What Peyton Manning’s Injury Can Teach Us About Ourselves

Erik Cooper —  September 7, 2011 — Leave a comment

I’ve been handling the news of Peyton Manning’s neck injury surprisingly well. I’d like to believe it’s because I’ve matured emotionally in recent years and can now properly process the pure entertainment value of Colts football without pretending it has any stake in the outcome of the truly important things in life, like my health, or my relationship with God and my family.

But it’s probably just because the sedatives have finally kicked in.

Look, I pride myself on being a relatively calm, rational, processing person, but for some reason the Indianapolis Colts have always set off an irrational emotionalism in me. I yell at the television. I scream at opposing players. I sulk for days over losses. I can even scare small children with my random outbursts (yeah, I’m not proud).

3-13. 13-3. It doesn’t matter.

I’m a fanatic. I’ve been this way ever since my dad took me to their first home game in the old Hoosier Dome way back in September of 1984. There is no medication. I must live with this affliction.

So when the news of Manning’s indefinite departure hit the Twitter-sphere on Sunday night, I skipped the first 3 stages of grief and went right to freak-out (I’d been married only 3 years, was an aspiring accountant, and had no children last time someone besides Peyton Manning took the field as QB for the Colts).

But as my cheek lifted from a tear-stained pillow on Monday morning, this strange feeling had engulfed me. One I don’t think I’ve truly experienced in the past decade of watching Colts football.

Hope.

I know, I know, it sounds strange (and it may be mildly psychotic), but something shifted in my psyche. We’re no longer the favorites. We’re no longer the dominate. We’re scrappers again, heading into Sunday with the raw energy of a passionate imagination. A dream of something that seems so far out of reach (and very well might be).

But what if? Just what if?

I have to face the facts. For the last decade as a Colts fan, I’ve felt entitled.

Double-digit wins, MVP candidates, perennial playoff contenders, constant Super Bowl threat. They belonged to us. We owned them. And the goal has been to hang on tightly to our property. Whether in football, or in life, I’m not sure entitlement is how we were designed to live.

Hope looks forward in humility, and is driven by passion, creativity and imagination for what could be.

Entitlement looks backward with pride, and is fueled by a fear of keeping things we just assume should always belong to us.

Of course I’d rather be rooting for a Peyton Manning led Super Bowl contender (and I’ll be holding a candlelight prayer vigil for Peyton outside the Colts’ 56th St. complex every evening until he takes the field). But I’m always looking for little lessons in every arena of life, and I’m starting to think that a sense of entitlement is just one of those things we should chalk up to the loss column.

Do you ever wrestle with feeling entitled?

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