Peyton, Tim and the rest of us

Denverites are football crazy. This is nothing new as Denver has always been a huge football town. However, all eyes this past week have been on the impending–and now complete–acquisition of Indianapolis Colts Quarterback Peyton Manning and the subsequent trade of Denver’s Quarterback Tim Tebow. So what does this have to do with spirituality?

During the trade talks, I sat back and watched social media and the thousands of posts written on the subject. If you’re not a football fan, you may not know the background of the two men involved. Peyton Manning is a veteran quarterback, having taken the Colts to a Super Bowl win in 2007. For the past year he has been on injured reserve and was let go by the Colts in early March. Tim Tebow, on the other hand, is a rookie back-up quarterback who got his big chance mid-season 2011 when he helped turn around the Broncos’ dismal season as the starting quarterback. Tebow is equally known for his religious views, openly displaying affection and admiration for God and the Christian faith. The short story: they’re both good men, on and off the field.

Fan reaction to the trade talks shouldn’t surprise me or anyone else. There’s a reason why both Peyton and Tim are admired. They’re great athletes and good guys—a rare combination in today’s professional sports world. Both players exhibit the desired qualities in sportsmanship: they’re humble, they give credit to the entire team, they take their jobs seriously and they approach each day with an enthusiasm that gets others around them fired up. Its no wonder people are impressed.

But what strikes me the most in watching fan reaction to the trade is the height of the pedestals fans have put both of these men on. There’s nothing wrong with that in and of itself—people do it all the time with athletes, actors and celebrities. Still, people’s reactions at times seem out of proportion to their own spiritual significance. When will people start to see their own magnificence and their own contribution to society as much as they do their heroes?

When we look to others for fulfillment, we diminish ourselves. The constant search for meaning in others’ careers and accomplishments is then no longer intrinsically good, it instead becomes an unattainable model for existence. It was easy to see this with the trade talks as people were more attuned to what was happening with the Broncos and the Jets than they were with their own lives.

Interestingly, it’s the very qualities of Peyton and Tim that people should emulate to help garner a more fulfilling existence. Both quarterbacks love what they do. They obviously enjoy playing football and being part of a team. They have clear ideas about how they want their careers to go; yet both have been malleable in allowing the universe to take them in new directions this past week. They have stayed away from negativity and openly praised each other for their individual contributions to the sport. They are both looking forward to the next chapter of their careers and not publically crying about loss. And at the end of the day, each are still playing football and being greatly compensated for it. That’s a pretty sweet deal.

Every single one of us on this planet has strengths and qualities that make us undeniably unique. Each of us, simply by being ourselves, affects the world in known and unknown ways. We are powerful forces that shape and better the world through our contributions. To put it another way, we are all a Peyton Manning or a Tim Tebow. It’s time we raise our individual pedestals up a notch and meet these men on equal footing.

When we take time to celebrate our selves, we actively promote a healthier climate and we grow our own fan base. As we begin to see our own heroic qualities, we automatically create space for other heroes to come into our lives and help complete our spiritual selves, rather than work against them. And as each of us begins to honor our own spirit, we return to the safety and beauty of All That Is. What team wouldn’t like that?

This isn’t mean to be an anti-sports rant. It’s about marveling in our own self-worth as much as the people we love to cheer. It’s about idolizing ourselves equally with our favorite athletes and realizing that the whole of the universe is enhanced when we appreciate each other for our own uniqueness. That’s a tall order but one which we can certainly start to fulfill.

Oh, yeah: go Broncos!