Digging deep and finding silver

The regular football season is less than a week upon us, yet I find myself now wishing the lockout had maybe postponed the season a few weeks to give Peyton Manning more time to heal. Then again, the longer the lockout lasted, the longer Manning would be without his rehab team, so that wouldn't be good either.

I haven't been posting recently because I have been in denial. If I ignore it, it's not there right?

I want to wholeheartedly believe Dungy when he says that Manning will play "unless he's dead." I want to believe that Peyton's visibility (versus how he was guarded like Coca Cola's secret recipe in 2008), seemingly good mood in recent interviews, and activation off the PUP list are all positive signs that everything is going to be okay.

But seeing this picture of Manning's post neck surgery scar put things in perspective:

Peyton Manning's neck surgery scar. Indy Star.

That is no light surgical incision. And for all the haters out there, there is absolutely no doubt that #18 is tough. Tough as nails. Tough as my Grandmother's Thanksgiving turkey that nearly yanked out my molar. And that is certainly saying a lot in terms of toughness.
With such ominous clouds looming above, I can freak out and go through the five stages of grief like everyone seems to be doing at the moment. I can proclaim that 2012 is starting early in Indy. Hell, I can even crown the eternal "let's shoot ourselves in the boot" Texans (my home city, by the way - I love Houston!) as 2011 winners of the AFC South.

But, I can also choose to believe.

And believe I will.

I don't mean believe in the way where naive optimism overpowers reality. But believe in the way that Manning and the Colts are a talented bunch of guys who constantly and consistently dig deep. I'm not sure how successful the Colts will be this season if Manning misses any significant time, but I am sure our boys in blue will manage to grind out a few wins, even if it is Kerry Collins at the helm. The wins may not be pretty or plentiful, but the best battles usually aren't.

I'm a big believer that there is a silver lining for everything in life. Yea, Manning's slow recovery is devastating news to a rabid Colts' fan. The numbness he is feeling in his triceps nearly made me shit my pants. But, if you calm yourself and tweak your perspective, you will see opportunity where others confirm failure. Without Manning, here is the silver lining (assuming Manning is unable to play):

  • #18 gets a mental and physical break (you can't get better or continue to dominate without rest and renewal, right?)
  • Manning gets a new challenge that the competitor in him will be dying to overcome
  • Manning has never really taken a break before and the sideline view of the game will give him new perspective and inspiration
  • The o-line will get some time to gel without Manning there to suffer any slip ups
  • The defense will learn to step it up (no more bend or break please) and help carry the weight of the game
  • The offense will be more balanced (finally addressing the running game)
  • The coaches will no longer have a subconscious safety net that Manning unknowingly gives them (step it up Caldwell, Coyer, special-team-coach-whose-name-I-can't-be-bothered-to-look-up)
  • Manning will feel less pressure for being the one who has to win games for his team to win

Change can be good or bad. But change is certainly opportunity.

Like Manning said last year during his "three game slump," this is a test of faith and football adversity.

So let's have faith in Blue and be that 12th man!


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