It was a long, beautiful love story. A young lady with no chance of love meets her Knight in shining armor and they make the world jealous before the lady leaves and thinks she’s better off with someone new, only to live happily ever after with that new guy.
Well, that might not be exactly how the Peyton Manning era was in Indianapolis, but probably pretty close.
We do know the real story though, the Colts were the laughing stock of the NFL with the number one overall pick. They had their choice between two top-tier quarterbacks, and they (luckily) chose Peyton Manning over Ryan Leaf. A smart move, as Leaf is regarded as one of the biggest busts in NFL history, and Manning, one of the best in the league’s existence.
It ended abruptly when the NFL’s Ironman had to undergo a surprise surgery on his neck, not once, but four times before was all said and done. It was a fascinating story to follow – when would Manning be back? Nobody knew.
Peyton Manning helped get Jim Irsay a Super Bowl Ring, but Irsay doesn’t think it was enough. (AP Photo/Joe Mahoney)
He missed an entire season, and still wasn’t ready to go. The Colts had finished with a 2-14 record and were staring another franchise changing quarterback right in the face. Andrew Luck was widely regarded as the best pro prospect since Manning himself, and he was set to go to the Colts.
The problem? The Colts still employed Manning, who’s future was still up in the air.
Enter 2013: Since then, Manning was released and signed with the Broncos, and Andrew Luck has helped turn the Colts around from the 2-14 team they were in 2011.
This week, the two teams meet in Manning’s first return to Lucas Oil Stadium, a game that has been circled on both teams’ schedules since it was released.
There’s obviously a huge story behind this game, and Colts owner Jim Irsay has spoken up a bit about it – in surprising fashion.
He talked about Manning endorsing Luck, saying that he was crazy if he didn’t draft the young stud.
“He said, ‘You’ve got to take Andrew,’” Irsay recalls, via USA Today. “‘You have to. You’re crazy if you don’t.’”
Irsay continued, pleased that Luck has been a part of a special team that was built in one offseason.
“I think it’s perfect,” Irsay said. “What’s happened is what Peyton and I hoped would happen. The desire was for him to get well and get to a team that has a chance to win another Super Bowl before his career ended. And our desire was to be able to transition to Andrew. To be so good so soon is stunning.”
He mentions that Manning wanted this to happen, and of course Irsay is fired up, but later in the interview he takes a big shot at Manning.
“(Tom) Brady never had consistent numbers, but he has three of these,” Irsay added. “Pittsburgh had two, the Giants had two, Baltimore had two and we had one. That leaves you frustrated.
“You make the playoffs 11 times, and you’re out in the first round seven out of 11 times. You love to have the Star Wars numbers from Peyton and Marvin (Harrison) and Reggie (Wayne). Mostly, you love this.”
Whoa. I didn’t see that one coming. Irsay is a smart guy, despite what his Twitter shows.
For him to come out and take a jab like that is a bit over the line. Yes, his statement is true – but astonishing coming from the man that signed Manning’s checks for so long.
Broncos Head Coach John Fox agreed as well, saying that the comment was uncalled for and a bit over the line.
“To me, in my opinion, they were disappointing and inappropriate,” Fox said on Sirius XM NFL Radio via USA Today. “I mean, Peyton would never say anything. He’s too classy to do that. But they sounded a little ungrateful and unappreciative to me for a guy that has set a standard, won a Super Bowl, won division titles, won four MVP awards. I’d be thankful with that one Super Bowl ring because there’s a lot of people that don’t have one.”
Manning is set to meet with the media tomorrow, and will likely not retaliate against Irsay to avoid any distractions from preparing for Sunday’s game.
What do you think? Is Irsay in the wrong here?
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Down and Distance Editor-in-Chief – Justin Arbogast @NFLGuy_SK
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