The first Sunday of the NFL season was an up and down day for us. More down than up. We watched as our rookie quarterback, Andrew Luck, was baptized into the NFL by the Chicago Bears defense with Julius Peppers performing the rites. Thanks to the Colts offensive line, Luck now has the number 90 tattooed on his chest, something he didn’t ask for or pay for. Hopefully the Colts will pay to have it removed. Luck took it like a man though, and now we fans need to do the same.
At the same time Luck was making his debut with the Colts, Robert Griffin III had his own rookie debut with the Washington Redskins. Only his was more of a debutante ball. RG III’s coming out party came complete with protection, two touchdowns, a passing record for a rookie start, and the grand finale…a victory over the New Orleans Saints and their Superbowl MVP Quarterback, Drew Brees. The Heisman Trophy winner looked every bit the part. And the twitterverse was quick to remind us that RGIII was the second quarterback taken in the NFL draft.
And then, the day ended with our ex-quarterback, who we’re still in love with, playing on Sunday Night Football with his new team, which is admittedly better than ours. Peyton was…the quarterback that we used to know. He passed, got sacked and bounced up like a weeble wobble (if you don’t know what that is, stop reading this immediately), and in the process hit a milestone…his 400th touchdown pass. The 400 Club puts Peyton Manning in the exclusive company of Dan Marino and Brett Favre. And he did it in a Broncos uniform. Yes, 399 of those touchdowns came as a Colt. But Peyton Manning is not a Colt anymore.
Naturally, the talk this week revolves around the Colts and the decisions they made in the offseason. Yes, Peyton Manning looks healthy. Yes, he will probably lead the Broncos to the playoffs. And yes, he could possibly win a Superbowl for the Broncos, perhaps even this year. But all that being said, Jim Irsay still made the right decision when he parted ways with Peyton Manning. Because…the Colts are not the Broncos.
It still makes sense that with a 36-year-old quarterback with three neck surgeries, it was time to move on. It still makes sense that with an aging offense and often injured players, it was time to move on. It still makes sense that after two seasons of uninspired coaching, it was time to move on. And it still makes sense that after having no backup for Manning and a few blown drafts by the general manager, it was time to move on. And the opportunity to draft a promising young quarterback like Andrew Luck made it even more so.
Yes. Peyton Manning looked great on Sunday night. So? Cheer for him! He may not be our quarterback, but we can always be his fans. I choose to respect Peyton Manning and his history with the Colts. And to keep a special place for him in my heart. But I can do that while embracing our new team and our new quarterback and moving forward with them into this next era of Colts football.
Time stops for no one and marches in one direction. This week Peyton Manning officially moved on. And now it’s time for Colts fans to do the same.