News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Opinion Columns

February 1, 2014

MARK BENNETT: Remembering the less glitzy days on Manning’s road to the Super Bowl

TERRE HAUTE — A blur of memories.

They’ll flicker fast and furious tonight, like a spinning Rolodex, when Peyton Manning runs onto the MetLife Stadium turf in Jersey City, as a Denver Bronco, playing for a Super Bowl ring against the Seattle Seahawks. Most Hauteans will experience flashbacks, too. That’s understandable. We watched Manning as an Indianapolis Colt during the team’s summer training camps at Rose-Hulman.

Those morning and afternoon practices in July and August amounted to the NFL Unplugged.

No dazzling graphics on a TV screen. No JB, Shannon, Dan, Boomer and Coach Cowher back in the studio. No melodramatic pregame interviews, cheerleaders or sideline reporters. No instant replays. No challenge flags. Just lots of repetition. Manning throwing the same 12-yard pass again and again to Marvin Harrison or Reggie Wayne, Marcus Pollard, Ken Dilger or Dallas Clark.

Edgerrin James (assuming he’d reported to camp already) juking through his blockers. Mike Vanderjagt flipping passes to Hunter Smith between kicks. Nervous rookies and free agents hustling through drills, hoping coaches notice.

Tony Dungy, chin in hand, studying the movements, talking in a classroom voice. Before that, Jim Mora looming behind the huddles, sedately, unless a foolish wide receiver made the mistake of sitting on his helmet during a less-than-stellar practice. (Trust me, the screeching words wideout Jerome Pathon heard from Coach Mora that day were not, “Playoffs? Playoffs?”)

Yes, those July and August days were as tedious as they were interesting. The heat felt as if the surface of the sun was near Seelyville. The humidity? Some people pay big bucks to sweat that much without moving.

And once or twice each summer, the gracious hosts at Rose would crank up the Cook Stadium lights, allowing the Colts to practice at night and thousands of eager fans to ring the field on the quiet, wooded campus. It was then, for a few brief moments, everyone in this secluded crowd — those of us who endured all the daily repetitions, and those for whom the evening workouts were a special treat — witnessed glimpses of the season ahead. Harrison would glide deep downfield, glance over his shoulder, reach up and clutch a line-drive spiral from Manning.

The quarterback, stern-faced one second and smiling the next, was the common denominator through those years when Terre Haute was the Colts’ summer home from 1999 to 2009 and the team won one Super Bowl and lost another. Coaches, running backs, receivers, linemen and defenders came and went. They’re all part of that scrambled-eggs pool of memories. For me, at least.

In that setting, with all due respect to Manning’s remarkable playing legacy, he never seemed like the super-human being depicted on the CBS highlight clips and advertisements. The mind-boggling compensation he earned, at times, manifested itself in surreal ways. One afternoon in 2004, as I spoke with Manning in a somewhat rare one-on-one, post-practice interview on the Cook Stadium track, nearby an ESPN crew assembled a portable set on the field so Mike Ditka — Da Coach — could have an on-camera chat with Peyton. As we talked, Manning admitted his teammates ribbed him about his new $98-million contract.

“Everybody gives me a hard time about that,” he said, grinning. “If you get cold showers in the lockerroom, they say it’s my fault.”

Aside from those quirky instances, he just seemed like a gifted, hard-working football player preparing alongside lots of talented teammates.

In 92-degree temperatures, everybody gets gassed — Peyton, Marvin, the Colts PR staffers, the Rose groundskeeper, the sportswriters on the sidelines, and the guy with his grandkids in the bleachers. (The players more so than the rest of us, of course.) The only difference is, when practice ended, 350 men, women and children were standing in line, anxiously awaiting Manning’s autograph. He invariably obliged.

Through it all, Manning kept an incredible Ernie Banks “let’s-play-two” attitude about the rather mundane workouts in that outdoor sauna. The Colts needed those two-a-days, and so did he, Manning would say. They all perspired massively, but none more so than Manning.

Dungy once said of his quarterback with a Namath-caliber throwing arm and a Rose-Hulman-caliber IQ, “Peyton Manning has rare talent, but he chooses to push himself like he doesn’t.”

Any of us who watched all those 7-on-7 drills and pass-route repetitions summer after summer can’t be surprised that he’s recovered from four neck surgeries, turned a decent NFL team into a juggernaut and reached the Super Bowl for a third time. Along with his abilities, Manning simply kept showing up for work. Remember that tonight, Colts fans.

Mark Bennett can be reached at 812-231-4377 or

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Opinion Columns
  • Ronn Mott.jpg RONN MOTT: They didn’t make it!

    The “One and Dones” done went and didn’t! (I know this is grammatically incorrect, but I want those folks down in Kentucky to read it.)

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ronn Mott.jpg RONN MOTT: Royce Waltman

    In recent days the papers have been full of good things about Royce Waltman. Not a lot of puffery, but more like Royce himself… straight, true and right at you.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • LIZ CIANCONE: Not much peace since war to end all wars

    My jaw dropped the other day when I read that this year, 2014, marks 100 years since the start of World War I. No, you wise guys, I wasn’t there personally.

    April 14, 2014

  • MARK BENNETT: It’s (Not) So Easy

    Arctic air bled into the Wabash Avenue post-hippie-era diner-pub every time the wooden door swung open.

    April 12, 2014

  • ERIC SCHANSBERG: The 1040 tax form turns 100

    The 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution brought us the federal income tax in 1913. A year later, the 1040 tax form was born.

    April 12, 2014

  • RONN MOTT: Pondering our planet’s future

    I watched a TV show recently and the subject was global warming.

    April 11, 2014

  • RONN MOTT: Bits & Pieces

    I don’t know about you, but I get a total sense of helplessness when I realize 239 people died in one airplane crash. And to make it worse, if that is possible, the loved ones left behind can’t close. Maybe this week.

    April 10, 2014

  • Ronn Mott.jpg RONN MOTT: Basketball and Done

    I guess I’m going to have to change my mind about the “One and Done” rule. It would seem the future professionals wearing university uniforms — national runner-up Kentucky is an example — has proven me a fool. Why should I care about the education they are getting, or not getting?

    April 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • LIZ CIANCONE: Angling for a mate not fond of fishing

    While many little girls daydream about the dream man they hope to find, it seems to me that they concentrate on all the wrong things. I can’t discount the appeal of beauty, brains and virtue, but my dream man was one who was not dedicated to fishing.

    April 7, 2014

  • RONN MOTT: A fine mess for collegiate sports

    Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy were a comedic team in the late 1920s, 1930s and 1940s.

    April 4, 2014

  • RONN MOTT: The Angry Planet

    It is better to imagine an ocean as peaceful and calm.  The problem is, an ocean is very rarely, ever that way. I remember when a writer took his wife and family from New York to England in his sailboat. And later, his wife commented there was never a time she could have something cooking on the stove without the food spilling out.

    April 3, 2014

  • RONN MOTT: Learning as you go

    I have always been a person who respects education. Education doesn’t always come to you in the orderly process of school and classroom. Sometimes, it finds you in work-a-day situations.

    April 1, 2014

  • LIZ CIANCONE: Words can take us on memorable excursions

    When The Tribune-Star recently asked the reading public to name “the best” in dozens of categories, I didn’t hesitate in naming Mike Lunsford as my favorite columnist.

    March 31, 2014

  • MARK BENNETT: Volunteers’ cleanup efforts key to river’s future role in community

    People throw all kinds of garbage into and along the Wabash River, aiming to make their used-up stuff disappear from their lives.

    March 29, 2014

  • RONN MOTT: Even NCAA floors pure Americana

    I noticed during the NCAA Tournament games I have been watching that all of them have identical basketball floors, regardless of where the game was played.

    March 28, 2014

  • Ronn Mott.jpg RONN MOTT: Guns and Schools

    I guess I just don’t get it. Perhaps I’m not smart enough. Those who don’t agree with me very often probably think that is the problem — me not being smart.
    The idea that children will be safer if you have a gun in your car in the school parking lot, or somewhere on school grounds, leaves me with the traditional “Duh!” I don’t wish to poke fun at those honest citizens who “pack” and hope they will be able to do something good in the way of helping family or neighbors in the event of a crisis, but often in those situations innocent people get shot.

    March 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • RONN MOTT: Flight 370

    Not too many days ago, I heard a reporter refer to Flight 370 as an accident. It wasn’t an accident … it was, most likely, murder. If this aircraft went down in the Indian Ocean, we will be extremely fortunate to find the remains of the plane and any of the people on it.

    March 25, 2014

  • LIZ CIANCONE: Memories stir desire to collect new ones

    I was talking with a friend the other day, a much younger friend. Somehow the conversation turned to early memories. One of her earliest memories had to do with 9/11 and the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center towers.

    March 24, 2014

  • MARK BENNETT: Dues Paid, change under way

    In the 1940s, Dorothy Jerse sat in a University of Illinois accounting class, listening to a guest speaker.

    March 22, 2014 1 Story 1 Video

  • RONN MOTT: Catching up on the here and now

    Oh my, write down the date, underline it, and say, “The guesswork in Ronn’s column the other day was wrong!”

    March 21, 2014

  • RONN MOTT: The Russian Bear

    As I’m writing this, the official word from the Crimean election is not yet in. It doesn’t have to be … Putin would not have an election for the Crimea to ask itself out of the Ukraine back into Russia because he does not want to be embarrassed. 

    March 20, 2014

  • Ronn Mott.jpg RONN MOTT: Thank you, NCAA

    The MEAC, the MAAC and the MAC. Do you know? And how much do you know mixed with how much do you care? Now we know the MAC, they’re practically home boys. That’s Northern Illinois, Ball State and a handful of teams in Ohio. But you get reacquainted with some of these schools because of the NCAA Tournament.

    March 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • LIZ CIANCONE: Spreading news from one ‘Liz’ to another

    I received a letter the other day from a Yorkville High School classmate. It wasn’t snail mail, it was written in cursive writing and although it required more than the 3-cent stamp of my youth, it found our mailbox within a couple of days of posting.

    March 17, 2014

  • KIEL MAJEWSKI: Sexual violence demands the world’s action

    I have a lot to learn in life, but I am convinced of this: The day men share power equally with women is the day we will see true peace in this world. The day women and girls are valued as much as men and boys, and are treated with the same respect as their male counterparts, is the day we will finally see healthy societies.

    March 15, 2014

  • MARK BENNETT: All aboard!

    Find me a George Mason University basketball T-shirt in Indiana.

    March 15, 2014

  • RONN MOTT: One and done, 2014 style

    Hoosiers, this time of the year, turn their minds and emotions to the grand old game of “hoops.”


    March 14, 2014

  • RONN MOTT: Ukraine 2

    The situation in the Ukraine should let us know plainly, and openly, the old saying about a leopard never changing its spots is true. Vladimir Putin is a KGB officer, grew up a communist and, from all appearances, still believes like a communist.

    March 13, 2014

  • MET 031214 BACON MAYO.jpg MARK BENNETT: First BaconFest sure to cure your salty fried meat cravings

    Bacon taught me a life lesson.
    I wrapped strips of it around chicken livers and secured the cold, gooey bundles with toothpicks to earn money.

    March 12, 2014 3 Photos


    A few days ago we talked to John Anderson of the Greencastle Presbyterian Church. He’s the coordinator for a mission of the church that builds ramps and stairs for those who are physically handicapped in Putnam County.

    March 11, 2014

  • LIZ CIANCONE: We’re not only ones ready for springtime

    During the most recent of our numerous descents into polar temperatures, I was astounded to see a dozen or more robins up to their ankles in snow. They were fluffed out to about twice their normal size. I suppose that was an effort to provide a bit of feathered insulation against the cold.

    March 10, 2014

Latest News Poll
AP Video
Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Mayor Rob Ford Launches Re-election Campaign Malaysia Plane: Ocean Floor Images 'Very Clear' Crew Criticized Over Handling of Ferry Disaster Today in History for April 18th Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction Chelsea Clinton Is Pregnant Raw: Two Lucky Kids Get Ride in Popemobile Calif. Investigators Re-construct Fatal Bus Cras Agreement Reached to Calm Ukraine Tensions Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Bulgarian Monastery Dyes 5000 Easter Eggs Author Gabriel Garcia Marquez Dead at 87 Raw: Pope Francis Performs Pre-easter Ritual
NDN Video

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -


    March 12, 2010