3:04 PM EST, March 7, 2012
Never in his life was he more fortunate not to have a ride.
It's not like Antoine Bethea wanted when he came to the Indianapolis Colts West 56th Street complex, but being new to town during the first rookie workouts, he was without a way to get back to his hotel.
Luckily, someone was there to help out.
"One day I was just coming out, I think it was when the rookies first got in town, and I didn't have a ride back to my hotel so he gave me a ride," said Bethea of Peyton Manning.
However, it wasn't just the save of a walk which the future Hall of Fame quarterback gave to the young safety from Howard University, but also a small bit of wisdom.
"When you get in, just try to make a name for yourself," is what Manning told Bethea on that day. "So that's what I've been trying to do."
Two Pro Bowl selections later, it’s that advice that Bethea remembers about Manning on the day in which the quarterback was released by the team to which he played 13 seasons.
In a phone interview with Fox 59 Sports' Jeremiah Johnson, Bethea admitted that it will be a little weird not to have the quarterback in and around the complex.
"It’s most definitely something different and surprising since being that he's had that horseshoe on his helmet for so long," said Bethea of Manning's release, which was made official during a news conference on Wednesday afternoon. "So it is going to be something different around the building and the next year coming up."
" Peyton was a very, very instrumental component to us winning the Super Bowl, so like I said, Peyton will never be forgotten in Indianapolis regardless of what happens from here on out."
For Bethea, his memories don't just stop at that ride home during his first few days with the team. They are also present during his two trips to Miami for the Super Bowl and his Pro Bowl in 2007.
"Pro Bowl experience, just sitting down and talking, having a good time, enjoying the whole atmosphere especially when I was in Hawaii, being in my first one," said Bethea. "Those experiences are always good and, you know, the Super Bowl as well.
"Just a moment that will forever be logged into your mind and just seeing part of history in Indianapolis."
Now, that is where the Manning era is for the Colts franchise and left behind is Bethea to be a veteran presence on a rebuilding team. When he arrives for mini-camp this spring, he expects to reflect on the advice he got six years ago from a teammate turned Good Samaritan.
"That's what I'm going to try and continue to do and just keep moving forward," said Bethea, remembering the wisdom delivered during a routine ride to the hotel.
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