I visited my brother this weekend. He’s my hero and you’d like him if you met him. We were trying to figure out what to do with an afternoon. Usually Lambs pass quality time together by shopping or eating ice cream. Sometimes we multi-task and eat ice cream while we shop.
Sometimes great ideas come about in the form of a joke. “We should go on a Kyle Orton tour,” I told my brother. “We could try to find his boyhood home and track the beginnings of his rise into a professional quarterback in the NFL.”
He laughed and then said the two words that get me in trouble all of the time: “Google it.”
And suddenly our afternoon plan was hatched. We would google Kyle Orton and try to find his house. We would visit his high school and take a picture of whatever we thought was interesting about his hometown. And we would crack jokes and laugh most of the way through it.
I love Kyle Orton. He was an awesome high school quarterback. He played for Purdue. He’s currently the starting quarterback for the Denver Broncos. I’ve been a Broncos fan since I was 6 and I have Purdue flip flops. So there. (I also love Tim Tebow. And Brady Quinn. And anyone who ever plays quarterback for the Denver Broncos.) But yes, I love Kyle Orton. The neckbeard, the way he just barely tolerates the press, his work ethic, his willingness to let Tebow have the spotlight… I love that he plays quarterback for my favorite NFL team ever. I love that wearing his jersey got me out of a speeding ticket in Hartford, Iowa. If I’m honest, mostly I love that he’s from Iowa.
And so we set out to find out more about Orton. My brother and I headed to South East Polk in Pleasant Hill, Iowa to see the football field. It was 4:30 in the afternoon on a Friday and we were surprised to see fans already filling the parking lot to tailgate. They humored me with my silly questions.
“Do you know him? Did you see him play? Anyone have any good stories?”
All I got out of them was that one of the kids knew a sibling of the guy who used to snap the ball to Kyle Orton. I bet there are a lot of stories like that about him. Everyone knows someone who knows him and they all say he’s a really nice guy.
One of the tailgaters told me to go check out the display of Kyle Orton stuff in the lobby of the school. He told me there was a jersey and some trophies. My brother and I followed directions and headed across the street to the beautiful new school. We interrupted set up for some Homecoming banquet, but the coordinators of it pointed us to a case. I was a little disappointed. Sure the jersey was autographed, but my Kyle Orton shrine in my tv cabinet has his jersey, a signed football and his trading card. I think I’ve put more work into honoring the guy.
We did find an address on the internet for a house we thought he’d probably lived in sometime. We drove by it and there was a man gardening outside. It felt way too creeperish to get out and talk to the man or even to take a picture. The thing about Kyle Orton is he seems to protect his privacy quite a bit. There aren’t a bunch of stories out there about him– except for the stupid drunk college pictures. I really am not a stalker. Really. No matter what you hear.
I’m glad my brother humored me by driving me around Pleasant Hill and Altoona. He’s an awesome brother. If you want the Kyle Orton tour, he’d probably give you one. Be ready for silly statements like “I bet if Kyle Orton went to Wendy’s, that would be his Wendy’s.” Or “You think Kyle ever does a Walmart run at that very Walmart?” We thought we were funny.
Here’s what’s cool to me, though. Kyle Orton grew up in Iowa. He’s a normal person with parents and a wife and now a baby and he’s pretty close to me in age. He’s applied himself and focused so much on getting really really good at one thing. If I could have half of the discipline of any NFL caliber quarterback, that would be enough for me. If I could run a youth program with the intensity and focus that he runs an offense, that would be enough for me. If I could shrug off negative press or gossip, move on from sketchy things in my past (no, there aren’t drunk party photos of me– go ahead and look) and if I could just continue to show up play after play even after dropping a slippery football while playing the Raiders, that would be awesome. That’s really all it takes to make a hometown proud. Show up and be great. (Or good. Or better than the other guys trying to get your spot.)