As a longtime Colts fan, I am not extremely concerned about our current situation. We are in a tight AFC South division race at 6-5. We have a solid chance to win the division and advance to the playoffs. Remember -- when we won the Super Bowl, we did not have a bye. It could potentially play to our advantage in developing end-of-the-season momentum heading into the playoffs, without resting our starters, preparing for a hard-fought post-season battle.
At the same time, I see that Peyton Manning has not been surrounded by the strongest personnel. His offensive line is flimsy, at best, while his battered receiving corps has been whithered down to the walking dead. The absence of Joseph Addai has only made the situation even more unfortunate. As Peyton Manning's contract is ending, and as Tony Dungy, as well as the voice of Tom Moore in Peyton's headset, are gone, you have to wonder -- does Peyton Manning want to end his career as a member of the Indianapolis Colts?
I understand that we can slap the franchise tag on him for next year, and that we are in the midst of great uncertainty due to the debacle between the owners and the players' union. Still, you have to wonder about Manning's future in Indianapolis. Peyton Manning is 34 years old. You have to wonder how long the iron man can keep his consecutive starts streak going. You have to wonder how productive he can be with the last 5-7 years of his NFL career, and whether these will be played in the sacredly-donned blue and white or in another team's jersey.
Money should not be an issue for Manning or for the Colts. The Colts have openly expressed their desire to make Manning the highest paid player in NFL history. Manning surely knows he will get paid. He is among the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history, without a doubt. And as Manning ages, most likely, he will continue to claim more records as his own. Nevertheless, Manning has proven that he is human in the past two games. Throwing ill-advised and inaccurate passes resulting in interceptions, as well as pick-6's, Manning has not been able to do it on his own. He has actually struggled in this role of late, working with the likes of an overachieving Jacob Tamme, a damningly inconsistent Pierre Garcon, what remains of Reggie Wayne, and the rest of the Indianapolis crew.
You cannot deny that there are greener pastures for Manning. I love the Colts; don't get me wrong. Still, the Colts are aging, and their window may be closing. Without Manning, the window slams immediately. Would Manning leave the Colts? I personally am not sure. But if he did, I wonder, how would be perceived? In my mind, I would not forgive him. He would be public enemy number one, and I would be hoping his team lost every week. I believe most Colts fans would agree with me there. I feel as if a Manning-less Colts team would be even more heartbreaking for the city of Indianapolis than a post-Decision Cavs team for Cleveland.
Still, for the unbiased, general sports audience, I do not know who would be seen as more of a villain if this scenario played out-- Peyton or LeBron. As Peyton puts his body on the line every play, in and out, being forced to stand behind a patchwork offensive line, there is undoubtedly more of a physical toll for him. He deserves solid protection, as well as a better surrounding cast. I hope we are able to overcome our injuries and back up #18, in hope of gaining momentum for what is to come. Until the ship is righted in Indy, and until Peyton signs on the dotted line, I will not be able to help but wonder about what could happen.