End of an era
Drafted in 1998, a new era in Indianapolis started. For the next 12 seasons, 7 AFC South division banners, 2 AFC championships, and 1 Super Bowl were won. One neck injury and a dismal 2-14 season after, the face of the Indinapolis Colts, Peyton Manning, was released on March 7th.
Obviously, cutting ties with Manning was difficult, but after a season which saw the league’s most valuable quarterback on the sidelines with a career-threatening injury, owner Jim Irsay was insistent on rebuilding the team, which climaxed with the release of Manning. Unfortunately, this move proved to any skeptics that this is a business, and loyalty isn’t a high priority in football. However, in a football sense, was this the right move?
Andrew Luck, the Stanford phenomenon who is expected to be taken with the Colts’ number one pick in this year’s draft, will have the standard expectations that come with being the number one pick. However, what are the expectations for a quarterback who is expected to fill the void for one of the game’s top quarterbacks? The pressure is without a doubt insurmountable, and some may argue that it will be tough to overcome for a rookie like Luck. Yes, the bonus that Manning was owed was extremely steep, but Luck sure could use some guidance from one of the game’s best, similar to how Aaron Rodgers sat back for a few seasons while Brett Favre took the lead. It gives the newbie much-needed experience and knowledge about what the NFL is really like.
Also, this move can’t be expected to pay off in the short term. After completely annihilating team personnel and releasing more players like Dallas Clark, who’s going to lead this team through huge adversity and win? Peyton Manning sure would’ve been the glue to this team, which would’ve helped the extremely young team immensely.
Yes, Peyton Manning’s bonus was steep. Especially when you’re getting a top quarterback prospect like Andrew Luck, it may not seem reasonable to hold onto Manning. However, Manning is a once-in-a-lifetime quarterback. He’s a rare exception that any team would love to keep around because he knows how to win.