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While Jim Irsay contemplates a place for Peyton Manning on his team’s roster and Manning himself ponders the best place to end his career, Colts fans have another dilemma.
Where does No. 18 belong in their hearts? Though I have a degree in psychology, I don’t pretend to totally understand what’s going on in the minds of the team’s faithful followers.
They profess to love Manning, and many will tell you it goes beyond his laser rocket arm and ability to rack up wins for the home team. They love him, they will tell you, as a person. They love his “Aw, shucks” persona, his humorous commercials and his charitable community work.
Yet many of those same fans—if pressed—will tell you they’d rather see Manning retire now as a Colt than take a single snap for another team.
I understand the pain of seeing your favorite player suiting up for a competitor, but I don’t understand wanting your cake and eating it too at the expense of the man who helped build this franchise over the last decade-plus.
The ideal scenario for fans of course is that Manning comes back for three more years, wins at least one more Super Bowl, while Andrew Luck sits quietly learning on the sidelines before stepping in for a seamless transition.
Read the above paragraph again and see how preposterous that sounds. No less than five dominos have to fall perfectly for that to happen.
If you really appreciate Manning the man and what he’s done for Indianapolis, why wouldn’t you be wishing him all the best in the future—no matter where that is?
If Manning had his wishes, he’d be back to 100 percent next August and would play another four, maybe even five, years. If you really like and appreciate him, you should want that for him.
Here’s the rub: If you wish that for Manning, you are basically wishing him away. Sitting the overall No. 1 draft pick a year or maybe two is plausible. Anything else, is unthinkable, and if Irsay tries it, it will cause an unhealthy situation for the team.
As much as Colts fans love to reference the Aaron Rodgers transition in Green Bay, it was a disaster. Yes, they did win a Super Bowl with Rodgers, but that was in spite of a rocky transition.
Brett Favre resented Rodgers from the beginning, probably felt pushed out to some degree, and when he tried to come back, Packers brass told him there was simply no room at the inn. Now Rodgers and Favre can’t hide their disdain for one another.
Meanwhile the Packers do a good job of talking out of both sides of their mouth. You think if the Packers had someone less able than Rodgers, they wouldn’t have welcomed Favre back—despite all his silliness—with open arms? You bet they would have.
A lengthy transition didn’t work in Green Bay with a superstar and budding talent, and it won’t work here.
So if you truly want what’s best for Manning, be prepared to say goodbye.
Look at it this way. Now you have two teams to cheer: the Colts and the team whose uniform Manning wears starting in 2012.
Pray, of course, the two teams never play each other in a big game.
But if they do, and Indy's former favorite son defeats your favorite horseshoe-clad team, take solace in your love for Peyton Manning and know that all your best wishes for him have come true.