Peyton M honors Johnny U.
Peyton Manning started out his retirement press conference by paying tribute to another legendary quarterback, his hero, Johnny Unitas. It’s hard to remember, but Peyton struggled in his first season as a (ugh…Indianapolis) Colt, and he told a story about how after a loss in Baltimore, Unitas took him aside, shook his hand, and told him he was rooting for him. “… I hope that old No. 19 is up there with his flat top and maybe his black high tops on,” Peyton said, holding back tears. “I hope he knows that I have stayed at it [for 18 years] and maybe he’s even a little proud of me.” On Tuesday, Johnny’s widow, Sandra, released the following statement to thank Peyton for his remarks and recall another time the future Hall-of-Famer paid tribute to the Golden Arm:
“In the days following my husband’s death in 2002, Peyton Manning sought permission from the NFL to wear high top shoes in the Indianapolis Colts’ next game, in honor of John Unitas. Though facing the possibility of a hefty fine, Manning opted to honor his predecessor.
At one of the darkest moments in my life—and at a time when the sacrifices and successes of NFL pioneers often went unacknowledged—Peyton’s kind gesture, his thoughtful tribute, touched my heart.
As I watched his retirement speech yesterday, I was again struck with emotion as Peyton related John’s encouraging words following a Colts’ game against the Ravens in Baltimore. Knowing my husband as I did for more than 32 years, I can assure Peyton that old No. 19 is indeed “up there with his flat top and…his black high tops on” and that he is very proud of No. 18.
In Manning, John recognized a man of similar character, someone who shared the same love for the game. Though generations apart as Colts’ quarterbacks, John Unitas was very proud that a young man like Peyton Manning followed in his footsteps.
As Peyton’s NFL playing career comes to a close, I want to thank him for the respect he has for my husband and for the kindness he has shown to me and my family. I wish him all the best.”
Orioles acquire another big bat.
In a move nobody saw coming, the Orioles signed power-hitting free agent first baseman Pedro Alvarez to a one-year, 5.75 million deal. Like the long ball? You’re going to love the Orioles this season. As USA Today points out, with Chris Davis, Adam Jones, Manny Machado, and newly acquired right fielder Mark Trumbo, the Orioles now have five everyday players who have hit at least 33 home runs in a season. Yowsa! Alvarez’s acquisition does raise the question: Who’s going to play first base? We’ve already established that Davis can play almost all positions (who could forget this shining moment?), but he is suited at first, especially if the team wants him to stay healthy. (Right field, for example, would put more wear and tear on his body.) Still, there are worse problems to have. In more worrisome news, the Orioles remain winless in Spring Training. There’s no need to panic yet, is there? IS THERE?
Ravens sign veteran tight end Benjamin Watson to two-year deal.
He’s 35 years old, but still has a lot of game left in him as evidenced by last year’s career reviving season with the New Orleans Saints (he ended the season with six TDs and 825 yards receiving). Also, he’s written a book on religion and race relations called Under Our Skin: Getting Real About Race—And Getting Free From the Fears and Frustrations that Divide Us. So something tell us he’s going to give good locker room soundbite, too.
O’s groundskeeper honored.
Orioles Head Groundskeeper Nicole McFadyen was named this year’s recipient of the Mary Pickersgill Award for Women’s Leadership in Business. Established in 2012 by the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House, the award honors a woman who “demonstrates leadership in her community, exemplifies innovation in her chosen field, and has the power to inspire others.” Last year’s winner was none other than Enoch Pratt Chief (and President Obama’s Librarian of Congress nominee) Carla Hayden. McFadyen is only one of two female head groundskeepers in all of Major League Baseball. Congrats, Nicole!