(above : the anti-Dwight Howard)
When watching Peyton Manning’s tearful farewell press conference earlier this week, who amongst us didn’t say to ourselves, “wow, I wonder you could use this event to fuck with Dwight Howard’s psyche?” Well, the Orlando Sentinel’s Mike Bianchi did more than just drunkenly mumble to himself, he actually did the goddamn deed in Friday’s paper, adding, “Indy cries because Peyton wanted to stay. Orlando cries because Dwight has said he wants to leave.”
You see, Peyton didn’t want to leave; he was forced to leave. Four neck surgeries, 14 years of NFL wear and tear and an uncertain future caused the Colts to make a cold but understandable business decision. They saved $28 million and chose soon-to-be-drafted No. 1 pick Andrew Luck over Manning — arguably the greatest passer the NFL has ever known.
Manning, as you would expect, took the high road. He didn’t rip the organization, team management or the media. In fact, he thanked all of the above and said he understood why the Colts had to do what they did.
And then he cried.
“As I go,” he said, his voice breaking up, “I go with just a few words left to say — a few words I want to address to Colts fans everywhere: ‘Thank you very much from the bottom of my heart. I truly have enjoyed being your quarterback.’ “
That, LeBron, is how you say goodbye to a city.
And that, Dwight, is why you should never say goodbye to Orlando.
“If Dwight leaves Orlando now,” Bianchi warns, “he will get none of that. No statue. No retired jersey. No lifelong adoration and respect.” He might, however have a chance to win a title elsewhere. And the rest of Bianchi’s analogy is deeply confusing. Despite all he’s done for the Colts, Peyton Manning was ultimately deemed expendable. Earlier in his career, however, he did everything in his power to maximize his earnings. Were Manning, a) 26 years old, b) healthy, c) at the end of his contract, and d) toiling for a coach and GM he was thoroughly sick of, does Bianchi seriously believe Eli’s older brother would stick around out of loyalty? And if the Orlando scribe really wants Howard to thoroughly follow in Peyton’s footsteps, exactly whose face does Bianchi want Howard to sit on?