Super Bowl 50 Was The End Of An Era

IMG_4582

Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Marvin Harrison called it a trifecta. Others may call it a hat trick. I call it the end of an era.

For me, Super Bowl 50 marked the close of the first chapter of my Colts fandom. And I couldn’t have written a sweeter ending myself.

I feel like I’ve spent most of my adult life defending Peyton Manning, his record, and his legacy. Monday morning was the first day I woke up and felt like I didn’t have to. With his 200th win, his second Super Bowl, and with the love of two cities behind him, Peyton Manning wrote (what is likely) the final chapter of his playing career.

Manning gave Indianapolis the best years of his football life. And when he went to Denver to try to write his own ending, Colts fans returned the favor by supporting him like he was still their quarterback – because he was. And he is. And he always will be.

In the end, Jim Irsay was right. Hard as it was, parting ways was the best thing for Peyton and the franchise. The Colts got their next quarterback. Peyton got his next Super Bowl. And with his legacy firmly cemented, with nothing more to prove, “The Sheriff” can ride off into the sunset as the greatest quarterback ever to play the game.

The third time was a charm for Marvin Harrison, the star wide receiver and Peyton Manning’s favorite target as a Colt. Overlooked twice by the selection committee, on Saturday night, he was officially announced as a Hall of Fame inductee. As someone who remembers him from our days together at Syracuse, you can bet I’ll be there in August to see him enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

IMG_4565

A quiet guy (even in college), Harrison has one quote that defines his career. “They pay you to practice. The games? Those are for free.” He never missed a practice. Never took a play off. And it’s that work ethic that took him from Philadelphia to Syracuse to Indianapolis and now to Canton.

Joining Marvin Harrison as a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2016 is his former coach, Tony Dungy, a beloved member of the Colts family and the father figure of the NFL.

IMG_4602

The love and respect Dungy garnered from the players, the fans, and everyone around him is Hall of Fame worthy itself. But his record number of wins, division titles, and playoff appearances, capped off with being the first African American head coach to win a Super Bowl sealed the deal.

Tony Dungy is not just a great coach. He’s a great man. And come August, he’ll be remembered for it forever.

Peyton Manning, Marvin Harrison, and Tony Dungy are the holy trinity for me as a Colts fan. They made me a Colts fan. Those years were special. And now, looking back, they seem downright magical.

It wasn’t just about the wins and losses. It was how they made us feel, the people and the lives they touched along the way, mine included.

Life doesn’t guarantee anyone anything. Football rarely allows a choose-your-own ending. But somehow, the greatest era in Colts football got the fairy tale ending it deserved the weekend of Super Bowl 50.

And I got one more memory that will last a lifetime.

Leave a Reply