By Kyle | March 7, 2012
Now that the Peyton Manning era has come to a frustrating end, paradoxically I’m not really a Colts fan anymore. Such is my respect for the man that I’m now a fan of whatever team he plays for next year, and this after 35 years of (admittedly irrational) cheering for the Colts, a vaguely cursed franchise that showed, I fear, its true colors this year in his absence. I couldn’t bring myself to root for the Patriots, but Manning won’t be playing there. I have nothing against the Chiefs, Titans or Dolphins and will be happy to root for them for the next couple of years as the Colts obviously won’t be Super Bowl contenders anyway for quite some time. I crave for Peyton his proper recognition as the greatest quarterback, and consequently the greatest player, in the history of the NFL and it appears that acknowledgment will not come unless he wins a second Super Bowl. I think he’ll pick the team that is most likely to do that, and that would be the Dolphins, the Jets or the Titans. I doubt he wants to work for a head case like Dan Snyder; indeed, I doubt he wants to play in the NFC.
Colts owner Jim Irsay gave an emotional but illogical and self-contradictory press conference in which he alternately said money had nothing to do with the decision to cut Manning and the salary cap was a problem. Irsay released Manning because he didn’t want to risk $28 million on damaged goods, but he couldn’t bring himself to say that. Bill Polian just went on ESPN to point out that that payment only would have been damaging to the Colts this year–and an Andrew Luck-led Colts won’t be in the Super Bowl next year, whereas a Peyton-led Colts would have had a chance at it. The Colts aren’t really in a rebuilding situation; they were 14-2 two years ago and barely lost their only playoff game in 2010. They have improved their offensive line, their principal problem, since then, though you couldn’t tell in 2011 because Curtis Painter couldn’t take advantage of it.
So Irsay should have simply paid the man what was owing and let Luck learn from the great man for the moment. This is a horrible day in Colts history, right up there with the most painful defeats, the day the franchise was forced to trade John Elway, the day Art Schlichter was drafted, etc.