Peyton Manning and Wife Ashley Show True Class by Honoring Ray Lewis

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJanuary 14, 2013

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 12:  Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos looks on from the sideline against the Baltimore Ravens during the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 12, 2013 in Denver, Colorado. The Ravens won 38-35 in the second overtime.  (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

There will be plenty of opinions about Peyton Manning's performance on Saturday against the Baltimore Ravens, and you have probably read about his playoff record or about the Denver Broncos' bizarre decision not to go for the win with 30 seconds left in regulation plenty of times already.

So we won't cover that here. Instead, there was a moment after the game between Manning and Ray Lewis that was, well, really awesome.

Peter King of Sports Illustrated introduces the scene, as Lewis returns to Baltimore's locker room after an interview to find Manning and his family waiting for him:

There was Manning, waiting in a charcoal suit with his wife, Ashley, and their 21-month-old son, Marshall. Hugs all around.

Ashley Manning, hugging Lewis, said: "I'm not very happy, but I'm happy for you,'' and she sounded like she meant it.

Peyton and Lewis talked quietly, out of earshot, for four minutes. It's right that no one would hear it. Manning had a sad smile most of the time, and Lewis a wide one.

Game recognizes game, right?

That's one classy move by Peyton and his wife, especially after such a brutal loss. Plus, it led to one of the best pictures from the past weekend taken by Chad Steele, Director of Media Relations for the Baltimore Ravens:

Great moment @ 1.5 hours after the game, Peyton Manning and his family waited to congratulate #ravens…

— Chad Steele (@CSteele32) January 13, 2013

If I were to guess, I would say that Marshall was barking out audibles during this picture. Like father, like son.

Anyway, we return to King's excerpt for the heartwarming conclusion to our story:

I heard only one word out of either man, standing a few yards away, and it was Lewis saying, "Respect.'' Not sure of the context, but come on. Connect the dots.

The buses were waiting for Lewis, and he had to go, but Ashley said, with a touch of the fan in her, and knowing that Marshall Manning one day would appreciate it, "Can I get a picture?"

Peyton Manning, Ray Lewis, Marshall Manning. Smiling for the iPhone.

I know people have mixed feelings about Lewis as a man, and I don't really want to get into that here. But from a purely football perspective, that moment, between two titans of the game, was really, really cool.

And that will be one hell of a photograph for Marshall Manning to look back on in time.

Plus, Lewis is truly going to be missed around the NFL. He has been an ambassador of the game of football for a long time. Like Manning, he has become the type of figure the league can market. And, oh yeah, he was one of the greatest linebackers in history.

Maybe it's the sentimentalist in me, but I enjoy those moments when one legend pays his respect to another. Add Manning's family to the scene, and it was a classy gesture.

We get plenty of schadenfreude on Twitter from wannabe sports experts and stories about the failings and poor decisions made by athletes. Every once in a while, one icon genuinely paying his last respects to another is... well, it's nice.

And frankly, it's refreshing.


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