Since the Indianapolis Colts moved in to Lucas Oil Stadium in 2008, the building itself has featured murals of the team’s star players, a sort of current-roster ring of honor. Sometime in the next few weeks, a new mural will feature third-year quarterback Andrew Luck, joining Reggie Wayne, Robert Mathis and Adam Vinatieri. Some fans might wonder what took so long? Luck has been the face of the team since he arrived (maybe even longer, if you think back to the 2-14 “Suck for Luck” season prior to his official draft day). A look at the history of these murals reveal a little method to the team’s madness.
If you’ve ever been to Lucas Oil Stadium, you know the murals are impossible to miss. They’re sized at about 50 by 20 feet, prominently displayed on the north and south sides of the building. And, there are only four of them. When Lucas Oil Stadium first opened, the four murals belonged to Bob Sanders, Dwight Freeney, Marvin Harrison and, of course, Peyton Manning. Each of those men were key components of the Colts’ 2006 Super Bowl run. When Freeney and Manning left, the murals were used as humongous thank you notes from the city and the organization.
The Colts have not been in the habit of replacing murals while a featured player is still with the team. But, the few times a spot has opened up, the next man up has been pretty obvious. When Harrison left, Dallas Clark took his place. When Manning left, it was Wayne. Freeney’s departure gave Vinatieri a spot, which was nice because now the building features offense, defense and special teams, depicting the Colts’ balanced star power. When Sanders left, they seemed to have just raised a banner with a picture of a horseshoe in his place for awhile, which might be a play on all of the old “Superman wears Bob Sanders pajamas” jokes. I have no evidence to back that up.
Over time, that Sanders-Horseshoe spot on the south side of the stadium was replaced with a mural of Antoine Bethea. And now, since Bethea is leaving for the San Francisco 49ers and his banner has been transformed into another thank you card, Luck will soon be the official, undeniable face of the team. The timing is perfect. Luck has earned the spot. And, there’s a little bit of symbolism in that it’s not the exact same mural spot that Peyton Manning once occupied. It’s not even on the same side of the building.
We’ll have to wait until the mural is officially unveiled to see how exactly Luck will be portrayed for the heavy flow of traffic passing the stadium on I-70 every day. A lot of fans are hoping that it will be a freeze-frame of Luck’s “Superman” touchdown dive from last season’s playoffs (pictured above). Not a bad image to start your daily morning commute.