Indianapolis, IN- Perhaps one of the biggest games in NFL history will take place at Lucas Oil Stadium Sunday night when the undefeated Denver Broncos (6-0) travel to take on the Indianapolis Colts (4-2). This game is more than just a typical primetime matchup or a game that could decide playoff seeding down the road; it features Peyton Manning against his old team.
Manning was with the Colts 14 seasons and led them to become one of the most dominant franchises over those years. Prior to Manning’s arrival in 1998 Indiana was known to be a basketball and racing state. Football was an afterthought.
Manning changed that as Indiana became a diehard football state. No longer was the stadium in Indianapolis filled with opposing teams’ jerseys, but it was Manning’s and the rest of the group that filled gameday in a sea of blue. He led the Colts for the 2007 Super Bowl title and a repeat trip to the biggest game in 2010.
He also broke a ton of NFL records while a Colt. He was the first to win four league MVP awards, an 11-time Pro Bowler while in Indy, a five-time All Pro 1st team, a six-time AFC Offensive Player of the Year, the 2005 Pro Bowl MVP, and the 2007 Super Bowl MVP to go along with many other awards.
He also holds a lot of other in-game records including most seasons with 4,000+ passing yards, most games with 40+ pass attempts, most consecutive seasons with 25+ passing touchdowns, most passing touchdowns in a decade, most passing yards in a decade, most completions in a decade and again countless other records.
Now, this quarterback comes to town on a different team. He was let go by the Colts after all those successful years for essentially last year’s No. 1 draft choice, Andrew Luck. After speaking to several sources, including one member of the coaching staff who Manning holds in high regard, it was all unanimous that they said he was somewhat hurt by the decision and when asked if he’d ever come back to Indy after his playing career was over they all said, “No.”
So when Manning takes to the field Sunday night it’s going to be very awkward. Most of the time the crowd is wild and nuts, cheering very loudly and sometimes inappropriately towards the visiting team especially their signal caller. How weird is it going to be to get loud against a player fans still hold in high regard?
For many years Manning trained the fans to be so quiet you could hear a pin drop when he was on offense and get deafeningly loud when the Colts were on defense. Now, it’s time to be very loud when Manning is on the field with so much on the line.
Overall, this is going to be a very tough game. Many fans still wear Manning’s old No. 18 Colts jersey to the stadium and in fact wear his Broncos jersey to some games. That how highly touted he still is here in Indy. Now, it’s time to wish for the worst on him for one game and cheer very loud against him. It won’t be easy.
Eric Smith is the Colts Beat Writer for Rant Sports. He’s covered the team the past four seasons and is recognized as an accredited member of the media by the Colts. Follow him on Twitter @ericsportsguru