my god, oh my god...

Then I calmed down and realized that there was still a long way to go before this actually meant something. But then, in my excitement, I couldn't help but think back to one of the most cherished memories, possibly the most cherished memory, in my life. And that was the time I got to meet a Mr. Peyton Manning. And that is the story I will share with you now.

OK, so this story needs a little back story. As some of you know, most of my extended family (Aunts, Uncles, Grandparents, etc...) hail from the hilarious town of New Orleans. And as some of you also know, the Manning family also hail from the same town.

But what only a few of you know is that my cousin and Peyton went to the same school together and actually became good friends. Better still, my cousin was a wide receiver for the school's team which meant he was catching TD passes from none other than Peyton. Did your cousin catch TD passes from Peyton Manning? I don't think so. Clearly my cousin is better than your cousin.

Meanwhile, I am just a very little kid at this point and a die hard 9ers fan. From Montana to Young to Garcia (I don't care what anyone says, I always liked Garcia. Guy was a scrapper), I don't think anyone can argue that I had it good as football fan during my childhood years. Glorious times indeed.

OK so numerous years later, Peyton becomes the number one pick in the NFL and goes to the Indianapolis Colts. During that summer when I visited my family in New Orleans, I only heard about how I should watch out for Peyton and how much potential he had to be a superstar in the NFL.

So me, and my little brother, start watching his games with casual interest during his first season. And then with a little more interest during his second season. And by the third season we realized he was one of the best quarterbacks we had ever seen and he was only going to get better with time.

So I couldn't help myself, I became a huge Peyton Manning fan.

And let me tell you, this has been a huge bone of contention with a lot of my friends.
 How dare you say Peyton is your favorite player! You are a 49ers fan! You're a disgrace! Go watch the Colts, you traitor! 

This has been going on for the past 14 years now. And I'm not gonna lie, it still hurts. I can't say I didn't bring it on myself, as I did start to care more about watching Peyton play than the Niners play. I mean the Niners were awful for ten freakin' years, and in that time Peyton and the Colts created a dynasty that won more games in one decade than any other franchise in NFL history. Peyton broke records left and right, while the Niners gave us seven seasons of Alex Smith (I know, I know, he improved tremendously last year, but you can't say those first six years weren't hard to watch).

So yeah, I got a lot of shit for loving Peyton Manning when I was 'supposedly' a Niners fan. The term bandwagon fan as been thrown in my face more times than I care to remember. But you know what? It was worth it, because he was amazing to watch.

Now, fast forward to the summer of 2006, or the golden summer as I like to call it, because that was the summer I worked as an intern for Stuff Magazine in New York City. That was the summer where a lot of life goals were scratched off the list. Including meeting the great Peyton.

How did this come to be? Well, my cousin (yes the same one who caught TD passes from him) called me up one day and informed me that he was going to be attending a wedding in NYC, and that Peyton Manning would be there as well. Even better, he told me that the two of them would be at a post-wedding celebration in a Manhattan bar afterwards, and that if I wanted to I could drop by and meet him.

Obviously, this is something I very much wanted to do.

So on the night of the wedding I dressed in the nicest clothes I had (which was a clean t-shirt and khakis, I was an intern after all) and took the train to Midtown Manhattan.

I arrived at the bar and looked for the man who had become my football idol. After a little searching, I found him. He was standing by my cousin, drinking a beer and talking, like he was just some normal guy without a laser rocket arm. This threw me off, because I kind of thought he would be like ten feet tall and glowing, like some sort of huge illuminated football trophy of himself. But no, there he was, just this totally ordinary guy.

At this point, I start feeling cowardly, like I should walk out now before I embarrass myself. But I knew if I did that I would regret it for the rest of my life.

So I walked up to my cousin, and tapped him on the shoulder. Both him and Peyton looked over at me, and for a second I thought Peyton was going to suddenly bark: Hey, you can't just go around tapping people on the shoulder when I'm talking to them! I'm Peyton Manning goddamn it!

But that didn't happen. Instead, my cousin introduced me to number 18 and we shook hands.

"How do you like working for Stuff?" He asked. Holy God, my cousin and him were talking about me earlier.  Suddenly this seemed very significant at the time. And perhaps that would explain my odd rambling response that came flying out of my mouth.


Now this wasn't totally untrue. There was an article being planned for the Halloween issue about celebrities' favorite movies, but I was in no way working on it, nor was it my job in any way to go about asking celebrities what their favorite horror movie was. But I had just done that did. To Peyton Manning. And I asked it in a very fast and nervous manner, and I wasn't entirely sure if Peyton had comprehended what I had said.

 The next few seconds felt like years. I looked over to my cousin to see if he had understood me, but he was just looking down at the beer in his hand. I took this as a bad sign.

And then Peyton spoke:

"You know what movie always scared the hell out of me, Shaving Ryan's Privates. Don't watch that one alone."

Mother of God, I thought, did Peyton Manning just make a porn joke. This is indeed the best day of my life.

My response to this was less than epic. I chuckled nervously and then suddenly excused myself so I could get a drink at the bar.

I remember standing at the bar, wondering why I had just ran away from Peyton and his porno jokes. I'm such a failure, I thought. And then, as I paid for my $12 beer (this was Manhattan after all) I  suddenly realized what I needed to do.

I headed back to my cousin and Peyton and held my beer up in front of him.  

"Peyton," I said, making sure I spoke each word clearly and slowly. "I've been watching you for many years, and you're my favorite player. I would just like to take this time to cheers you, in hopes that next season you win the Superbowl."

Peyton made a face at this, not quite the Manning face, but definitely in that same vicinity, that seemed to suggest that he had heard this many many times. But in any case, he lifted his beer towards mine and we cheersed (sp?) for him to win the next Superbowl.

Now I have no doubt that many people have told Peyton Manning that they hope he wins a superbowl, but, how many of those people did it in the off-season before he won his first Superbowl. Probably none.

Except for me.

Now, I'm not saying I had anything to do with the Colts winning the Superbowl that next season, but I kinda do think that I had something to do with it. And honestly, I think deep down, Peyton feels the same. Clearly we are connected in some crazy way. We can't explain it, it's just the way it is. And that's why, even though it's a long shot that he'll be a 49er, if he does end up playing for the red and gold I will only have one thing to say to all the 49er fans out there:

You're welcome.

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