It bothers me just a little that my sports heroes are now more than ten years younger than I am. For a long time, I was quite content to hitch my football wagon to a feller names John Elway. He was just a couple years older than I was, and as the golden boy of the Denver Broncos for sixteen years. John was the quarterback that had all kinds of great statistics and undeniable talent who could never quite win the big game. When he finally won a Super Bowl in 1997, I had a lump in my throat when Broncos' owner Pat Bowlen raised the Lombardi Trophy and announced, "This one's for John!" The next year came and he did it again, at age thirty-eight. He was also names Most Valuable Player. He was no fluke or one-hit wonder.
Then he retired. He went on to sell cars, own arena football teams, get divorced and marry a former Oakland Raiders cheerleader. I tried not to pay too much attention. Just like I tried not to pay attention to John's politics. There were plenty of people who supported Mitt Romney. I wouldn't have expected John Elway to be one of them. I was relieved when I could refocus my attention to the football portion of Mister Elway's life as he became executive vice president of football operations of his old team. It was easy for me to imagine him talking Peyton Manning into playing out his career at Mile High Stadium. If you're going to win a Super Bowl at thirty-eight, Denver's the place to do it.
This meant that I had to adjust my feelings toward Mister Manning, who I had always held in high regard for his abilities, but loathed for his ability to pick apart Bronco teams that didn't have a John Elway to run their offense. A pair of thirteen win seasons helped to seal the deal, and I felt comfortable assigning all my fan rays to the man they call "The Sheriff."
Now I await this next round of playoff games, with all those Super Bowl hopes attached to a new guy, one who is thirteen years my junior. I know the clock is ticking, and I try hard not to pay attention to Peyton's business dealings. I don't see red states or blue states. Just a whole lot of Orange.