Peyton Manning is a hero to the state of Indiana. He almost singlehandedly changed Indiana from a basketball state to a football state. He might be the single biggest name in Indiana sports. Peyton is legend, and his impact on the Colts will never be forgotten until the sun explodes and all of humanity is consumed in fire. But until then, we can enjoy his legacy, and his legacy may be more impactful than you think.
ESPN did some research and found something hilarious: That dozens of Indiana parents have no concept of originality. There are 57 (fifty-seven!) players on high school football rosters right now named Peyton. If you were a college recruiter and you had to go to Indiana to recruit some players, you could wander onto the school and say “Peyton” and multiple people would turn their heads. That means at least 57 pairs of parents (possibly less, don’t want to discount single parents) were trying to figure out a name for their child, and all of them had the same idea: “Hey, that mega foreheaded Southern guy who made our football team relevant, let’s use his name.” Parents are the worst. But hey, at least Peyton is a reasonable name and these parents are choosing a real-life hero to the community and not a fantasy teenager with dragon babies who’s name actually isn’t even Khaleesi.
Of course, if 57 children seems low to you (after all, Indiana has 6.6 million people in it), keep in mind that these 57 kids are only players on high school rosters. This report doesn’t take into account any Peytons who have yet to reach high school, already passed high school, or moved away. It doesn’t count any Peytons from Colorado or Tennessee or even Louisiana, other places Peyton means something to. Especially Tennessee. You know college towns, they can reach even more absurd levels of hero worship (I wonder how many people from Happy Valley, Pennsylvania are named Joe or, god forbid, Jerry). Nor can this study account for Colts fans not from Indiana or in Indiana who named their kids Peyton. Lastly, this is entirely high school football Peytons, nothing is said about non-football Peytons. Did they check the student council on all these high schools? Maybe some of these Peytons decided on different paths through life and have no interest in football, which probably disappoints their fathers to no end. Some of these Peytons will be scientists, auto mechanics, criminals, and criminal defense attorneys. (I’d want a Peyton as my lawyer. I hear he’s got a great defense.)
Peyton is also a dual gender name. It means Regal. It makes you wonder how many young girls out there are named Peyton, and when they ask their parents why they are named Peyton, the parents will go, “Uuhhh, because we thought it was a beautiful girl’s name, of course.”