For someone that has often wondered if Irsay and Manning parted on good terms as Irsay has portrayed it, this has been a sad and interesting week. Now we know they did not and we know that in some ways Colts Nation is as divided over Peyton Manning as Hoosier Nation was over the dismissal of Coach Knight. It takes me back to an extremely emotional time in early March of 2012. Manning was released on March 7 2012. For the rest of you, March 9, 2012 the day that the Colts also released Dallas Clark, Joseph Addai, Gary Brackett and others. I know it as the day my Father passed away. No I won't forget when all this happened for a very long time.
At that time I leaned towards trading the pick for a ransom and drafting Russell Wilson, Ryan Tannehill or Kirk Cousins as the back-up quarterback. That was nothing against Andrew Luck at all. Luck was and is clearly the best college quarterback available in many years year. I don't think anyone that wanted to keep Manning has anything against Luck. Luck has handled a near impossible situation flawlessly. Still I wanted Manning to retire a Colt. In the future I wanted Manning to be the face of the organization that could recruit players to the Colts the way Elway recruited Manning to the Broncos or perhaps have the clout with players that Larry Bird has with the Indiana Pacers. Now I don’t believe that will ever happen at least with the Colts.
I do not believe that Jim Irsay is a mean bad guy. His Father could be very surly but while Jim has his quirks I don’t think anyone thinks he is a mean spirited person. I do believe there are those in the national media that are taking advantage of the situation and spinning things into Irsay’s statements that never actually said. You know vermin like Skip Bayless and other national parasites.
I do not believe that Jim Irsay intended for all of this controversy or to discredit the Manning/ Polian/Dungy era. Still in the past Jim spoke about THE Horseshoe and keeping things in the family. Irsay says he admires the Rooney family and Bob Kraft as NFL owners but he doesn't follow their examples. He wants to be loved and is clearly insecure about fan reaction to the Manning decision. .
I agree with Coach Dungy that you have to understand history of the team in Baltimore. I recently heard the local talking heads on 1260 AM say the Baltimore history is not important. When you consider the current owner's daddy bought the team when he was 12 that is a ridiculous position to take. Jimmy spent his youth as John Unitas towel boy so to suggest the Baltimore experience is irrelevant today is crazy as long as an Irsay owns the team. That history explains the insecurities of today.
In those days Unitas was old and finished. He wouldn't retire and they dumped him to San Diego and eventually drafted Bert Jones. Neither the Colts or Unitas handled the situation well. For Irsay this is Déjà vu only worse. Unitas was done when he was traded and barely played one more season as a back-up before retiring. Bert Jones never had to play against Unitas. In this case the legend that got shipped out is still playing great. Jimmy made a business decision. I also believe that Irsay felt with all his heart that something terrible would happen to Manning if he ever stepped onto a football field again.
Regardless of what Irsay intended, Jim did not express himself very well. The biggest problem I have with these comments are they throw Dungy and Polian under the bus. That may make the local media happy but the comments also throw Freeney, Mathis, Edge, Marvin, Reggie, Bethea, Sanders, Saturday and many other teammates under the bus. Some of these guys are still on the team. Go stick a microphone in front of Fili Moala and ask him how it feels to hold Peyton back his last couple of years with the team and see how that works for you.
As far as the playoff and ring stuff, today say I offered Chicago Cubs fans a deal where they would make the playoffs 9 years in a row, win the division nearly every year, play in three National League Championship Series, two World Series and actually WIN one World Series. My guess is about 105% of them they would take that. Ask Bengal fans or Lions, Jet or Browns or just about every NFL team other than Pittsburgh, N.E. and the NY Giants if they would take a decade like that and they will say hell yes. The "ring argument" is completely ridiculous and out of hand among the media types but that is for another day.
This weekend should be about Peyton. Without Manning the Colts wouldn’t have a waiting list for tickets, wouldn’t have a fabulous new stadium with a sweetheart lease and Los Angeles wouldn’t have wanted them either. Without Peyton (and Polian) the Colts never escape the first 14 years of football futility that ranged from at best mediocre to unwatchable. There was one wonderful Jim Harbaugh playoff run and that was a fluke. Sorry to all of you negative angry guy media types but the Manning era glass is more than half full.
The Manning era brought us playoff games, even HOME playoff games and EVEN the AFC Title game- TWICE! The Manning Era created even created jobs for bloggers. I do not distance myself from that era. They were fun team, an entertaining teams and in addition to the excellence Manning brought to our city we also were spoiled with Mathis, Reggie, Marvin, Freeney, Sanders, Saturday, Glenn, Pollard, Clark, Edge, Brackett Bethea, Stokley, David Thornton, Raheem Brock and many others.
Sunday will be tough on me. I will always root for the Colts and have been a Colts fan far longer than most of you have. Still, I can’t hope for Peyton to play badly. I would NEVER wear an orange Manning 18 but I would never boo him either. Imagine if Reggie Miller had played one final season for Dallas or the Celtics. I hope Manning plays well and Andrew does too. The Broncos defense has holes and their offensive line has sustained several injuries. The Colts can win this game but they cannot play passively. They must get Denver off the field on 3rd down or Manning will score 60 on them. On offense they have to let Andrew Luck be Andrew Luck and make plays against a suspect secondary.
Thank you Peyton and thank you Tony Dungy, Bill Polian, Marvin, Edge, Dwight and your teammates for making Indianapolis and Central Indiana a football hotbed.