A lot of young quarterbacks want to be like Peyton Manning. While not all of them (or really more than one or two of them) are likely to throw 500+ touchdowns in the NFL, hopefully many more of them will treat their fans as well as Manning treats his fans.
Purpose 2 Play and Denver 9 news reported a story recently about the great effort the Denver Broncos Public Relations Department undertook to find a fan that reached out to Manning (at Manning's request.)
In late September Kristen Patterson sent Manning a letter requesting a meeting during the Broncos/Bengals game on December 22nd. Patterson's husband, Army Sgt. Ryan Patterson of the 1/25 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, had been a fan of Manning when he was an Indianapolis Colt and remained a Manning fan after he joined the Denver Broncos.
According to Patterson's letter her husband would set his alarm clock at odd hours of the night when he was stationed in Afghanistan to catch Colts games and had even requested to be stationed in Colorado to ensure he could watch Manning as a Bronco.
Manning was obviously moved by the letter and wanted to arrange a meeting with the fans at the Bengals game. The problem? Kristen Patterson failed to leave her contact info in the letter, and the family had recently moved from Kentucky to Alaska. North Pole, Alaska to be specific.
Here's my favorite part of the story: Manning asked the Broncos PR team to find the Pattersons. And they did after a three-month search that involved utility companies and a call from the Alaska State Troopers.
Patterson desribes the phone call from the Alaska State Troopers that led to a meeting with Manning: "When I got a call from (an Alaska) State Trooper they asked if I wrote a letter to Peyton Manning. They said the Denver Broncos were trying to get a hold of me. When I sent it, you never know if someone is going to read it or if it is going to be tossed in a pile. So I thought they never read it, no big deal."
But any Peyton Manning fan knows that Manning not only reads his mail, he responds to it.
Of course you can probably already guess how this story ends. The Pattersons did in fact meet Peyton Manning at the team's hotel before the Bengals/Broncos game. Ryan Patterson and his family took photos with Manning, received an autographed football, and enjoyed some small talk with their favorite quarterback.
"He seemed genuinely tickled that we lived in North Pole, Alaska. He said, 'You guys are really hard to find,'" Patterson said. "Before he left he shook my hand and thanked me for my service one more time and I thanked him for being my quarterback."
Patterson also noted that his wife was now the "greatest wife ever and there was nothing I could ever do to top this." Yep, that sounds about right. Good job Kristen Patterson!
It only seems fitting that Manning and the Broncos gave an early Christmas present to some of the residents of (the) North Pole, doesn't it?
You can read all of Kristen Patterson's letter to Manning in the Denver 9 News story. And if you write to Manning (or any Broncos player) remember one thing - include your phone number! You never know what might happen.