The lasting image of Peyton Manning the Indianapolis Colt will be him standing behind the podium at his final press conference, choking up as he said farewell to the city he carried to a Super Bowl title.
“Thank you very much from the bottom of the heart,” Manning said. “I truly have enjoyed being your quarterback. Thank you.”
It was a classy move. And during his 14-year NFL career, “class” may be the word that has best described Manning.
So perhaps it’s no surprise that Manning continues to express his gratitude to those who were a part of his incredible run in Indy. But how often have you picked up the phone and heard the person on the other end say, “Hi, it’s Peyton Manning. I just wanted to say thanks.”
That’s precisely what several Indianapolis area reporters heard on Thursday (or something of the ilk) as Manning called a reporter to personally thank him for covering him over the years.
Longtime Indianapolis Star reporter Phillip B. Wilson was one of the lucky recipients.
Stunned today to receive cell call from Peyton Manning. Former #Colts QB is calling writers to thank them for their work over the years.— Phillip B Wilson (@pwilson24) April 12, 2012
Manning said he hoped he could stay with #Colts, but understands the biz. He told me to pass along to the fans how much he appreciated them.— Phillip B Wilson (@pwilson24) April 12, 2012
That's the first time I've ever received a good-bye call from a #Colts player in my journalism career. Classy move. Wished him the best.— Phillip B Wilson (@pwilson24) April 12, 2012
The call prompted a written response from Wilson on his Colts blog.
I’ve always said Manning is the most clever athlete I’ve ever dealt with when it came to how to handle the media. And while his critics will suggest this was just a PR move, I’ll confess I initially thought I wouldn’t write anything about the call. I didn’t want anybody to think it was about me.
But when I told him that it was a privilege to watch him play and write about him all these years, I added that I respect his so many fans here in Indianapolis and always would, that I hear from them every day it seems, so many who will never accept that he’s gone.
As he expressed as his farewell presser last month, he said, “Tell the fans I appreciated them, too.”
As difficult as Manning’s departure from the Colts was for all parties, it’s clear he wanted to leave on good terms. He didn’t have to attend the press conference announcing he was being replaced by an unproven rookie prospect, but, from all we’ve seen of Manning through the years, who would have expected anything less?
The Denver Broncos have made no secret of their excitement over his arrival. From the coaching staff, to the fans and the players. Sure, Tim Tebow was a cultural phenomenon, but Manning should provide several immediate upgrades.
Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas, for one, wasn’t “sad” to see Tebow traded because he “wasn’t getting no balls.”
We’ll see if Manning can take care of that, too.