On Friday, the Indianapolis Colts honored the greatest player in their franchise history, as Peyton Manning returned to the franchise after four years away. The Colts announced a statue of Manning coming outside of Lucas Oil Stadium and the retirement of Manning's number 18 jersey, and it was a time to reflect on the past on the greatest era in Colts history.
As the Colts looked back, however, the team's past coincided with the team's present and future. Manning, whose family is friends with the Luck family, caught up with current Colts quarterback Andrew Luck before the press conference. That conversation led to this amazing picture from the Colts:
March 18, 2016
Four years ago, the Colts cut Manning so that they could draft Luck, and now that Manning's playing career is over, he was back with the Colts on Friday and met Luck. It's interesting how things come full-circle, and Jim Irsay didn't get so caught up in the successes that he missed just how fortunate the franchise is to go from Peyton Manning's legendary play to now having Andrew Luck.
"It's just really special," Irsay said of the Manning era to close Friday's press conference, before then mentioning the bright future ahead too. "We treasure our memories that we've been able to build up here, and we're also looking forward so much to the future. Peyton and Andrew had a chance to get together and talk before we came up on stage, and just seeing those two guys together, as an owner you say, 'you're very lucky!'"
The Colts are very lucky indeed (no pun intended), as Manning won four MVP awards and led the Colts to eleven playoff appearances during his time with the Colts, in addition to shattering record books. While that's a lot for Luck to live up to, he still is a pretty good quarterback in his own right and should have a very good career as well. Having just completed his fourth season, Luck doesn't even begin to compare to Manning, but Luck is as talented as they come. Through his first four years, he has thrown for 14,838 yards and 101 touchdowns while also rushing for 1,101 yards and 12 scores.
Though last year was a rough one for the Colts, if Andrew Luck can stay healthy and if the Colts can make some moves to build around him, their future is indeed bright. Count Peyton Manning among those who think the Colts have the pieces in place moving forward.
"I'm a big Andrew fan and a big Chuck Pagano fan as well, and I think [the Colts are] in good hands for the future," Manning told Colts.com's Steve Andress on Friday.
Manning spent time after his press conference talking with Colts head coach Chuck Pagano, who was in attendance, as was general manager Ryan Grigson. As Colts fans know very well, however, the most important piece is the quarterback position. They had 14 years of one of the best of all time, and now they have a bright future with a very promising and talented player as well. As Jim Irsay pointed out, he feels lucky as an owner to have Peyton Manning and then Andrew Luck at quarterback, and he's absolutely right in feeling that way.