Sincerely, Peyton

If you regularly read our emails or blog posts (first, thank you!), you know that we tend to look at the world in some unconventional ways. A slight tilt to the head, like a dog puzzling over whether or not it’s worth the risk to grab that filet off the counter.

Much like the dog, we puzzle, and then we generally go for it.

But when this came across our radar screen a few days ago, we really didn’t even puzzle. We just knew we had to go for it.

Gatorade has come up with one of the most meaningful campaigns we’ve ever seen. It has absolutely nothing to do with Gatorade, except that their logo is at the end. On its face, it’s a well-deserved salute to Peyton Manning, and we sure don’t have any problem with that. We’re big fans of #18 around here.

What it’s really about is communicating in ways that are truly meaningful. We all think we communicate all the time — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat. But that’s a stream of thought, and none of it is really meant just for you. It’s for a global audience. That’s the point of social media, and it works pretty well. But much like that juicy filet, it comes into your life for a few moments, and then it’s pretty much gone.

But a handwritten letter — when was the last time you received one of those? You know, on actual paper, coming through the mail. Written just for you. The first best part of that is when you’re sorting through the mail. Bills, circulars, sales pitches . . . and then you see a letter, with a return address you recognize. And you smile.

Peyton Manning believes in the art of letter writing. He’s been writing them for years. He writes them to coaches, teammates, family and friends. He writes them to people like Brandon Washington, the first recipient of the Peyback Foundation Scholarship founded by Peyton. “It was truly amazing and thrilling to know I was on his mind at the time” Washington said when he received his letter in the midst of the NFL season.

Tyler Frenzel was a young cancer patient Peyton met at the Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital. When Peyton learned of Tyler’s death, he wrote a letter to his parents. “They were just buddies, and that was what Tyler loved about him” his mom said as she clutched the note that she saved and obviously cherishes.

Tony Dungy, who coached Peyton for seven years in Indianapolis, said “You can ask the equipment men, I guarantee you they’ve gotten letters from Peyton Manning. . .  In my 31 years in the National Football League, I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone as thoughtful.”

Social media just doesn’t do it for Peyton. “Peyton’s more of a pen and paper kind of guy — he tends to express himself in letters,” says his brother Eli. “There are a lot of people writing him thank you on social media, but he won’t see any of those, because he’s not on social media.” So Gatorade decided to create the #dearpeytonmural where those posts were painted on a mural. It was available for fans to add their own thoughts at the 2016 NFL draft and will be sent to Manning and donated to his foundation.

There’s something about letters. You tend to keep them, take them out from time to time and reread them. Maybe frame them. I doubt anyone’s ever framed a “Happy Birthday to my BFF! You’re looking pretty good for an old lady, LOL!” post on Facebook.

So maybe the next time a birthday rolls around, send a real card in the mail. You never know when a handwritten thank-you card or ‘thinking of you’ note could make someone’s day. Just make sure it’s legible, because according to former teammate Brandon Stokley, “He could work on his handwriting, too, by the way.”

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