Peyton Manning and Todd Helton. They’re two of the most well-respected players in their respective sports. They’re two of the most popular athletes in Colorado. It turns out the Broncos’ quarterback and the Colorado Rockies’ first baseman go back, way back almost 20 years, to Tennessee.
Helton will wrap up his 17-year MLB career at the end of the month, and Manning will be in attendance for Helton’s last home game against the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday. He wouldn’t miss it.
“It’s hard just to put into short words a career that long,” Manning said. “To do it for that long, like I said, I think sometimes when you just write, ‘17-year career,’ it doesn’t do it justice. You ought to put it in bold, caps and write it about 50 times just to realize how much work he put in.”
Manning went to the University of Tennessee a self-reported 18-year-old homesick kid. Helton was already a big star there, and helped welcome Manning to the university, to manhood.
It turns out that Helton threw down the proverbial welcome mat to Colorado as well years later.
“A couple years ago, during that lockout when I was in a strange injury situation, for him to get on the phone and call me and invite me out here to work out with the Rockies, in private, and use the Rockies trainers—I’ll always be indebted to him. I was in a kind of a weird place, an unknown. I had really nobody to turn to medically because of the lockout. What Todd did, that really kind of gave me some good direction. I’ll always be indebted to him for that.”
Can we credit Helton for helping to bring Manning to Colorado? Perhaps. Along with John Elway being in the front office, it certainly had to be one of the “pros” on his list. After all, everyone needs a grilling mate.
So as Manning eats his Cracker Jacks and sings Take Me Out to the Ballgame, he’ll be relishing in history at the same time. That’s a guarantee.
“There won’t be another like him here, I can promise you that,” Manning concluded.
Helton would probably say the same.