When President Obama praised Peyton Manning for the way he “conducted himself on and off the field,” he might have accidentally endorsed the next Republican senator from Indiana. With the first pick in the 1998 draft, the Indianapolis Colts selected Manning for quarterback. And with their ballots in the coming 2018 midterm, the Indiana electorate might choose him for Senate.
Looking to beat vulnerable Democrat Senator Joe Donnelly, Republicans could do a lot worse than adding a Super Bowl champion to their roster. The GOP front office would have to move quickly, though. A lifelong Republican, Manning spoke at the party’s annual retreat last week in Philadelphia. And if there’s one man who can convince Manning to take a shot at the Senate it’s Vice President Mike Pence. Governor for much of the quarterback’s career, Pence knows Manning, and he could make the pitch.
If successful, it’d be the greatest free agency pick-up since 1962 when Republicans cast a B-list Hollywood actor as a legitimate candidate for California Governor. Eighteen years later, Ronald Reagan became the 40th president of the United States. And if Republicans brush off that playbook again, they might enjoy similar success in Indiana.
Though he’d be a rookie candidate, Manning wouldn’t need much conditioning. His scouting report is solid. Off the field, he’s a devoted dad, a savvy businessman, and an emerging media personality. And of course, his professional record is second to none.
With his brain and arm, Manning revolutionized the game while reintroducing little Indianapolis to all of America. And he did it all without a hint of suspicion and with fully inflated balls.
Though he eventually left Indianapolis for Denver, everyone remembers the stadium downtown as “the House that Peyton built.” Twenty minutes north, the Hoosier state enjoys one of the premier children’s hospitals in the world thanks to Manning. For his 14 years in Indianapolis, Indiana will always love him. And it’s why they should send him to the Senate.
Some might scoff and will say America doesn’t need another celebrity experiment in Democracy. They shouldn’t. Unlike vacuous celebrity, athletics breeds leadership. If Minnesota gets away with sending a washed-up comedian to Washington, there’s no reason Indiana shouldn’t send Manning.
Already, plenty of athletes have turned pro in politics. Before entering the upper chamber, Kentucky Sen. Jim Bunning threw a perfect game for the Philadelphia Phillies. And before he made supply-side economics mainstream, New York Rep. Jack Kemp quarterbacked consecutive championships for the Buffalo Bills.
Perhaps it’s time for the 6’5″, 230-pound quarterback with a laser-rocket arm to turn his hand toward politics.
About the Author
Philip Wegmann is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.