Irsay can you see? Peyton Place and the Colts.

I cheer for the Indianapolis Colts. My reason is simple, and I guess – overall – pretty foolish. I like Peyton Manning.

As a kid, our house was more American Bandstand than NFL grandstand. I’m not sure I remember ever seeing a professional football game while growing up. Baseball, sure. College football – you bet.

For whatever reason, the NFL never connected for me. Maybe it was because we had no local team. There was Kansas City (watched the Royals in MLB). There were the Cardinals in St. Louis (Oops. Baseball again). The Cowboys were south of the Red River in Dallas.

If I had to save my life by naming the conference that any National Football League team played in, I’d be dead as an out-of-bounds kickoff. The closest I got to watching a game on television was Brian’s Song, a sappy and sad movie based on the failing health and death of an NFL standout. It was probably the first – and maybe only – chickflick that was intended for an all-male audience.

I cheer for the Indianapolis Colts because of Peyton Manning, who has appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman enough times that I feel like he is extended family. He really seems like a nice guy. I liked his dad, Archie, who somehow made it into my circle of awareness when he quarterbacked the New Orleans Ain’ts. They probably came to my attention when fans wore brown bags over their heads to hide their identities. The gimmick became big enough that even grandmothers of that era knew who quarterbacked the Saints. Manning was good.

The rest of the team?

Well, it was so long ago that it was considered impolite, bordering on vulgar, to say ‘sucked.’ I heard my cousin Steve tell his brother Tim to “suck eggs” and I thought a lightning bolt would flash and send him straight on to hell. Steve might have said the New Orleans Saints sucked back then, and he would have been dead-on correct.

The Colts, as I understand it, were pretty much that way, too. They used to be the Baltimore Colts, but packed up in the dark of night one weekend and moved away. Peyton, with his arm and David Letterman, put them back on the map.

Now, the team’s owner wants to get rid of Peyton, who did not play in a single game last season, and the team almost went winless. The falloff from winners to losers was dramatic enough that even a non-NFL fan could see that Manning was a key component to the success of the organization. Oh, but not the ownership. Jim Irsay – the guy who signs the team checks – fired the general manager, the coach, and probably the waterboy. He wants to fire Peyton, too.

Mr. Manning, though, has a big contract, something probably related to his winning the Superbowl for fans of Indianapolis.

And also for the the owner, Big Jim.

I’ve cheered for the Vikings (OU’s Peterson). I looked up the Rams scores (Sam Bradford of the Sooners) until they disappeared into the cheap-seat toilets. When Barry Switzer coached the Dallas Cowboys, I clapped and stomped my feet with the best of them. (Tony Casillas of Tulsa was on the roster for a time, which merited some fan-support.) Now, I’m not sure who even coaches Jerry’s kids. I rooted for Houston when my daughter and her family lived there. Thankfully, they moved back to Tulsa. Houston’s loss. Our gain. Except we don’t have an NFL franchise.

When the Superbowl rolled around this year and it was down to the Giants and the Patriots, it might as well have been the Flyers and the Canucks. I care for hockey even less than New England and New York. But, ya gotta pick a team to cheer for, so – with a Manning under center, I got a win with Eli.

It’s bad when I pull for Kansas City just because Cousins Steve and Tim live in Missouri.

The Chiefs will be all I have left if Peyton hangs up his horseshoe helmet – unless we can convince the NFL to add OU as an expansion team.

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