Back in the mid 1990’s, I was watching a lot of college football. NFL football was in transition, at least for me. I had grown up a Cowboys fan, with no team in Arizona and Danny White, an ASU stand out at quarterback it was a given. When Tom Landry was fired and Danny White released my loyalty to them faded quickly. The Cardinals had moved from St. Louis to Arizona in 1988 and were consistently horrible from the beginning. I remember when talk first started to circle that Phoenix might get a team. I talked to anyone and everyone about it. I wanted one of the expansion teams to come here, I thought we needed something new and fresh, not some team that another town didn’t want. I was about fifteen at the time and although most people agreed with me apparently the NFL thought otherwise. So, Cardinals left St. Louis and we got the Bidwells, seriously not the best deal.
I wasn’t their biggest fan but I loved football and tried to give them the benefit of the doubt. The Cardinals had a 7 – 9 record the first year, followed by several years of 4 – 12 and 5 – 11 records and didn’t do better than the 7 – 9 until 1998. They had front office issues, coach issues and weren’t exactly community friendly. Instead of just picking whatever NFL team was winning at the time I started watching more college football and let the business minded NFL go on without me. I am sure it was hard for them to do but they seemed to survive it.
Saturdays were great, NCAA football had games starting at 10:00am and all through the afternoon and evening. I was back in college at the time and did a lot of my studying during those football games. The early games would be Big-10 and ACC, the SEC and marquee games midday, later games would feature PAC-10 and WAC or the occasional big match up at night.
It was during this time that I started watching a certain Tennessee quarterback named Peyton Manning. At first I was picking the Tennessee game just because everyone knew it would be a good game, no matter who they played. Then I was simply impressed by Peyton (and yes, I call him Peyton, I mean I’ve been watching him for over 15 years, right?). On the field, Peyton was confident and efficient and off of the field, in every sideline report he was nice, respectful and smart.
In a world where professional athletes acted like they owned the world it was refreshing to see him so well grounded.
So, that’s how it started, later this week I will talk more about where we are now.