Full disclosure: in no way will I attempt to keep this article objective.
Everyone and their mother knows the deal:
- Peyton Manning has a scary neck injury.
- Andrew Luck is the greatest QB prospect since John Elway.
- Peyton Manning is owed a lot of money on Thursday.
- The Colts are in a tough spot.
Rational thought says that the “smart” move is to draft Andrew Luck. Common sense tells you that neck injuries are frightening, and no team would be wise to tie up $28 million on a player with an uncertain future.
You know what? I don’t care.
Common sense doesn’t matter to a fan. Rational thought matters even less.
Here’s what I do know: Peyton Manning should retire in a Colts uniform. Because of Jim Irsay, he’s not going to.
And because of that, I will no longer be a Colts fan.
Yes, I can hear you right now on your high horse. Go ahead and call me a fair-weather fan. Go ahead and call me a sell out. I can hear you in Cleveland…whining that I don’t truly know what it’s like to go through heartbreak as a fan. I can hear you crying the same thing up there in Minnesota.
I have heard the same lame thinking time and again: “You are a fan of a team, not a player.” Blah, blah, blah.
But here’s the thing. You are all wrong because of one reason. No player in the history of professional sports has meant more to a specific team or franchise than Peyton Manning has to the Colts.
Larry Bird? Sure, he meant a LOT to the Celtics, but did he save basketball in Boston? Please. The Celtics had already won a dozen championships before Larry Legend came on the scene. Of course the Boston fans adopted him as their own, and cheered him more than most Boston athletes…but to compare him to Peyton Manning? They aren’t in the same ballpark.
Derek Jeter? Mickey Mantle? Yogi Berra? Babe Ruth? Sure, each of them was vital to the Yankees’ success over the past hundred years…but without one of them, are the Yankees really missing much?
Michael Jordan? I guess he comes close. He brought six titles to the Windy City, and he’s the most famous athlete in the world. But let me ask you this – when you think of Michael Jordan, is Chicago the first thing that comes to mind? Is it in the top five? Michael Jordan meant a lot for BASKETBALL…but he left Chicago years ago and hasn’t given it a second thought.
No, when it comes to Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts, no other player/team combo comes close.
Peyton is the Colts. Can non-Colts fans name five other players on the team? Can actual Colts fans name ten?
Peyton saved football in Indy. Without him, we would be watching the Los Angeles Colts draft Andrew Luck this April. Peyton built Lucas Oil Stadium by himself. He brought a Super Bowl to the Circle City.
Peyton saved sports in Indiana at a time when the state needed him the most. Class basketball had destroyed Cinderella stories. Bobby Knight left and a few idiots destroyed Indiana basketball. Ben Wallace, some thugs, and David Stern dismantled the best team in the NBA.
There was a void in the sports world for people in Indiana, and Peyton Manning filled it.
Well guess what, Mr. Irsay? Indiana doesn’t need the Colts anymore. While you may not like the following statements, they are all true:
- Indiana is now, has always been, and will always be a basketball state.
- IU is back, Butler is relevant, and Purdue and Notre Dame are both legitimate hoops contenders as well.
- The Baby Pacers are exciting, fun to watch, and a legitimate playoff team again.
- The state of Indiana likes Peyton Manning, and has enjoyed cheering for him much more than the Colts, in general.
I feel tied to Peyton Manning. I have defended him more than any other team/player/coach in sports.
Peyton Manning has my loyalty, and he should have had the Colts’ loyalty.
But he didn’t.
You sold him out.
And now I’m selling you out.
Have fun kicking a pigskin around the next several years. You may even win some games with this Luck kid. But I won’t be watching…unless #18 is on the other side.
And in that case, I won’t be cheering for the Horseshoe.