February is nearly always greeted with trepidation, and even dread, by folks living in the northern hemisphere. The days are short, the skies are dark and the air is cold, and there is no holiday season to buffer the bitter winter. The second month of 2012 has started out as an especially harsh time for fans of NFL superstars and music icons alike. First, we learned early in the first full week of February that Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts was working out at Duke University and barely able to throw. Next came word that the Pittsburgh Steelers may be ready to cut ties with future Hall of Fame receiver Hines Ward. And then, late in the evening of February 11, came the big bombshell: Whitney Houston died in a Beverly Hills hotel room.
Of course, losing great and beloved football players to trades, free agency, declining health or free agency pales in comparison to the death of anyone, especially such a huge light as Houston, but there is a sense of mourning in all three cases. The Colts wouldn’t have a Super Bowl victory under their belts without Manning, wouldn’t have a new stadium, wouldn’t have hosted Super Bowl XLVI and might not even still be in Indianapolis. The Steelers likely wouldn’t have their two most recent Super Bowl victories without Ward, and he’s been a pretty strong personality for the NFL over the last decade. And, regardless of your personal tastes in music or opinion of Houston, she helped shaped the entertainment landscape that we purvey today.
So, thank you very much, February, for living up to your reputation. You are, in many ways, the cruelest month of the year, and in 2012, you’ve robbed us of our status quo and our icons. And the bonus for us is that it’s Leap Year: one extra day of February!