Admittedly, I have not been a fan of Peyton Manning over the years. Part of that has to do with the amount of Colts fans I’m surrounded by. Another part comes from his success, and my perception of him as a complainer. But Peyton Manning is a legend, no question about it.
I have already argued that the Colts should keep (or have kept, assuming the reports on ESPN are true) Manning. Andrew Luck could have had an opportunity to learn from one of the greatest of all-time. The Colts are foolish if they think Luck will absolutely follow Manning generic viagra us with success — he may, but rookie quarterbacks are far from a guarantee.
But Manning is more than just a quarterback for Colts fans. He represents the reemergence of a franchise which was once great but had in recent years struggled to return to its former glory. Manning brought 11 double-digit win seasons and 11 playoff berths to Indianapolis and is a hero throughout Colts nation. He brought a Super Bowl to Indianapolis for the first time in the city’s history and the second in franchise history.
But more than that, Manning was a stabilizing factor for Colts fans. “With Peyton, anything is possible” was a common mantra for those who followed Indianapolis closely. No game was out of reach, no season was too far gone. Manning could resurrect anything and make something great from it.
Fans often went so far as to have blind faith in their quarterback, so even when he made mistakes, it was blamed on his teammates. But Manning was worthy of that blind faith. He never missed a single game in his professional career until last season. He made the playoffs nine straight times. He was league MVP four times and made 11 Pro Bowls. He was the definition of consistency and he never let down fans in their blind faith.
The only thing more certain in the mind of Colts fans than that Manning would lead them to glory some way or another was that if Manning was ever not around, the Colts would fail. And in 2011, the did just that. Now, with his health a question mark and the potential of a new quarterback and a fresh start, the Colts have decided to let Manning go.
Manning completed more passes, threw for more yards and threw for more touchdowns from 2000-2009 than any other quarterback in any other decade in history. His 11 seasons with more than 4,000 passing yards is the best in history. No quarterback in history has had more games with four touchdown passes, five touchdown passes or six touchdown passes. He has four career games with a perfect quarterback rating, also the best in history. He is third all-time in touchdown passes and passing yards behind just Dan Marino and Brett Favre. Manning is, without a doubt, one of the best quarterbacks in the history of the NFL.
For Colts fans, Manning’s departure isn’t just sad. It’s not just the loss of an old quarterback who has questions concerning his health. It’s not just the end of an era. The loss of Peyton Manning, for Colts fans, is a tragedy. Manning wasn’t just the leader of the Colts, the best player on the Colts or the face of the Colts. He was the Colts. The two were interchangeable and one did not go without the other.
Next season, Manning will likely line up behind center for another team, and there is an almost 50% chance he will line up under center against the Colts. And every Colts fan will have to answer a question for himself: “Where do my loyalties lie?” In most situations, devotion to a team should win out over a player every time. But not with Manning.
Manning was the Colts, and it’s tragic to see that he no longer will be. Colts fans will be able to continue cheering for their team, hoping that Andrew Luck can lead them to the same glory Manning did. But for the next few years, no matter what team he plays for, Manning will and should hold the loyalty of the fans he carried on his shoulders for so long. He has earned their blind faith.
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