For three days ESPN’s Mike Greenberg and a host of other TV commentators have been screaming that without Peyton Manning there is no Lucas Oil Stadium and there is no Indianapolis Colts.
And therefore there is no 2012 Super Bowl in Indianapolis.
Greenberg, who apparently is quite the Indianapolis and NFL historian, insists that without No. 18, the team owned by Jim Irsay would now be the Los Angeles Colts.
I guess Greenberg and his colleagues forgot that Indianapolis leaders long ago pegged a growth strategy on sports, and that the RCA Dome was built even before the city had secured an NFL franchise.
Apparently it slipped Greenberg’s mind that Indianapolis took a run at the 1992 Super Bowl and if not for a late political play by Minneapolis and NFL officials, likely would have landed that game.
Or maybe Greenberg and his posse know better than I. I’ve only lived here for 45 years. What do I know?
Maybe Manning and his magical powers somehow helped attract the National Sports Festival here in 1982 or the Pan Am Games to Indianapolis in 1987. Maybe as a child, Manning called local leaders and told them to build one of the finest swimming facilities in the U.S. and one of the world’s fastest running tracks on the IUPUI campus, both of which have attracted myriad national and world-class events.
For all I know, Manning was front and center in helping Indianapolis land the 2002 World Basketball Championships or negotiating the move of the NCAA headquarters to the Circle City in 1999.
I’m dead certain Manning was responsible for helping the city land a cadre of national governing bodies like USA Gymnastics and USA Track & Field. He must have been. How else could little old Indianapolis have accomplished such a thing?
I guess Manning too must be responsible for the growth of the Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Association and the strategy to transform this city into a convention town rivaling the likes of Atlanta and Chicago. No, wait. That strategy pre-dates Manning’s birth.
Someone might tell Greenberg and his colleagues that part of the plan for a new football stadium here had a lot to do with the need for more room for an expanded convention center.
I'm not even going to go into the complexities of the L.A. market. But someone might remind Greenberg that even after years of trying, the City of Angels still doesn't have a suitable NFL venue. And the fan base there is fickle at best.
Did Manning help the Colts go through an unprecedented period of growth? Yes. Was he instrumental in the Colts winning the 2007 Super Bowl? No doubt. This year has made that more clear than ever.
Did his leading the Colts to a decade of triumph help make the Lucas Oil Stadium and Indiana Convention Center expansion plan more publicly palatable? I’m quite certain of that.
But to insinuate that local leaders couldn't have found some creative way of keeping the Colts here—and continue on the path that started more than three decades ago—without Manning is pretty insulting to everyone who calls this city home.
To quote Greenberg’s broadcast partner, Mike Golic, “Stop it! Just stop it!”