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The Colts' Ring of Honor has been a big topic of interest in recent years, as guys like Tony Dungy, Marvin Harrison, Edgerrin James, Eric Dickerson, Marshall Faulk, and Jeff Saturday have all been inducted over the past few years. That list, of course, includes two Hall of Famers, three Hall of Fame finalists this year, and a guy who's not yet eligible for the Hall but who played 13 seasons for the Colts.
We could, then, ask the question of who the next one in the Ring of Honor should be, as there are plenty of candidates to choose from. General manager Bill Polian, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame last year, deserves to be in the Colts' Ring of Honor. Wide receiver Reggie Wayne, who has said he is retiring, is a lock. And we don't even have to spend a second discussing quarterback Peyton Manning, as his name will be hung in Lucas Oil Stadium as soon as number 18 (which is retired by the Colts, by the way) officially hangs it up. Defensive end Dwight Freeney is still playing as well, but whenever he retires his name would be an obvious candidate for the Ring of Honor too. In other words, the Colts have a lot of deserving candidates that should go in their Ring of Honor over the next few years.
Most of those, however, are easy calls. We could talk about which one deserves to go in next (if Manning retires, it's him, and if he doesn't, then my vote would be Reggie Wayne), but we're then only discussing what order the deserving candidates should be honored in. So we're going a different direction here, as we're simply looking at this question: which current Colt has the best shot at making the team's Ring of Honor once he is done playing?
Right from the start, quarterback Andrew Luck comes to mind. He has a ton of talent and, even though 2015 was a rough year for him, he figures to be the team's franchise quarterback for the next decade. If that actually happens, Luck can be considered a lock for the Ring of Honor. In fact, he has a better case already than some might think, as Jim Harbaugh is in the team's Ring of Honor and Luck has played in more games, won more games, led more fourth quarter comebacks, led the team to more playoff appearances, completed and attempted more passes, thrown for more yards, thrown for more touchdowns, and rushed for more yards and touchdowns than Harbaugh during each of their times with the Colts.
Another name to consider would be wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, though like Luck that would be based on expectation for the future as well - and much moreso than Luck's case. So instead of selecting either one of those guys as the current Colt who has the best shot, let's look at some veteran players. That's not to say that Luck can't or won't continue his level of play or that Hilton won't either, but at this point there are other players with a better case.
There are two current veterans in particular who I think have a legitimate shot at making the team's Ring of Honor based solely on what they have already done for the franchise, not based on what they might still do. The two guys I'm thinking of are outside linebacker Robert Mathis and kicker Adam Vinatieri.
Mathis has played in 178 games for the Colts over the past 13 seasons and is the Colts' all-time leader in sacks and the NFL's all-time leader in strip-sacks. Mathis has recorded 118 sacks, 51 forced fumbles, 15 fumble recoveries (two returned for touchdowns), an interception, and 19 passes defensed while making five Pro Bowls and one first-team All-Pro team. While some might like to have the argument about who deserves it more between Mathis and former teammate Dwight Freeney, I'd argue that both of them deserve to be in the Ring of Honor when it's all said and done.
The other name I thought of is kicker Adam Vinatieri, though it's much harder for a kicker to receive acknowledgements like this. During his ten seasons in Indy, however, Vinatieri has converted 240 of 277 field goals (86.6%) and has enjoyed the best statistical stretch of his career - as, over the past three seasons he has made 90 of 98 field goals, in 2014 he made 30 in a row to start the year, and in 2015 he made 25 in a row to end the year. Three of his five seasons over 90% in field goal kicking have come in Indy, and Vinatieri was also a crucial part of the Colts' Super Bowl run (he made five field goals in the divisional round game against the Ravens, providing all of the team's scoring). You could make the argument against Vinatieri belonging in the Colts' Ring of Honor by saying that he won three Super Bowls with the Patriots, but he has been tremendous in ten years with the Colts and Jim Irsay has also shown that he's ok putting a guy in the Ring of Honor even if they produced more elsewhere (such as Eric Dickerson and Marshall Faulk).
So if you ask me, I'd say that Robert Mathis probably has the strongest case of any current Colt to one day make the Ring of Honor, followed by Adam Vinatieri. What do you think? Which current Colts player most deserves to be in the Ring of Honor once he retires?