Prior to the 1998 season, the Indianapolis Colts were essentially the poster children of what it meant to be an NFL doormat. After moving to Indianapolis in 1984, the Colts had five winning seasons, and made the playoffs three times. There was talk that they could move again, leaving Indianapolis for greener pastures where a city desperate for anything that remotely resembled an NFL franchise would welcome them with open arms.

Instead, the Colts fortunes changed when, on a fateful day in 1998, they decided to draft Peyton Manning over Ryan Leaf (yes, this was actually a discussion back then. Seriously.) In two seasons, Manning took the Colts to the playoffs, and turned them into a perennial contender, culminating in a Super Bowl victory in 2006. In fact, over the decade of the 2000’s, the Colts only missed the playoffs once, during a 6-10 2001 season.

The fact that Manning essentially made the Colts relevant for the first time in almost two decades has been lost on some, including Colts owner Jim Irsay. He took a subtle shot at the player who rescued what had been a moribund franchise, stating that he felt they should have won more than one Super Bowl in Manning’s time with the team. Naturally, he picked the week that Manning and the Denver Broncos are heading to Indianapolis at the time to do so.

What Irsay has failed to realize is that, without Manning, he would not even have that one ring. Just ask Jim Kelly how hard it is to obtain one, no matter how many chances a team has. Lucas Oil Stadium would not exist. All that money spent on sponsorship would not have been pumped into the Colts coffers. Chances are, the Colts would not even be in Indianapolis, having departed for Los Angeles.

Prior to the game, the Colts are going to honor Manning in a pre-game ceremony. There will be video montages of his time with the Colts, and former players who played with Manning are likely to wax poetic about what it was like to play with such a legend. Irsay himself is probably going to come down from his owner’s box and make a presentation. Manning’s jersey is likely to be the most prevalent in the crowd, as fans think back to the days of Manning, Marvin Harrison, and Reggie Wayne. Then, they will get to see Manning as he is now, teamed up with what may be better referred to as a scoring machine as opposed to an offense.

If Peyton Manning needed any more motivation to play well in what is essentially a home game for him, than Jim Irsay provided it with his misguided comments. The Colts may be in line for a vintage Manning performance, only this time, it will be their defense that he eviscerates. 

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