Greetings from the Lucas Oil Stadium club level. This is home to the media center for the NFL Scouting Combine for the next four days. The procession of NFL coaches and executives to the podium began at 10 a.m., and draft prospects will begin trickling in later Thursday. Offensive linemen and tight ends will be the first position groups through. Quarterbacks are scheduled for Friday.
Speaking of quarterbacks, I hope you had a chance this morning to read my story about Peyton Manning’s relationship with Indianapolis. As the Redskins’ search for a franchise quarterback continues, I wanted to explore what such a player could mean to a city.
As I reported on Manning’s impact on Indy, the uniqueness of the situation became clear. Theirs truly is a special, symbiotic relationship – hence the drama leading up to March 8. But there are some elements that would not apply to a franchise quarterback in Washington D.C.
Most notably, Manning arrived in Indianapolis just as the city began to make a major push to brand itself as a destination for conventions. He helped by garnering media exposure and in other ways, including recording 10 promotional spots for the Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association web site. I haven’t been in many convention centers, but I can see why Indianapolis has succeeded in its push. The Indiana Convention Center is quite impressive.
D.C., on the other hand, already has an established identity as the capital of the free world. They don’t need a star football player for branding purposes. If the White House and Capitol might be relocated because of D.C.’s lousy sports teams, their foundations would have been dug up years ago.
Those I spoke to for the story also touted how Manning’s character/image fits with Indy’s Midwestern values.
“People gravitate to that because he’ll say some stuff and he can be funny and have some timely humor but have a serious side, and people connect with that around here,” said John Michael Vincent, host on ESPN1070 The Fan radio. “I don’t know if people would have connected with that in, let’s say, New York or a larger market, but around here it was just perfect.”
A franchise quarterback would most significantly impact the D.C. area by galvanizing the fan base, which we know is rabid and dying for a turnaround. From a business, development and tourism standpoint, D.C. stands on its own. It already has the exposure Indianapolis coveted.
So perhaps Indy resident Ed Vance, 63, summed it up best Wednesday when he said of Peyton: “You always like to see a winner.”