The Indianapolis Colts announced yesterday that former General Manager, President, and Vice Chairman Bill Polian will be inducted into their Ring of Honor this upcoming season. It was a no-brainer decision to include the Hall of Famer among the Colts greats, and Polian will become the 13th member of the franchise’s Ring of Honor.
It’s a strange group of people included. There’s owner Bob Irsay, who moved the team to Indianapolis in 1984. There’s wide receiver Bill Brooks, offensive lineman Chris Hinton, and quarterback Jim Harbaugh, who were three of the biggest standouts from a down era for the team. There’s head coach Ted Marchibroda, who coached both the Baltimore and Indianapolis Colts and led the team on a magical run in 1995. There’s Colts Nation, the fans. There’s running back Edgerrin James and center Jeff Saturday, two of the best players to wear an Indianapolis uniform and standouts on the Peyton Manning era team. And then there’s five Hall of Famers: running backs Eric Dickerson and Marshall Faulk, head coach Tony Dungy, wide receiver Marvin Harrison, and now general manager Bill Polian.
So who is next up to be inducted into the Colts’ Ring of Honor? There are a number of people who are deserving, so let’s take a look at the options. One note: the players examined here must be out of the NFL, following with the precedent set by the Colts with their Ring of Honor. That takes away some obvious options such as Dwight Freeney or Robert Mathis, but it’s a fair distinction to make. With that said, here’s the easy top choice:
- Peyton Manning, quarterback - There’s really no debate about it: Manning should be in the Ring of Honor yesterday. They retired his number and are building a statue of him outside of Lucas Oil Stadium (which itself is a testament to Manning’s legacy). There is no one who compares to Peyton Manning when it comes to the Indianapolis Colts franchise, and he has essentially been an unofficial part of the Ring of Honor for years because everyone knows he’ll wind up there soon enough.
But since that is such an easy answer, let’s go a little further. Outside of Manning, who are some names to pay attention to for the Colts’ Ring of Honor? Here are some candidates.
- Reggie Wayne, wide receiver - Another easy choice, Reggie Wayne will one day be a part of the Colts’ Ring of Honor without a doubt. He may wind up in the Hall of Fame as well, but the recognition with the Colts is certain. He’s number two in most major receiving categories behind only Marvin Harrison, has played in more games with the Colts than anyone else, and was a leader and fan favorite for years. If there was ever any doubt, returning to a rebuilding team in 2012 and then playing so well that year (including the ChuckStrong game) sealed the Ring of Honor for Wayne.
- Dallas Clark, tight end - Clark was also a fan favorite during his time in Indy and proved to be a very dangerous receiving threat for Peyton Manning. In 2009 he was as good of a receiving threat and as big of a receiving difference-maker as there was in the entire league, and he gave the team good play in several other seasons as well.
- Gary Brackett, linebacker - Brackett was a seven-year starter at linebacker and a defensive captain for several seasons, helping lead the way for Indy’s defense. Though the Colts weren’t known for defense during the era, Brackett was still a starter for some of the best defenses in the NFL in 2005 and 2007, plus the 2006 playoffs.
- Bob Sanders, safety - If we’re going by impact, Sanders certainly could warrant inclusion in the Ring of Honor. When healthy, he was as good as any safety in the NFL and a huge difference-maker. In only two seasons did he start 14 or more games, but in each of them the Colts finished as a top-two defense in terms of points, while they were third in yards as well in one of those years. On top of that, Sanders’ return for the 2006 playoffs was a huge spark that helped lead the Colts to their Super Bowl title. He was the Defensive Player of the Year in 2007, while he was a first-team All-Pro and Pro Bowler in both 2005 and 2007 (those two years he was healthy). Sanders’ time with the Colts was limited due to injuries, but his impact was massive.
- Tarik Glenn, tackle - It’s easy to forget about Tarik Glenn, but he was an incredibly reliable left tackle for the Colts for years, manning the position from 1997-2006. He made three Pro Bowls and started 154 games, missing time in only one season (he missed six games in 2003). Though Jeff Saturday is the more well-known of the Colts offensive linemen ,their unit was one of the league’s best for years and Glenn was a huge part of that in protecting Peyton Manning’s blind side.
- Tom Moore, offensive coordinator - I’ll just say up front that I know this one won’t happen, as assistant coaches don’t usually get put in the Ring of Honor and the Colts already honored Moore in 2011, but if we’re discussing people worthy of the honor Moore’s name would certainly need to be brought up. The architect of the Colts’ record-setting offense, Moore led the offense from 1998-2010 and brilliantly worked with Peyton Manning to utilize a shotgun-based passing attack that helped to revolutionize the NFL. Manning has immense respect for Moore and the two worked so well together for so long that the former offensive coordinator is deserving of the honor - even though it won’t happen.
Obviously, the Colts have plenty of people who are worthy of being inducted into their Ring of Honor, and that number will only increase once players like Dwight Freeney, Robert Mathis, and Adam Vinatieri are done playing. So of those ‘eligible’ currently, besides the obvious choices of Manning and Wayne, who do you most want to see in the Colts’ Ring of Honor?