When Kristen Patterson wrote a letter to Peyton Manning on behalf of her Army sergeant husband in September, she did not expect the response she got three months later.
On Sept. 21, Patterson wrote the letter telling Manning how much of a fan her husband, Army Sgt. Ryan Patterson, was.
“He is currently serving our country in the United States Army and has deployed twice to Afghanistan. He would set alarms to wake up at odd hours in the night just to listen to your football games,” Patterson’s letter read. “We recently had to move across the country for the Army and he tried to get us stationed in Colorado just so he could ensure that he would never miss your games.”
Patterson, from Indiana, told Manning that her family recently moved from Kentucky to Alaska but said they had planned to attend the Broncos versus Bengals game on Dec. 22, when they were back in the Midwest to visit family for Christmas. In her letter, she asked Manning if he could arrange to meet with Ryan before or after the game.
“It would mean so much to my husband if you might be able to find the time to just even say hello, not to mention it would make me the coolest wife ever of all time,” Patterson said. “I know you are a busy man, and if you can’t, it will be ok. I just thought I might ask in the rare chance that you might agree to this.”
Manning read the letter and instructed the Broncos’ PR team to track Patterson down and arrange a meeting. Patterson, however, forgot to leave contact information. It took three months, but the Broncos got a hold of Patterson through Alaska State Troopers. When police called her, the first thing they asked was if she wrote the letter.
“When I got a call from (an Alaska) State Trooper they asked if I wrote a letter to Peyton Manning,” Patterson said. She had no idea why Alaska authorities would’ve known anything about what she wrote.
“They said the Denver Broncos were trying to get a hold of me,” she said. “When I sent it, you never know if someone is going to read it or if it is going to be tossed in a pile. So I thought they never read it, no big deal.”
Patterson was able to keep the meeting a secret until it came time to go to the Broncos’ hotel in Cincinnati on Dec. 21. “I was trying to keep it as a surprise, but I’m a horrible liar and I couldn’t think of a reason why we would be going to a hotel,” she said. “It would have been really hard to keep it (a secret), plus he needed time to process everything.”
When Ryan was told that he was about to meet his favorite quarterback, he thought it would be a quick meet-and-greet with other fans. he had no idea he was going to meet Payton in a private conference room at the hotel.
The Patterson said that Manning was very down to earth and approachable, and he even played with their younger daughter. “He seemed genuinely tickled that we lived in North Pole, Alaska. He said, ‘You guys are really hard to find,'” Ryan said.
Manning thanked Ryan for his service, giving him an autographed football and took a photo with the family. The sergeant said this was one Christmas present he would never forget.
“(Kristen) enjoyed the fact that she is the greatest wife ever and there was nothing I could ever do to top this,” Ryan said. “If you asked me who is the one person, anybody in the world, I want to meet, I would immediately say Peyton Manning and she made that happen.”