Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning had his midweek exchange with media today. The best part came in a heartfelt ode to retiring Rockies first baseman Todd Helton, his old friend from Knoxville.
It’s worth noting the last part, with Helton inviting Manning to Denver during the NFL lockout.
“I’ll be there next Wednesday to see his last game. It’s hard to put into short words a career of that long.
“Two things about Todd. From his career standpoint — and I’m not a baseball expert — but I do know in football, something that’s important, I think, is to earn the respect of your teammates and your coaches, but also your opponents. I know a lot of baseball guys, and I’ve been in a lot of baseball locker rooms, and I know that Todd Helton has the respect of all his opponents and peers. That’s a credit to him for how he’s played the game. He’s played hurt. He’s been a tough player, a consistent player.
“I think sometimes when you just write ’17-year career,’ it doesn’t do it in justice. You’ve got to put it in bold caps and write it about 50 times, just to realize how much work he put in.
“As a friend, he was nice to me as an 18-year-old freshman, a homesick freshman up there in Knoxville. Todd was a big star when I got there already. A Knoxville legend. He took time to be nice to me. I appreciated that. Then a good friend the entire time we’ve known each other, almost 20 years.
“Then 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 workout with the Rockies, in private, and use the Rockies trainers, I will always be indebted to him. Because I was in a weird place. I really had nobody to turn to, medically, because of the lockout. What Todd did, that really kind of gave me some new direction. I will always be indebted to him for that.”