“God bless all of you and God bless football.” With those simple yet unforgetable words, Peyton Manning said goodbye to the game he loved. As I watched his press conference, I was as impressed by him in that moment as I was watching him play for the last 20 years.
I’ve never been a fan of any team that Peyton Manning was playing for, but I’ve always been a fan of his – primarily because he has always seemed like such a good guy. He seemed to possess a rare ability to be both a celebrity and a humble, regular guy at the same time and that is exactly how he came across as he addressed his fans and the media on Monday. He was humble, kind, gracious and self-deprecating. In a moment that was all about him, he still took opportunity to praise others and share the credit. He even offered appreciation for some of his harshest critics and opponents.
As he finished speaking and I returned to the regular events of my day, a thought hit me out of the blue. “I wish he was running for president.” I know nothing of his political views and I certainly don’t think that being a star athlete makes you the right person to lead our nation. I don’t even actually wish he was the president. I just wish that politicians conducted themselves a little more like him and it leaves me terribly disappointed in the candidates we currently have running from both sides of the political aisle.
Again, I know nothing of them as people and I’m not even talking about the political and social views they claim to represent. I’m just talking about the public persona that they have each chosen to put out there for us to see. Though some are better than others, this crop of political hopefuls all fail the “nice guy” test. With each debate and rally we are subjected to lies, slander, arrogance, hate and bullying.
Though there are certain positions I support, there are no individuals running with the class and decency that I see in the public persona of someone like Peyton Manning. It is sad that among the individuals running for the highest office in our land and the most powerful position in the world we cannot find grace, humility and kindness.
When it comes to politics, I’m not all that involved and there is no particular candidate that I support or endorse. However, generally speaking, I’d love it if the next president could be a lot less politician and a little more Peyton Manning.
As there is nothing I can do about the individual character of these particular men and women, I settle for urging all who will listen to value these virtues once again. In your own interactions with others be sure to practice kindness and humility. Be a gracious and pleasant person. In the public arena, honor and reward those individuals who are kind, gracious, and humble.
I know that the world we live in currently seems to reward the bully and that nice guys finish last, but I for one am convinced that the right moral, social and political views will not be enough to turn our country around without a return to civility and class. As a follower of Jesus, I will even say that the right religious views will fail to make a difference if we do not pair those views with a practical love that manifests itself in kindness, humility and common courtesy. Let’s all take a page from Peyton Manning’s playbook and do our part to class up America’s public image a little bit.
Photo by Jeffrey Beall – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20546207