Friday, March 16, 2012

Peyton Manning and the decline of loyalty

Loyalty is a commodity that seems in short supply these days. As our society becomes more and more focused on materialism, we see constant examples of how people can be discarded so somebody else can make a little more money.

I do not want to sound naïve. In the marketplace, the whole point is to make money. The employers we work for will not have a company for long if they do not turn a profit. I understand that.

However, it is still difficult to watch when people have dedicated decades to an organization and then get shown the door simply because the winds of change are blowing.

Perhaps the most ruthless examples of this happen in professional sports. As much as people love the National Football League, we must understand that player contracts are not guaranteed in this brutal sport. Basically, players can be dumped regardless of how many years are left on a contract. A recent example of this was when the Indianapolis Colts released quarterback Peyton Manning, who had been part of the team for 14 years.

Manning missed all of last season because of a neck injury. However, doctors have proclaimed him healthy and in the last few months his rehabilitation has been going smoothly.

The sticking point with him remaining with the team was a $28 million bonus he was set to receive as of March 8. The Colts decided they did not want to abide by the contract that was negotiated in good faith with Manning so they let him go.

I know the question those reading this want to ask: Isn’t $28 million entirely too big a bonus to be paying a football player? I do not believe so. The Colts signed this contract with Manning, and I do not believe it was too much to ask that they abide by it.

Manning is one of the most marketable players in the league, and his value to the team in the last decade and a half allowed the Colts to make tons of money off him. Before Manning went to the Colts, they were a losing franchise that nobody paid attention to outside of Indiana.

I do not believe it is a stretch to state that the Colts multi-billion dollar stadium would not have been built if not for Manning playing for the team. He was that valuable, but now he is gone.

We should not shed many tears for him because he is extremely wealthy and will land on his feet. However, we are all vulnerable to the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately attitude that the Colts showed him.

This is because no matter how much our employer says they need us or how important they say we are to their plans, they will abandon us if it helps their overall goal.

We have seen this repeatedly happen in the last few years as millions lost their jobs and unemployment skyrocketed above nine percent for a while. People with decades of service to employers were booted because their employer needed to restructure.

For better or worse, people derive a lot of their self-worth from the occupation they have or the company for which they work. This makes us especially vulnerable when the economy slows down and many of us are thrown into uncertainty.

More than anything, situations like these remind us that the most meaningful roots we put down probably should not be with who employs us. It should be with things that have lasting value and will stay with us when times are both good and bad.

God and family should be where our focus is. There are not many things more reliable than these.

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