I was born in 1986. Growing up in the 90s, Hoosiers had one sport on their minds. Reggie Miller was a god-send to the people of Indiana and the Pacers were perennial playoff contenders. They may have lost every year, but they were exciting to watch and they gave us hope of a championship banner coming to our state. Just down the road from my hometown was the campus of Indiana University and the home of the Hoosiers. Bobby Knight was a raging lunatic in the eyes of the media, but he won games and had IU in the NCAA tournament every year. The rivalry between IU and Purdue was something that every person in the state had an opinion on. The only football that a majority of people in Indiana really followed was Notre Dame and NCAA Football. The Fighting Irish have long been dormant and are not the perennial powerhouse that they once were, but the history and tradition of ND is something that many Hoosiers take pride in. Back in Indianapolis, there was another team that had come to us in the 80s and had lived in mediocrity at the RCA Dome. The Colts were losers with wasted talent and no real reason to even turn on the game on Sunday. Jim Harbaugh was a flash of brilliance that could be seen on ESPN the next day if he pulled off a miracle. Marshall Faulk was a monster on a horrible team that was never happier than when he left Indy. What changed? The Colts did not go draft a bunch of amazing talent and build a great team. In 1998, they drafted one guy that changed everything.
Peyton Manning took a team that most did not care about and turned them into the only thing that many care about. He achieved what no other person had been able to do and won a professional championship for Indiana. Reggie Miller will always be the first son of Indiana, but Peyton is definitely our favorite. I remember what it was like before Peyton and it is not a place that I want to return to. We are a state that is used to winning. And the only reason that we are the way we are is because of one man...Peyton Manning.