It’s no secret that the Colts are hosting the ten-year reunion of their Super Bowl XLI championship team this weekend, with festivities including a halftime ceremony of Sunday’s Colts vs. Titans game.
There will be a number of former players and coaches in attendance, but the current Colts aren’t focused on that history, they’re focused on repeating it. They want to be the ones celebrating a Super Bowl ten years from now.
“I remember watching the game. I think it’s great,” quarterback Andrew Luck said yesterday about the reunion. “This building obviously has an incredible history. It’s in the middle of the season from our perspective as players. I think it is a little hard to think about, honestly no one has talked about it in the locker room. I think it’s great for the fans and it’s great for those guys, Reg [Reggie Wayne] and I guess Vinny [Adam Vinatieri] played on that team and Rob [Robert Mathis]. Cool, but from our perspective it’s a Titans game and we would like to be that team 10 years from now, 15, whatever it is.”
In order for them to accomplish that, however, they will need to have a strong second half of the season that is a turn-around from the first nine games, when the Colts went 4-5. Or perhaps they’ll need a defensive turnaround like the one the Colts experienced in 2006, except this time there’s no Bob Sanders coming back just in the nick of time. Still, though, it’s the proper mindset to have for the Colts moving forward, as this weekend’s celebration should provide a little extra motivation to want to have their own celebration years from now.
Though the Colts’ goal is obviously focused on this year and winning their games now, the players do have a deep respect for those who wore the horseshoe in years past and brought the Lombardi Trophy to Indianapolis.
“When Peyton [Manning] played back here that first time, that Sunday Night Football game when he was with Denver and the crowd gave him the well-deserved ovation – I think it’s going to be very similar to that,” punter Pat McAfee said when asked what he expects the crowd to be like on Sunday. “Peyton was the face of awesome here, right? He’s the guy who’s credited for winning the Super Bowl, building Lucas Oil Stadium and making Indiana a football place, but there were a lot of great dudes around him helping. I think Lucas Oil Stadium will be lit as a mother whenever those dudes walk out there and show appreciation. I know I’ll be clapping and I think the rest of the stadium will be doing the same.”
McAfee got the chance to play with Peyton Manning and some of the others who will be in Indy this weekend, as Bill Polian (who will also be in town for the celebration) selected the punter in the 2009 NFL Draft.
“[Polian] gave me a tremendous opportunity here, but we’re talking about a lot of legends,” McAfee said. “Not only in Indianapolis, but NFL legends coming back. I can’t wait to see them, chit chat with them, they’re just such good dudes who took care of me when I was young and making a lot of dumb mistakes. You’re talking about a lot of guys that gave me a lot of guidance and really got me to where I’m at today so I’m excited to see them.”
Linebacker D’Qwell Jackson was a rookie with the Cleveland Browns in 2006, but he remembers watching the Colts play. “When you talk about the Colts, and that was my first year 2006, you knew that team was going to score a ton of points and I believe during that playoff run, you always talked about the defense,” Jackson said. “Obviously, their offense with Peyton Manning and everything they had to bring to the table, but that defense played extremely well throughout those playoffs. I remember the game was down in Miami they were playing the Bears, it was raining, it was a game that you would think would be at a disadvantage for the Colts, but they were able to pull it out. You remember a ton of Hall of Fame players on that team, just a great team in general. Just to see those guys come back should give us some extra juice going into the game knowing that we want to make sure we win the game for those guys and make sure we welcome them the right way.”