It’s tough trying to write a sports column when you are a small town sports editor these days.
For one thing, there are no sports to report.
And, nationally, most of the news is about when sports should return. Some people feel it is safe to start playing games right now. Others say we should be extremely cautious.
I figure that you have already been bombarded with enough opinions on the coronavirus. I certainly do not have any new thoughts or insights on this subject. Of course, I would love for all sports to return soon. But, I just hope everyone keeps themselves and their families safe.
So, instead what I thought I would do is tell you about the time that I met Peyton Manning.
Peyton and I have a few things in common.
He was born two days before me in 1976. And, we both have had a long lustrous career working in the sports industry. He played in football games. And I still write about football games.
I met Peyton in 1998 in New Orleans. It was the only time I have ever been to Mardi Gras. I did not meet Peyton at Bourbon Street. Instead, I was with a group of friends on a lesser known street and we were watching one of the smaller parades during the afternoon.
A friend of mine spotted Peyton across the street. Being a big sports fan, I was nervous just looking at him. In 1998, there wasn’t a bigger sports star to a Southern kid than Peyton Manning. He had just completed his senior season at Tennessee, and everyone knew he was going to be the first pick in the NFL Draft.
“Hey, let’s go get our pictures taken with Peyton Manning,” my friend said.
So, he started walking and I followed.
I took the first picture.
Then, I handed the camera over to my friend and introduced myself to Peyton.
My conversation with him lasted less than 30 seconds.
“It looks like you are going to the Jets,” I said.
“No, it is probably going to be the Colts,” he replied.
That is all I remember about the conversation, but what struck me was what a nice guy he seemed to be. He must have had a thousand people come up to him that day and bother him for a picture or an autograph, but he certainly did not make me or my friend feel like we were intruding.
Of course, you can never know a person only by meeting him for a few seconds. But, I do think that often your first instinct about someone is the right instinct.
Peyton always comes across on TV like a good and honest dude. That is why companies like Nationwide and Papa Johns pay him millions of dollars to do commercial for them.
There is a golf match on television Sunday. It will pit Peyton Manning and Tiger Woods against Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady. It is on TNT at 2 p.m.
I think I will be rooting for Peyton to win this match. Tom Brady may have won more Super Bowls than Peyton, but Peyton has always seemed like a more down-to-earth person.
Even though Peyton went to the University of Tennessee, over the years he has won me over by always carrying himself as a class act.
Besides, we are old friends.