DAVID CARROLL: “Hey Logan, this is Peyton Manning…” - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

THINKING OUT LOUD

DAVID CARROLL: “Hey Logan, this is Peyton Manning…”

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Peyton Manning Peyton Manning
Logan Pickett with UT Coach Butch Jones Logan Pickett with UT Coach Butch Jones
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

How would you like to get a phone call from your hero?  Especially if he’s a 2016 Super Bowl champion?  That’s what happened to Logan Pickett on Tuesday night.

Logan, in case you didn’t know, is the Heritage High School senior who scored a touchdown seen ’round the world last fall.

Logan is autistic, and served as the football team manager.  Coach E. K. Slaughter, as good a man as there ever was, thought it would be nice to cap Logan’s high school career with a touchdown.  He came up with a plan: suit up Logan, call the opposing coach, and when the time was right, Logan would enter the game, take a hand-off, and sprint into the end zone.

That’s how it all went down in the Heritage-Cartersville game last October 2nd, and Logan’s touchdown went viral.  A few weeks later, Logan was the guest of his beloved Tennessee Vols, with Coach Butch Jones, quarterback Josh Dobbs and others giving him the royal treatment at a practice session.  There were lots of handshakes, hugs and photos that day, giving Logan an experience he’ll never forget.

Just days earlier, the Vols had beaten Georgia 38-31, and even now when Logan sees a Dawgs fan, he yells out “38-31!”  So I think I’ve made the point: he LOVES the Vols.

He might love Peyton Manning even more.  When Denver beat Carolina 24-10 last February in the Super Bowl, it was Logan running out of his house at 10:30 that night, informing his neighbors at the top of his lungs, “We won the Super Bowl!  Super Bowl champions!  Whooo!” The neighbors just laughed.  That’s our Logan!  You can watch (and hear) his 10 seconds of sheer joy below:

Now, fast forward to Tuesday April 19.  Logan’s mother Danielle got a phone call around noon from an unknown caller, who represented Peyton Manning.  “Are you Logan’s mom?” the caller asked.  “Yes I am, how can I help you?” she replied.  “Well, if Logan is going to be home tonight, Peyton would like to give him a call,” she was told.

“It sounded official,” she told me, “but I didn’t tell Logan about it, just in case it was a joke, or Peyton would forget to call.”

At 7:30 Tuesday night, the phone rang.  Danielle looked at the caller ID. “Private Number,” it said.  She picked up.  “Hello?”  The deep voice on the other end said, “Are you Mrs. Pickett, Logan’s mom?”  “Yes I am.”  She said, she recognized the voice immediately.  “This is Peyton Manning, could I speak to Logan?”

Logan was “chilling” on the couch.  “Logan, you have a phone call,” she said.  “Who is it?” Logan asked.  “You’ll have to come see,” he was told.  She put the phone on speaker.

“Hey Logan this is Peyton Manning,” the caller said.  Logan reacted with the first thing that came into his mind.  “On a hawk! On a hawk!”  Peyton wasn’t sure what he’d heard at first, then realized it was Logan’s imitation of the quarterback’s famous “Omaha! Omaha!” signal at the line of scrimmage.

After that, Danielle said, “Logan’s manners kicked in.”  “How ya doin?” Peyton asked.  “I’m good,” replied Logan.

“Hey I heard about your touchdown,” Peyton said, “that’s pretty awesome.”

From there, the two carried on a normal conversation, football star to football star.

“You are my hero,” Logan told Peyton.  “I’ll miss you playing for the Denver Broncos.” “Well,” Peyton replied, “I had a lot of good years there, and I’ll miss it too.”

Logan told Peyton about his collection of Manning memorabilia: newspaper articles, posters, Sports Illustrated clippings.  He talked about his love of Tennessee football, and how he hopes to see Peyton at a game there this year.  “I hope so too, Logan,” Peyton said, “Now you take care, and let me talk to your mom.”

Danielle thanked the superstar for calling, and told him about Logan’s late-night announcement to the neighborhood about Denver’s Super Bowl win.  “He loved that,” she said.

Later that evening, Logan said, “I can’t believe I met Peyton Manning!” His mom said, “Well, you didn’t really meet him, you talked to him on the phone.  He repeated, “I can’t believe I met Peyton Manning!  It’s a dream of a lifetime!”  So as far as we’re concerned, he met Peyton Manning.  And to make it official, he will surely do just that at a Vols game in the very near future.

The day after, Danielle told me, “I don’t know who set this up, but I am very grateful.”  It all happened so quickly, she didn’t think to record the call, but she has no regrets.  “We’ll never forget Peyton’s kindness,” she said.  I’m sure he gets hundreds of requests every day to call or visit someone, and I know he can’t do them all.  I guess there was something about Logan’s story that touched him.”

Maybe when Peyton saw Logan’s picture and videos, he saw a younger version of himself: a young man with big dreams. Danielle even pointed out that Logan, a tall, rangy teen, even looks like Peyton did in his younger days.

This is for sure: Peyton is proving that one small gesture of kindness, that may take only a couple of minutes out of your day, can make a huge difference in someone’s life.

Logan Pickett only scored one touchdown in high school, but has more fans at Heritage (and beyond) than any football hero could ever dream of having.  Now he can count a Super Bowl champion quarterback among his fans.  But I’ll bet Peyton is smiling even more today.  Now he can count Logan Pickett among his friends.

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