The following is based off true events, with extra adjectives added for dramatic purposes.
It was a dark and stormy night. Dark because the sun had set and stormy because a hailstorm had just thundered through the Rocky Mountains and cascaded over the Front Range.
A crisp bite was in the air and a light wind whispered through the open bedroom window. T’was ideal spring sleeping conditions. I lay my head down on my fantastically fluffy pillow and let my mind wander. I grappled with the notion of floating off to sleep, and then eventually was transported into the mysterious land of dreams.
As my eyes shut and my brain relaxed, the portal into dreamland opened, and I found myself standing on the sidelines at the Denver Broncos OTAs.
I didn’t know spectators were allowed. How could I be so lucky? Like most dreams that you don’t realize is a dream, I didn’t ask questions. I was just happy to be watching Peyton Manning throw out routes to Wes Welker.
The precision of his passes was magnificent. The way he commanded the practice was inspiring. I was yards away from him, as he methodically barked out orders to his comrades. Dream or not, I was in heaven.
Then it happened.
During a passing drill, a gigantic lineman pressured Peyton. He fell to the ground and the behemoth of a person rolled right over the Broncos star quarterback. Manning screamed in pain. Everyone at the practice stopped cold in their tracks.
What just happened? Quarterbacks aren’t supposed to be touched during practice? Definitely not at OTAs! But I can still hear the screams.
Peyton’s shoulder was pulverized. I asked if he was okay. The answer was no. Would he be available for the season opener? Out for the season I was told.
Then I woke up. Cold sweats dripped off my body. My heart was racing. Legit sadness and fear gripped my body. What a nightmare!
I know. I know. Pretty pathetic. Most nightmares consist of demon warlocks. Mine consisted of a serious injury to one of my favorite professional athletes.
But when you think about it, if Peyton Manning were to sustain a serious injury, it wouldn’t just be me losing sleep at night. Millions of Broncos fans would be tossing and turning, wondering how the Broncos could do without their leader.
They wouldn’t be Super Bowl contenders I’ll tell you that much. The loss of a starting quarterback to any team is a huge setback. But I would argue the prospective loss of Mr. Manning is on another level, entirely. If he goes down, they go down.
He is the heartbeat of the team. Without Manning, there is no pulse.
One could argue the Broncos didn’t have their second and third best players on the field for much of the season last year. Ryan Clady went down with a foot injury in week two. Von Miller was suspended for the first six games, and tore in his ACL later in the campaign.
Even with those gaps in the lineup, the Broncos still went 13-3 and advanced all the way to the Super Bowl. And that’s mostly because of Peyton Manning. He is really good.
The best part of having a nightmare is the recognition that it isn’t real. When I woke up, and realized that Manning was okay, my sadness and fear transitioned into joy and hope.
Sometimes I still pinch myself over the fact that John Elway was able to lure the biggest free agent fish of all time, thus re-writing the history books of the Denver Broncos. That, right there, is a dream come true for all Broncos fans.
And now, on the cusp of his third season in Denver, the prospect of Manning getting injured gives me nightmares.
Because if the Broncos want their dreams to come true, they will need Peyton Manning on the field.
Like this? Click here Emmanuel Sanders’ tweet showing he’s ready for OTAs.