Colts had to be Peytonstrong before Coltstrong
The Colts were brilliant on Sunday and beat arguably the league’s best team in the Denver Broncos, but Jim Irsay lost not only respect, but perhaps his friendship with Peyton Manning thanks to his useless comments in the days preceding what was supposed to be a legendary night.
The Luke was absolutely rocking and Manning received a long, emotional standing ovation, but something still felt like it was amiss.
It’s almost as if you could see it in Manning’s movements during his ovation. This was originally planned as not only a battle of two great football teams, but the homecoming of a legend and perhaps a true farewell for the greatest quarterback of all time.
And for the most part, that’s exactly what it was. The football world always knew Manning would be received with open hearts on Sunday night. The people and fans of Indianapolis know what #18 has meant to the city, to its community, and to its sports lore.
Yet with the warm “Welcome home, Peyton!” from the fans, it was clear that Manning deserved more on Sunday. The video tribute inspired chills among the crowd and Manning got his chance to show the fans how much they mean to him.
“Thank you so much,” Manning mouthed while touching his heart.
The moment, while incredibly emotional and well worth the wait, still wasn’t perfect.
Why? Jim Irsay.
The man who runs the horseshoe, or at least funds it, used his comments, which he defended as comments aimed at the structuring of past teams, not at Manning, to boast why he thinks this newest incarnation of Colts football is far superior, despite their own one-and-done in the playoffs.
And if we’re totally honest, it’s hard to argue with Irsay on the direction of the Colts. They are winning and they are doing it as a balanced, physical and imposing football team. But who should bare the blame for the past, as if there needs to be any blame at all? Peyton Manning?
We saw what Indy was without Peyton in 2011 – a two-win football team. This brightly highlighted just how ridiculously impactful Manning was while a Colt.
Quite simply, if it weren’t for Manning, the Colts could be playing in Los Angeles right now. Oh, and that uber-expensive stadium with the virtually useless retractable roof? Manning and the tax payers of Indianapolis made it possible.
So whether you believe Irsay’s words were a dig at the greatest Colt and quarterback of all time, there’s no need to pretend that the Colts would be the Colts without Manning. Sure, they’d be here and perhaps they’d be a great football team, but they certainly wouldn’t be remembered as the Colts that were a symbol of dominance.
You just can’t erase those years. The Colts were World Champions. Period.
And you can repave the path to success and put down new concrete, but you can’t forget that Manning is the reason you ever stepped one foot on that path in the first place.
Think about it: Two Super Bowl appearances. One Lombardi. Seven AFC South titles. Nine-straight playoff appearances.
Yeah, the Colts are currently enjoying the view from up top – they’re Coltstrong. But there’s one thing that will always remain true: they had to be Peytonstrong first.
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