Does Peyton Manning's presence alter your thoughts about the Colts?
At the end of an interview I had earlier this week with Cal Ripken Jr., for a story that will appear on Sunday, I asked the Hall of Famer about his thoughts on the Super Bowl.
Ripken will be in attendance, and as a Baltimore-area native and young professional athlete when the Colts moved away in 1984, I wanted to know who he would be rooting for: After all, Peyton Manning is Ripken’s kind of athlete and he’s been to a Ripken charity event in the past.
But it is the Colts.
Ripken, in perfect Ripken form, laughed and dodged giving a straight answer. Mr. Aberdeen, Mr. Oriole is too smart to bite on that one.
He said he really isn’t sure what he’ll do. He said he had the same thought when he watched the New York Giants and the undefeated New England Patriots play a couple years ago. He was there and was asked all week which team he was rooting for. He said he didn’t know until the Giants got a first down in the fourth quarter and Ripken heard himself say, “Yeah.” That’s when he realized he was rooting for the Giants.
So he figures that moment of realization will come Sunday. Boy, is that guy good.
And I get his point. In a way.
I am a bit torn about Sunday. It’s impossible not to have respect for Peyton Manning; he really is among the best ever. And he’s so gracious when talking about Johnny Unitas, that even the bitterest Baltimore Colts fan has to begrudgingly like the guy. And he had absolutely nothing to do with the Mayflower vans – neither did any of his teammates.
That said, he’s a Colt and we all know that history and that ownership. I realize it has been 25-plus years, but it is tough to completely let go. Listen, I’m no longer 14, I don’t hate Indianapolis anymore. But hatred versus not wanting them to win another Super Bowl are separate things, right?
The good news for the Bitter Baltimorons is that the New Orleans Saints provide a worthy team to cheer for. They have never won it. And that city sure could use the positive vibes. So you can mask your hatred with a soft heart for the Saints.
Several Baltimore-native friends of mine this week have debated what to do on Sunday: Do you root against the best quarterback of a generation simply because of the uniform on his back?
My answer is probably. I can’t wait for yours.
Daily Think Special: Does Peyton Manning’s presence alter your feelings about the Colts?