The biggest story in sports today, as it will be for many days to come, of course, is that after months of speculation, the Indianapolis Colts have decided to part ways with their superstar quarterback Peyton Manning, according to ESPN.
The four-time NFL MVP has played his entire 14-year career with the Colts. He led the team to 11 playoff berths, two conference championships and one Super Bowl victory. Peyton was the city’s shining star, the Colts' savior, the face of their franchise.
In short, Peyton Manning was the Indianapolis Colts. In fact, he was so much the key to their success that without him last year (he was recovering from a serious neck injury), the team, his team, went 2-14.
OK, so what does this have to do with the Phillies?
If you had asked most football fans and analysts even a year ago they would have said, without a doubt, that Peyton Manning would play his entire career and retire as an Indianapolis Colt. It would have been unthinkable to most Colts fans that they would ever have to watch their superstar quarterback wearing the uniform of another team. Even Peyton himself said that he hoped to retire as a Colt.
But that was not to be. If Peyton Manning can be let go by the Colts, is nothing sacred in the world of sports? Yes, I know in the end all sports is a business, ruled by the mighty dollar. I saw Moneyball.
But what does this have to do with the Phillies? OK, be patient. It’s coming.
The thought I’ve had this morning watching all the “where will Peyton go” coverage and seeing the incredible highlights of his storied career is that I’m truly glad that the Phillies re-signed Jimmy Rollins this offseason.
I know the situations are not identical. And I know that there are many Phillies fans who think Rollins is past his prime, that he’s a lousy leadoff hitter or just that it was time for a change. I get that, and those arguments can be made. But there’s another argument that can be made as well.
That there is something to be said for making that extra effort to keep the face of your franchise.
That there is something special, especially these days, to see an athlete spend his entire career in one city, with one team.
That there is a place for tradition, even emotion, in sports.
Yes, it’s an intangible, not necessarily a dollars-and-cents decision. Billy Beane would not approve.
But I do, wholeheartedly. And on Opening Day when I hear, “Leading off for the Phillies, at shortstop, Jimmy Rollins,” I, for one, will be proudly standing and cheering in my living room glad to see J-Roll back where he belongs.
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