After 8 months of “will they or won’t they”, the Colts and Peyton Manning finally parted ways. I’m here to try to give a logical outlook from a fan’s perspective, since I’ve heard “talking heads” speak about how Colts fans are mad…this couldn’t be more false. I hope I can shine a new perspective on the dilemma the Colts are facing and why most Colts fans wish the best for Peyton Manning.
First, let me make it clear that ever since it was clear that the Indianapolis Colts were going to get the #1 pick in the NFL Draft, I knew that Manning would be gone. If anyone paid attention to Manning’s contract extension talks that happened last summer, you knew that owner, Jim Irsay, wanted to make him happy. Irsay wanted to make Manning the highest paid quarterback in the NFL and was offering him more money than Manning even thought was necessary. He took less than what Irsay was offering him, because he wanted money left to get other players and maybe this was a hint that he knew that his neck wasn’t healthy enough to play. This situation could have been much worse, especially if Manning agreed to the amount of money that Irsay was first offering him. I wanted to make that clear before I start to explain what the average Colts fan is thinking about this whole ordeal.
Since the end of the regular season, the Colts organization has made it clear that they are going into full-blown rebuilding mode. They fired the President, GM, Coach, and a lot of the other team personnel. The team offered a long-term deal to wide receiver Pierre Garcon, who turned down the deal. Garcon is an average 3rd receiver on a .500 team, so this was a big red flag. The Colts also re-signed defensive end, Robert Mathis, to a long-term deal. This was the final nail in the coffin in the Peyton Manning saga. They wouldn’t have had the money to keep Manning after re-signing Mathis. A knowledgeable Colts fan already knew the answer before the owner announced that they would release Manning.
I was listening to Colin Cowherd’s radio show this morning and his idea of what the average Colts fan is thinking was infinitely wrong. I shouldn’t have expected that he would be a good judge, since I disagree with most of his views, in which most are said to be the antagonist. He said, “Colts fans shouldn’t be mad, they are the luckiest franchise in the league. You didn’t earn the #1 pick when they drafted Peyton Manning and they didn’t earn the #1 pick this year.” First off, how does one “earn” the #1 pick in the NFL Draft? The #1 pick goes to the team who ends with the worst record in the league. Does a team have to intentionally throw games to “earn” the #1 pick? After saying that, Cowherd rattled off Manning’s career accomplishments, which were mostly incorrect. Cowherd was only correct about the fact that the Colts have been the luckiest team in the NFL, because as fans, we had the chance to root for a great quarterback and a stand-up guy for over a decade.
Growing up in Northern Indiana in the late 80’s & early 90’s, I didn’t know many other Colts fans. One of the earliest seasons that I remember, the starting quarterbacks were Jack Trudeau & Gary Hogeboom. The team went 3-13 and it didn’t get any better after that. They acquired Eric Dickerson and had a few 8-8 & 9-7 teams, but the carousel of starting quarterbacks still occurred. As fans, we had to endure Chris Chandler, Jeff George, Paul Justin, Craig Erickson, Don Majkowski, and finally, “Captain Comeback”, Jim Harbaugh. The Colts were up & down through these years, but never had a franchise quarterback. They had some talented guys at other skill positions, but they couldn’t get over the hump. They would get high draft picks year after year, but with picks like Steve Emtman & Trev Alberts being busts, they couldn’t catch a break. When the Colts went 3-13 in 1997 and received the 1998 #1 overall pick, I’d say that they “earned” Peyton Manning.
Colts fans have endured bad seasons and teams that overachieved with lackluster talent. We aren’t the New York Yankees, Detroit Red Wings, or Dallas Cowboys, if they don’t make the playoffs, their fans turn into an angry mob. We have won the most games over the last decade and we are blessed fans. We will have a few down years, but it will make the next winning season that much better. We are a group of optimist fans and will continue to support the team.
We wish Peyton Manning and thank him for all that he has done for the city of Indianapolis and the state of Indiana. If it wasn’t for him, Lucas Oil Stadium would have just been an unused blueprint and Indianapolis would have never hosted a Super Bowl. Saying all of that, we just hope that he doesn’t go to a team that will destroy us in the near future. If he comes into Lucas Oil Stadium on the visiting team, he will be cheered. After he retires, he jersey will be retired and will most likely get a statue in front of the stadium. Until then, we wish you the best, Mr. Manning.
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