Many posts have been written about Colts fans going through the stages of grief as we transition from the Manning era to the (presumed) Luck era. The notion is that with any loss, people go through some period of shock, denial, bargaining, acceptance, etc., until they can finally accept the change. There’s a little denial within the cycle itself – I have been telling myself for WEEKS that I’m square in the acceptance stage, but it hit me today that I’m still in bargaining, perhaps even denial or shock.
This picture is what jolted me into reality. Even though I saw the press conference introducing Manning as a Bronco(s), updates have been relatively limited compared to January and February, so I’ve been able to ignore reality… yup, denial. But here’s my attempt to at least move into bargaining…
I get that “you don’t cut a healthy Manning,” (and as I’ve mentioned before, I think Nate is making 2 distinct statements with that comment) but – and here’s the bargaining part – I also don’t think the Colts could have fielded a championship-caliber team had they kept him.
First, too many key players had suffered recent injuries, and didn't show promise of returning to peak performance for 2012. Joseph Addai, Gary Brackett, Melvin Bullitt, and Dallas Clark all missed a significant number of games during the last two years. Even if their contracts had been inexpensive – and they weren’t* – it may not have been worthwhile to keep them on the roster. As Dungy used to say, “The best ability is availability,” and while Addai was more available this year than last, it is telling that neither he nor any of the others listed have seemed to have generated much interest from other teams. Sadly, there are even rumors that Clark “is done.”
Second, there were too many own free agents to sign, and the Colts wouldn’t have been able to afford to “keep the gang together.” Going in to the offseason, they had 22 free agents, mostly journeymen. But the list also included Pierre Garcon, Robert Mathis, Jacob Tamme, Jeff Saturday and Reggie Wayne. Talk was that the Colts likely would have been able to re-sign 3 of these players (I think Saturday would have given the team a hometown discount, and Tamme might have done the same), but it seemed unlikely they would re-sign 4, let alone 5. They probably could have re-signed Ryan Diem and Anthony Gonzalez had Manning returned, but Diem was slowing and Gonzalez may have preferred a fresh start with a new team. Combined with the losses / declining capabilities of Addai and Clark, this represented as many as half – the better half – of Manning’s familiar protection and weapons.
Finally, while either working with an aging offensive core or getting used to a new group, Manning would have had to score enough to overcome a defense in flux. The 2011 Colts ranked 25th in overall defense, (15th in passing, 29th in rushing), had fired the defensive coordinator after Week 12, and had over $31MM tied up in 5 defensive players, not including Brackett, Bullitt and Mathis. Brackett and Bullitt would add another $11MM. That was 35% of the 2012 cap dedicated to 13% of the roster, and included 2 injured players, and 2 players who still need to prove themselves (Hughes and Moala). In retrospect, Mathis would have added another ~$9MM. While I don’t question the strategy to pay the top-tier players the most money, it does expose the team to the risk of injury (see: Manning, Peyton) and/or underperformance (see: Simon, Corey).
To play devil’s advocate, Manning is a transcendent player and could have overcome much of what the Colts were facing. He was accustomed to carrying the team on his shoulders – perhaps best evidenced by the 2011 season itself. But the likely losses of key players on the offense, combined with questions on the defense and the cap situation, might have resulted in a multi-year reload effort, wasting valuable time on the back end of Manning’s career. On the other hand, trying to keep everyone together might have hamstrung the team into a few one-playoff-game-and-done years, or worse, a few 8-8 years. While I will probably remain in the early stages of grief until Manning is inducted in the Hall of Fame, and I desperately wish the team could have found a way to retain him and a core group of players, I can still convince myself that the team will be able to survive his loss.
*2012 cap hits: Addai - $4.76MM; Brackett - $7.4MM; Bullitt - $3.74MM; Clark - $8.05MM
Good call on that photo. Somehow, seeing him in casual Broncos attire makes it seem even more real than the 'for show' aspects of the press conference. There's "our quarterback", doing all his normal off-season stuff, but doing it somewhere and for someone else.
I was driving up Keystone last night, running errands, and I saw young Peyton Manning looking over his shoulder smiling from a billboard. "Thanks for the memories." I gave a respectful toot of the horn, and felt it all over again for a minute. More billboards. A Parade. A statue. I count myself among those who think this team will overcome the loss. But I am not done saying goodbye.
I understand your reasoning, Laura. Things might turn out well for the Colts (let´s hope Luck is good. Real good.), and Peyton might have the postseason success he deserves, with one or two SB wins, cimenting forever his place as GOAT, as Elway intends. So as long as those hopes remain, it makes sense to entertain the notion that maybe things turned out for the best, and that maybe the Colts with Peyton wouldn´t have been as great as they needed to be. It´s not completely provable either way. But what I do know is that for Peyton, leaving the Colts, not playing out his entire career with one team, was traumatic. After reading King´s account, I was just stunned to discover how deeply he was mourning the loss of his attachment to one team´s fans, to one city.
And so I won´t ever be able to see this as merely a business decision, even if it can be construed as a reasonable one. Peyton Manning was the Colts´ QB for 13 years, and he wanted to stay that way for his entire career. The Colts decided this wouldn´t be so. I might be able to forgive this (it´s not that there´s something to forgive per se) if things turn out well, but I will never stop lamenting it, as a Colts fan AND as a Manning fan. The road not taken will forever lie before us, one brightened by snapshots of Peyton in blue and white on a podium, surrounded by his teammates, hoisting the Superbowl trophy and smiling under the watchful eyes of one Bill Polian, shrewd enough to turn the n1 pick into 5 more years of greatness, and giving the world a window into rare, uninterrupted football bliss.
Dudes and dudettes, Manning was a Colts and brought us much pride and joy. I for one intend to follow him as a Bronco, and support the Colts. With your permission, I may post some articles about him as a Bronco. Maybe contrast his style with his while on the Colts. I was thrilled to see Brandon Stokely join the Broncos. Always liked that guy!
I doubt 2012 would have been a Super Bowl run if we'd kept Peyton, but I do think we'd have had a good shot for one by 2013 and 2014. Key is that keeping Peyton would have allowed us to trade the #1 pick. All those extra draft picks would have accelerated the rebuilding process. Only way this was a good move is either if Peyton really isn't as healthy as we're hearing from Denver or the Colts are very confident that Andrew Luck is a future hall of famer.
I am one that was torn with all the changes going on. And they aren't necessarily related. I will always miss Peyton as our QB. But I was actually sick of the whole structure and game plan. I felt Jim Caldwell had no business being an NFL head coach. Bill Polian is a great judge of talent, but he was close to retirement and Chris was doing more of of the day to day activities, which I thought was not good. I got so tired of no running attack, inability to stop the run, 10 yard cushions on defense, and a team that paid most of its money in about 8 players. So I was very sad to see Peyton go, but not for the overall change. So I am very optimistic about the new setup. Pagano can't be possibly be worse than Caldwell. Grigson, I like how he picks up mid level free agent talent with still younger guys for the most part. I hope the Luck lead Colts are far more balanced then what Peyton had the last 5-6 years.So for me, everything is looking forward and being excited
This is a very good article and all of the points are spot on. Good and bad things happen all of the time and the only way to get past them is to move on. Far to often the media continues to beat a "dead horse" which in turn makes it difficult to move on. Manning is a very good quarterback and probably even a better person. He was not the Colts, the Colts have been around since 1953 and have had many successes since the beginning. If you are a Colts fan route for them, if you are a Manning fan then go route for him and whatever team he may play for. This is going to be an exciting year for Colts fans. We have an all new coaching staff, a new general manager, many new players and anew quarterback. Sure it is different, but it is going to be exciting. The "Glass is not half empty!". Go Colts.
I am obviously not in charge of the editorial content of Colts Authority.
And as it says right there in the title, this is a Colts blog. And as the Colts QB, Andrew Luck deserves and should get our full support.
However, I think this site should rethink it's stance on #18. I know that the popular responce is that if you still care so much about Peyton Manning you are really not a Colts fan. I understand this... but my responce would be that Peyton is just different. He just is. He is special.
Consider this... #18 didn't play a down in 2011. He plays five years for the Broncos, wins at least one more Super Bowl, maybe another MVP and breaks all Favre's records. Then the mandantory five year waiting period... that would mean on the day of his Hall of Fame induction it would be 11 years since he last took a snap as a Colt.
11 years of great Andrw Luck play as the Colts QB. (Fingers crossed.)
Manning should not be taboo here. He should continue to still be celebrated.
@DougEngland For me, the topic of Manning isn't taboo, but we are trying to focus more on the present / future of the Colts than the past. I've noticed even the Indy Star continues to run Manning stories at about the same rate it runs current Colts stories... I suspect it will take us all a long time before a complete adjustment is made... and even then Manning will continue to be an important part of the team's and city's heritage.
But for example, Greg jokes on the Pancakes podcast about not talking about #18.
And Florio and another "prominent" Colts website take shots at Peyton for his motives behind his private phone calls to certain members of the local Colts media (especially Phil B.) and no one defends Peyton here.
I guess my real problem is that I now have to go to other sources to get my Peyton news and don't have the comfort of dealing with my favorite writers and posters here at Colts Authority.
@pierrezombie But towards the field. That´s all that matters. I´m sooo looking forwards to next season. Can it be September already?
@Goéland Holy cow, that would be so great! I was hoping either you or DougE would volunteer for the job so I wouldn't have to. I will absolutely hold you to it, and will be first to chime in each week. Also, if the Authoritarians make the staggeringly bad mistake of not recruiting you to do this, it could always go in the Reader Blog section, right? p.s. You totally nailed it with your new avatar. #18, walking away from us.
@pierrezombie pierrezombie, I don´t know what my availability will be like (might be out of the house constantly), but if I can, and if ColtsAuthority allows it, I´ll be writing Peyton recaps weekly. I´m promising it now so you hold me to it, just so you know.
In fact, I'd be happy with an open thread (Peyton Manning: Still a Bronco). Of course, I could go prattle on about him on Broncostalk.net or something, but I'd much rather do it with the people here who've loved him since forever, want to see him cement his legacy as the GOAT, and aren't harboring secret doubts about whether they really should have traded Tebow.
@DougEngland @Kyle Rodriguez @LovinBlue I would love a weekly story about Manning this coming season here. While I understand how that's out of the editorial scope of the site, as DougE said, he's kind of a special case. I mean, if you're ever going to make an exception... Right?
@Kyle Rodriguez I, of course, totally agree with you. And if a person (i.e. Florio, etc) wants to make an idiot of himself, sometimes it is best to just keep quiet and let him.
(Good closing line by the way.)
@DougEngland @LovinBlue Quite frankly, Peyton didn't need defense of his phone calls. It was a classy move and everyone appreciated it but people looking for a story to stir people up. Those who took shots at him for it did so on no grounds of evidence, but speculated based on faulty logic. It didn't require a rebuttal, because the original argument was as weak as Keyunta Dawson playing nose tackle.
@DougEngland Doug, I think most, if not all, of the writers for CA certainly agree with you. Manning IS special, and should be celebrated and remembered as a Colt. I don't think any of us would say that if you care about him you're no longer a true Colts fan. As Colts fans, we always put the team in front of individual players, but you know that everybody wants him to have success in Denver. Manning isn't taboo (heck I wrote a post last week about his clutch play), but we're not going to update on his every move. Certainly, things like broken records and whatnot will be things Colts fans want to hear, but as a Bronco, the vast majority of coverage is going to pertain to Broncos fans, not Colts fans.
To your point about winning...
We'll never know, but I do believe that Peyton really did want to stay with the Colts and he would have been willing to take less money to do it.
I believe #18 is going to play at least five more years. And i think he will play at a very high level. He loves it that much.
And considering what the Redskins got for the #2 pcik, who knows what the Colts could get for the #1. This would have enabled the Colts to reload quickly and if not in 2012, certainly in 2013 be a serious threat.
Laura, you've said on the "Check It To Pancakes" podcast that you haven't been able to watch the Manning press conference. Yet, in this post you say you have seen it. So I'm not sure which is the case. (Maybe you've just seen parts of it.) But, regardless, you have to watch it. Yes, you will tear up. Esepcially when he says "I have truly loved being YOUR QB". Not the Colts QB, but your QB. And he was our QB. He was certainly my QB.
And he always will be.
I am at the acceptance stage... I've accepted that I will never care as much about football again. I will continue to watch every Colts game and hope for the best. And now, I will watch every Bronco game and hope that Peyton wins another Super Bowl.
But it will not be the same. I will no longer fret over losses for weeks or months. (Or in the case of the Super Bowl with the Saints... forever.) Perhaps this is for the best. Besides Family and friends, no one should be so emotionally invested in anything as i was with the Peyton Manning led Indy Colts.
@DougEngland Thanks Doug - just to clarify, I watched the p.c. announcing his signing with the Broncos, not the p.c. announcing his release. I can't get myself to watch it, and probably won't until long after he retires, if at all.
It is hard. Maybe wait till we pick Luck, if that will help. You will get emotional most likely, but when I watched it, I was damn proud and amazed at how emotional Manning got. I assumed Irsay would be a blubbering fool up there, but Manning really did get choked up a couple of times. It was great to see one more piece of evidence about how much Manning cared.
@LovinBlue I understand your reluctance, but I really would watch it if I were you. For someone who cares as much as you do, it will be emotional. And you will cry.
But as always, Peyton is so good. And he says all the right things, exactly in the right way.(And delivered in a sourthern drawl no less.)
It is cathartic more than anything.
I feel very similar. I know he's gone, and in the long run it's probably best. I do also feel that it would have been VERY difficult to "rebuild" as they are doing now with Manning. Even the one year clear out (which looks like what they are trying to do) would have pissed him off.