Peyton Manning has been released from the Indianapolis Colts. Has it hit you yet? Because for me, this leaves a deep, deep cut in my heart.
Peyton Manning wrapped up his teary farewell press conference with Colts owner Jim Irsay about an hour ago. There were emotions flying everywhere including the faces of both Irsay and Manning.
No one thought that this would be the last hoorah for Peyton and Irsay. This has been a surreal moment for me; I didn’t expect that Manning’s last game as an Indianapolis Colt would be a loss to the New York Jets in the Wild Card round of the playoffs in the 2010 season.
I know I’m usually Mike, the hoops blogger. But today, I just wanted to take a moment to reflect on Manning and what he actually meant to this franchise.
The man who has changed the NFL in so many ways has been released today. The 4 time MVP–the only player in NFL history to accomplish that–virtually changed the game into a passing league on his own. He is on the Mount Rushmore of the NFL and his career isn’t even over yet. In only his second season, Manning led the Colts to a 13-3 record. Throughout his historical run with Indy, he’s only had below 10 wins twice in his career. He started all 16 games in every season except the last one in which he did not see the field.
That has proven to be the most crucial season in his career. Manning will be 36 years old later this month; in the twilight of his career the Colts didn’t want to take a chance on four neck surgeries. Who could possibly blame them really? That’s a risk that you have to be willing to take. Manning and Irsay both reiterated that the money was not an issue in this situation. This was about the Horseshoe, this was about the city of Indianapolis.
Manning was an 11 time pro bowler with the Indianapolis Colts. He has seen people come and go throughout the organization. You hear names like Edgerin James, Marvin Harrison, Marshall Faulk, Bob Sanders; they’ve all come and gone. Until today, Manning was a mainstay for Indianapolis. He was a polarizing figure in the town that he had, and still will, call home.
As the Larry Bird era was ending in Boston, he was the pride and joy of the state of Indiana. He was considered the best athlete that had anything to do with the state. Indiana was primarily a basketball state. Before 98, when you thought of Indiana you would think of Hoosierville. You thought of Bobby Knight, the Final Four, Larry Bird, Reggie Miller, and the orange ball that was shaped like the world.
Not anymore though. Now, when you think about it, you must think of 18. You have to think of the horseshoe and you have to think of the Super Bowl that Manning brought back to them. Think about all of the success they’ve had in Indianapolis.
11 playoff appearances later, 399 touchdown passes later, 231 sacks later, 198 interceptions later, and most importantly 141 wins later, it’s all over. The man who flipped a franchise that was moved from Baltimore in the middle of the night right under our noses into a football mecca is now no longer with the organization. The man who built Lucas Oil Stadium and carried a whole state on his back is now just nothing but an adjacent memory. Its surreal.
I’ve said many times that I don’t see how anyone could just give their whole team away. Today, I just witnessed it with my own eyes. Throughout all the speculation, I never thought that this day would come. I’m honestly shocked and heartbroken that this man who has been associated full-time with this franchise, this city, this state, will no longer be sporting the Colt moniker on the side of his helmet.
Again, do you understand that? Has it sunk in yet? It’s reality. This is the world that we live in. This is the cold side of the business that America adores called the NFL. Love it or hate it, this is the way it is.
Manning said during his press conference that he has not had time to think about who he will play for next because he has been reflecting on his memories with the organization. Not only the front office, but all the way down to the weight room equipment managers. No one has handled a situation like this with more class, and I have to say that Peyton deserves a round of applause for it.
With that being said, bravo Mr. Manning. Farewell, and may your future stay bright.
Mannings Greatest Moment