Sometimes, short moments in someone’s life can influence them forever.
It was my first Giants away game. It was a battle between the Giants and the Colts at Indianapolis: a sibling rivalry between Eli and Peyton Manning. I wished for Eli to win, not only because he was a Giant, but also because he is the younger of the two brothers, which I can relate to.
As we entered Lucas Oil stadium, my pure white Eli jersey (or “the wrong Manning” as so many in Indy called him) turned many heads. A quick scan of the sea of blue and white around me made it difficult to distinguish friend from foe. Mocking and jeering soon revealed who was who. There was the impartial Manning fan, who only came to see the brothers face off, then there was the moderate Colts fan who would still converse with the “enemy.” Finally, there were the hardcore fans, who would hurl insults as much as Peyton hurled the ball.
Peyton soon marched his team down to score an easy seven points. A deafening roar erupted all around us. I tried to keep my spirits up, but when Eli couldn’t score, my hopes sank. With every turnover came harsh jeering from a Colt fan. With every sack and interception came a joke about my Manning jersey.
At halftime with a score of 24 – 0, one of my cousins and his father left their seats for a while. We assumed that they were going to get snacks, but the truth was much worse. They returned with a bag from the Colts Fan Shop. My cousin retired his Giants jersey in favor of a Colts t-shirt: the sign of a traitor.
Colts fans started to cheer and celebrate their new conversion. The minority of us Giants fans groaned and complained. We now had one less member for our army, but I couldn’t really blame him. After all, a performance like this had me questioning my own loyalty.
Nearly everyone around us had been celebrating, but a voice from the row behind us seemed to triumph over the cheering.
“Hey Giant Fan. How can you live with yourself?”
We all turned to one of the few Giants fan that we could see.
“How can you like yourself?”
With every word, he grew angrier.
“Kid, life isn’t always going to be easy. You can’t expect that it will be. But when it does get hard, you can’t just give up. You have to take the good along with the bad.”
Every word he said motivated me.
“You have to pick one thing and stick to it A true man comes through when he is losing!”
His words latched onto my brain for the rest of the game. It’s easy enough to be proud of yourself when you’re on top: when everything seems hopeless is when you truly shine. You need to be willing to defend your choices in life, not just switch to the more convenient option.
The rest of the game was an absolute slaughter. Giants fans left with their heads hung low. As I walked out, my dad gave me some advice.
“There are going to be a lot of gloating Colts fans outside. I wouldn’t feel bad if you took your jersey off.”
I looked him directly in the eyes and responded.
Once I uttered those words, he gave me a smile, which I happily returned. As we left the stadium, I had my favorite Manning advertised on my back, the sound of external sneering and laughing drowned out by my internal pride
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