In a perfect world, Peyton Manning would have taken care of business in front of the home fans in Super Bowl XLVI.
Obviously Peyton’s body had other plans and as a result of subpar personnel and poor planning by the organization, Colts fans suffered through a humiliating 2-14 season in 2011. It was the worst record for the franchise since the 3-13 display in 1997—the year before Manning’s rookie campaign.
This year’s draft marks the fourth time the team has landed the first overall pick since moving to Indianapolis in 1984—a year after the former No. 1 overall pick John Elway forced a trade to the Denver Broncos. The Colts selected a quarterback twice with the top pick—Manning in ’98 and Jeff George in 1990 and took DT Steve Emtman first overall in 1992.
Here we are 14 seasons, 4,682 completions of 7,210 attempts (64.9 completion percentage), 54,828 yards, 399 touchdowns to 198 interceptions (with 722 yards and 17 scores on the ground) later, and the Indianapolis Colts have virtually no choice but to hit the reset button with “cant-miss” prospect Andrew Luck.
What factors make taking Luck basically a foregone conclusion?
Age: Well, for starters, Peyton will turn 36 next month. Albeit Brett Favre became a grandpa and played six seasons at the age of 36 or older before he finally left the game in a ball of flames, he only threw for more TDs than INTs in two of those seasons.
Health: Favre didn’t have significant injury concerns, either. The Favre of July didn’t miss a start until he turned 41-years-old. Granted, Peyton never missed a start before this past season—which is also remarkable—he did however just miss an entire season. He dealt with multiple back surgeries and that alone should at least caution most teams interested in his talents to think twice before making a deal.
The Time Is Right: Sure, you could keep Manning around to develop Luck. But the problem with that is you could end up with the same scenario as the Green Bay Packers when they felt they had to force Favre out the door. With a new coach, offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator, general manager and additional changes expected to happen to the player personnel on the horizon, this looks to be the best time to end the era and possibly get some great trade value out of Peyton if they choose not to release him.
Eli < Peyton: There’s talk heating up in some circles that Peyton’s little brother Eli Manning has become the superior signal-caller. Maybe this is true at this present time and perhaps over the rest of Peyton’s career, but let’s not forget history, my friends. Eli has two rings, and deserves to be referred to as elite, but it’s a team game. Trent Dilfer is not better than Dan Marino because he won a trophy.
Peyton V 2.0: Now to the Luck side of things. Colts fans got a glimpse of life after Peyton this past season. It forced blood to shoot out of the eyes of fans in Indy. We have heard about the intelligent, polished and precise passer out of Stanford for two years.
How could even the most loyal Peyton/Colts fans not get excited about the possibly of landing the second coming of Peyton Manning? Having the Super Bowl in their backyard also helps matters. They got to experience what they were missing firsthand.
Price Tag: In addition, another reason why it’s time to move on from Peyton is his $28 million roster bonus that is due in March. Jim Irsay simply can’t put the franchise at risk by making that payment.
Where he lands is up for debate. The Miami Dolphins, New York Jets and Washington Redskins have all been mentioned as possible destinations. To paraphrase Semisonic, he doesn’t have to go home, but he can’t stay here.