My Colts-Manning-Irsay Rant
Just for a moment, let’s pretend that football is about human beings. Not teams, logos, merchandise, playbooks, win-loss records or MONEY.
The game is about PEOPLE. Players, coaches, staff, owners, and fans.
I’d like to introduce you to three human characters. First, the exiled veteran. A talented leader, smart and well-spoken, he has led his team to many victories and won the hearts of his fellow citizens.
Second, the new kid in town. The young man has potential; the people are becoming attached to him, though he’s a little awkward and inconsistent. He is an innocent bystander to the unfolding drama.
Third, the emperor. He has all the power and all the money. When he wants something from the people, he tells them his empire is theirs, but in the end, he makes whatever decisions he likes. Having inherited his empire from a father who also held no loyalty for the citizens, he makes it clear that his word is law, even though he has never gone to war himself.
For many years the veteran brought joy to the empire. As he got older, though, he was unable to recover from his injuries as quickly, and the emperor grew impatient. He threw the veteran out of the empire and recruited the new kid. The new kid is doing fine, and the citizens are learning to love him, but many remember the veteran. They have followed him in his new kingdom; they wish him well.
And now the day has come for the veteran to return to his old stomping ground.
Peyton Manning has returned to Indianapolis.
The citizens are divided, but the emperor’s position is unquestionable. Jim Irsay, true to form, opened his big mouth to ungratefully pronounce that Manning was let go because he won only one Super Bowl. Irsay is a prat.
Manning extended the Colts’ seasons 11 of 14 years.
He took us to two Super Bowls.
He turned Indianapolis into a viable football market.
Obviously, none of that matters to Jim Irsay who loves hearing himself talk almost as much as he loves lining his pockets with the money of Indianapolis taxpayers and Colts fans. For him, it’s all about the ring. Guess he values that more than all the dollars that we paid for tickets to those Manning-earned playoff games.
And the new kid is stuck in the middle. Poor Andrew Luck has huge shoes to fill. Maybe he will. Who knows? But I’ll tell you that if some Time Traveler returned from the future and told me that Andrew Luck will win eventually one of two Super Bowls with the Colts, I’d be thrilled. Sounds great!
Of course, no one knows the future. Maybe Luck will never even get to a Super Bowl. Maybe he’ll take the Colts to three and lose them all. Maybe he’ll go to five and win them all. Know what? We can only enjoy them one at a time, and the fact that Manning won one for us still makes me happy and proud. I will never be disappointed that we didn’t get more out of him. In fact, I hope he gets more Super Bowl victories.
Yep. My hope this year is that Manning wins the Super Bowl with his new team. If he can achieve an undefeated season at the same time, good for him. He’s a great guy. I’m grateful for what he did for my team and my city.
And I’d love to watch Jim Irsay writhe.
Does it make me a bad Colts fan if I’m okay with a loss tonight? I’m not a violent person, but I might hit you if you questioned my loyalty. I’ve been a Colts fan since they moved to Indy when I was 12 years old. I watched the Mayflower trucks roll into town. I remember the NFL sportscasters freaking out over the move, bashing Bob Irsay for being disloyal to Baltimore. I remember the Baltimore mayor almost crying on the national news. I remember Mayor Hudnut proudly shaking hands with Irsay on local TV. I remember an Indy business sold t-shirts that read, “Indianapolis Orioles.” (It was funny at the time.)
Don’t question my loyalty to the Colts.
But if the Colts lose tonight, Irsay loses. Manning wins. On a human level, that makes me happy. No matter what jersey he’s wearing, Manning deserves a win, and Irsay does not. I will be disappointed for the Colts and for Andrew Luck, who deserves a chance to earn the city’s love. Irsay is making that harder for him. If Irsay wants the people of Indianapolis to stop hating on him for cutting #18 (not to mention #63, #44 and other beloved players in that one shattering move), he should take a tip from class act Manning and keep his mouth shut.
Win or lose, Denver or Indianapolis, Manning or Irsay, tonight around midnight this game will be over. The teams will finish their respective seasons. Manning will likely play in the NFL for a couple more years. Luck could play for a decade or more. And God forgive me, but if Irsay’s bad habits catch up him before his Colts win another Super Bowl, I’d be okay with that too.