POSTING BY BIG ANGRY
I’ve been a resident of the state of Indiana for nearly twenty years now. I’ve seen a lot of changes happen in this state from finally adopting Daylight Savings Time to the transformation of Indianapolis from a sleepy town to a vibrant city that is not only capable of hosting a Super Bowl, but did it in a manner that had people raving. There have been trials and tribulations this state has dealt with throughout my time here, and I’ve seen Indiana say farewell to its share of sports icons. From the firing of the outspoken and overrated Bobby Knight to the retiring of career Pacer Reggie Miller, and the split of open-wheel racing with CART and IRL, Indiana has been a hotbed of sports activity. However, nothing, and I mean nothing tops today’s announcement of the Colts releasing Peyton Manning from their roster.
It can be said with much confidence that no other sports figure in the history of this state that has done more for the betterment of Indiana than Manning. In Manning’s 14 years in Indianapolis he not only took a team that was a complete joke and turned it into a force to be reckoned with, he also helped to establish a children’s hospital. Peyton enabled Indy to build one of the best sports arenas which, in turn, allowed for an expansion to the adjacent convention center to bring bodies and money into Indianapolis. Of course, I could also run his stats across here to further the argument of Manning’s status as a superstar for Indiana, but this isn’t Sportcenter, tune in there for stats.
My workplace, like I’m sure many locales across the state, stopped at noon today to hear the official announcement from owner Jim Irsay and Manning himself. Though we all knew what the outcome would be, I heard many utterances of wishing for a last second deal that would keep Manning in Indianapolis. However, this isn’t a feel-good sports drama, this is reality. Though, my personal hope was that he would retire and become the Colts offensive coach, but again, that isn’t reality. During the press conference, Manning was well prepared with his statement and as articulate as he could be while fighting back tears. It was apparent that Manning does not want to leave.
Though, let’s be honest, can the Colts afford to make a multi-million dollar bet for another possible year on the sideline? I can fully understand the conundrum the Colts organization faced. On the other hand, Jim Irsay came off sounding completely inarticulate throughout the conference; fumbling through incessant “uh’s” and “you knows” while trying to make his point. I guess my biggest beef with Irsay is not letting Manning go, but the denial that it was about money. Jim, a word of advice, don’t say it isn’t about money in one sentence and shortly thereafter talk about an organization that has “salary cap issues.” It comes off as a bit insincere. That being said, I appreciate Jim’s expression of gratitude towards Peyton Manning and hinting that the Colts 18 will be retired as it damn well should be.
Peyton’s release from the Colts has been met with anger, sadness, and silent acceptance. Through it all one thing remains constant: Colts fans are grateful for the 14 years Manning has given the city of Indianapolis as player and humanitarian. Whatever team he decides to play for, you can bet that the NFL shop will be shipping his new jersey to several households in Indiana this Fall. Peyton Manning is Indy’s Walter Payton and deserves the same respect. He takes with him, wherever he decides to hang his hat, a very loyal fan base long ago established through hard work and dedication to his craft and fans.
If I can make one request to Peyton Manning, it would be taken a lesson from the Kenny Rogers song, “The Gambler” and know when to fold ’em. When it’s over, keep your integrity intact and retire with dignity. In other words, for God’s sake, DO NOT pull a Brett Favre.
This is Big Angry saying it’s not always been pretty for the Colts, but the past 14 years have been fun. Here’s to the future, whatever it may bring.