The biggest story of the NFL offseason was the Peyton Manning situation. All eyes from around the league were watching what was going on with the legendary quarterback. There were questions about whether or not he would ever play football again, much less play well. He was released from the team he spent the past 14 years giving everything to. The city of Indianapolis was divided - should they continue to root for their beloved quarterback or should they stay loyal to their Colts? When Manning signed with the Denver Broncos, some Colts fans decided to go with him.
But the majority of Colts fans stayed loyal. The Colts sold out their two preseason games, and they also sold out their regular season opener this upcoming Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings. Of course, after they saw how their new franchise quarterback, Andrew Luck, looked in the preseason, they had reason to say loyal to the Colts.
Luck, the league's first overall draft pick, is as NFL ready as any quarterback to come out of college since John Elway. He will provide the Colts with a decade-plus of championship caliber play. This preseason, he quieted all doubters (if there were any) by his spectacular play. All the doubters who thought that the Colts should have kept Manning looked like idiots, as well as those who thought the Colts should have taken Robert Griffin III over Luck (RG3 went second overall to the Washington Redskins in the 2012 NFL Draft).
I thought, maybe, we had moved past the debate of whether the Colts should have kept Manning or gone with Luck, like they did.
Until Peyton Manning's spectacular performance Sunday night.
Peyton Manning was tremendous in the Broncos 31-19 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. He looked exactly like the Peyton Manning I watched for years. Injury? What injury? Just seeing him on the field last night was enough to make me happy. This is a guy who I thought was done - I thought that his injury was the end of his brilliant career. Even though he wasn't wearing the familiar blue and white, I still was watching my favorite player ever play again, something I never thought I would be able to do again. And he lit it up.
Of course, since Manning was incredible last night there are those Colts fans that want him back. There are those fans that think Jim Irsay should have kept the NFL's only four time MVP, putting it all together for a final run.
Sorry, but those kinds of stories are found in movies. Not real life. Sure, Manning could have gotten the Colts to the playoffs - he is that good. But to think, that with the team the Colts had, Manning could win a super bowl or two with the Colts is just unrealistic. It would have been a fairy-tale ending to a great career, but so often in life, and in football, there is no happy ever after.
Not even with Peyton Manning. He's gone, now trying to win a super bowl with a very good Broncos team in the final years of his hall of fame career. He has about four years left in him - and even if he keeps up the caliber of play which he had Sunday night, that is only four years of championship football.
Now consider for a minute Andrew Luck. Sure, his debut was a bit rough (but I thought he played pretty well overall). His line couldn't block, his running back couldn't catch, he was playing one of the best teams in the league and was behind for most of the game. He will be fine, in fact he will likely have a bounce back week this Sunday against the Vikings.
And in the long run, Luck will give the Colts championship play year in and year out. Maybe not this year, and maybe not the next (that's up in the air right now). But for the next decade-plus, the Colts are set at quarterback. That's at least ten years of championship football.
Ten is greater than four, folks. You don't need to be great at math to know that.
Maybe the caliber of play over the ten years won't quite live up to the caliber of play in Manning's four, but then again how many people have lived up to the caliber of Peyton Manning? Nearly every quarterback to ever win a super bowl has not been greater than Manning. Luck doesn't need to be better than his predecessor, he just needs to be himself. And that will be good enough to win championships.
The pressure increased greatly for Andrew Luck last night, and I didn't really know that was possible. Some fans are saying that Irsay should have kept Indy's hero on their team. They can't accept that the guy they have is good - no, great. The start was rough for Luck, but does anyone remember Manning's debut? His statistics were almost exactly the same as Luck's were Sunday.
Yes, Peyton Manning will likely win a super bowl for Denver in the next four years. But Luck has the potential to give the Colts a chance every year for the next ten to fifteen years. I would take the latter every time. Look, I love Peyton Manning. He will always be my all-time favorite player. But he is a former Colt. The current Colt, and the future of the Colts, is Andrew Luck.
And he was the absolute right decision. This franchise has moved on from the days of 18 to the days of 12. And those days ahead are bright. Almost as bright as the past that shines in the minds of Colts fans.
The pressure is on Andrew Luck. But it won't affect him. He's too good. After all, while he doesn't have to live up to Peyton Manning, he certainly seems a lot like his predecessor. And that, Colts fans, is why the Colts made the absolute right move - because, no matter what happens with Manning in Denver, Indianapolis has a quarterback too. And ours will be around for a while.