Peyton Returns To His Old Place
By Daniel Calzone
There are three certainties in life -- death, taxes and Peyton Manning entering the Hall of Fame as an Indianapolis Colt. The Broncos visit the Indianapolis Colts Sunday night for a clash of AFC heavyweights. Perfection is still a possibility for this Broncos team, and this game will be one of their toughest road tests this season. (The second of the three games I thought Denver could easily lose this season). Manning has never had any off-the field distractions, but come Sunday night, he will have 67,000 of them packing the seats at Lucas Oil Stadium. After he receives his pregame standing ovation, those fans who used to support him will be cheering against him.
A true master of his craft, Manning has devoted his life to this game we all love so much. His focus has never wavered, and his intense week-to-week preparation is unrivaled by anyone in the league. But how could Manning not be mentally affected by coming back to the city he called home for 14 years? I don’t care if he rattles off a couple of Super Bowls here at the end of his career with Denver, the man is a Colt, and will be remembered and revered as such. He can act like this is “just another game”, but we all know that is far from the truth. Manning will have an emotional homecoming in front of a national audience this Sunday night; however, don’t expect the Colts to roll out the red carpet for him.
Indy is fresh off one of its worst games in recent memory, during which its receivers suddenly forgot how to catch a football. The offense had a lot of issues against a Chargers defense that ranked 27th against the pass coming into the game. Many penciled in the Colts as a dark horse Super Bowl candidate after acquiring Trent Richardson (I think he is one of the NFL’s most overrated players, but that is an argument for another day). They will look to avenge their bad loss to San Diego with an upset win over the Broncos.
Manning was recently quoted as saying, “You have to draft Andrew Luck, you’re crazy if you don’t.” But the fact that Colts owner Jim Irsay told USA Today’s Jarrett Bell that he was disappointed about winning one Super Bowl during Manning’s stint in Indianapolis has to rankle Peyton, even though the QB has taken the high road by saying nothing in response to his former boss: http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nfl/broncos/2013/10/16/indianapolis-colts-peyton-manning-feelings-on-jim-irsay/2998183/.
Manning understands why he was let go, and the move has made sense for many different reasons. Luck is a great talent, and the Colts’ willingness to part with Manning is a huge testament to just how special the former Stanford star is. As a rookie last season Luck made the Pro Bowl, passed for more than 4,000 yards, and led the Colts to the playoffs.
Earlier this season, I said this would be one of the three hardest games Denver would play all season. If the Indy offense can get back on track, this will be a hotly contested fun one to watch. Luck’s receiving options need to make up for last week, and regain the trust of their young quarterback. There will be no shortage of drama in this one, with emotions running high, in what is most likely Peyton Manning’s last game in Indianapolis.