This is an open letter to Jim Irsay. I'm mailing a copy to the Colts complex this morning.
It's been a hard week for all of us. I know you've been slammed by lots of people, and I'm sure that hurts. There's no doubt in my mind that you love Peyton and Indianapolis and that you did what you felt had to be done. It was a difficult decision, and you took a clear, definite path. I for one am thankful for that, even if it's not the path I would have wanted.
I'm writing you today because of something you mentioned in the press conference. You alluded to the fact that no one would ever wear 18 in Indianapolis again.
That's as it should be, of course.
The numbers 18 and 88 have been important to Colts fans for more than a decade now, and they hold special meaning to me. A few years ago, my younger brother chose them to be name of our website. They've become a part of my personal identity now. I had hoped to use them forever as a way of paying homage to the exploits of Peyton and Marvin.
After the events of this week, however, I feel that it's time to hang them up forever. I know you'll hoist 18 to the rafters one day, but I hope you retire 88 as well. Retire them both together. That's as it should be, I think. Keep those numbers sacred so no one ever forgets how those men played or what they did for the Colts and for city of Indianapolis.
People have talked about building a statue to Peyton in front of the Luke. When it comes time, consider having him in his throwing motion. Put another one 20 yards away of Marvin making his one handed catch.
I'm not going to use 18to88 any more. When people think of 18 and 88 they should only think of Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison. No one else should trade on those numbers. They belong solely to history now, and to all Colts fans.
I'm retiring them.
I hope the Colts follow suit.
Thanks for everything, Mr. Irsay.
Season Ticket Holder since 1997
Formerly of 18to88.com and @18to88
Great letter. I agree, retire both sacred numbers.
I don't get all the vitriol by Colt's fans lately. I had to move to Texas 7 year ago and my office is full of Colt's banners, posters, and Manning stuff--mostly Manning stuff. On Sundays I wear one of my many Colt's jerseys with pride--and mostly to spite all the obnoxious Cowboy fans out here. (Want to talk about organizational disfunction, look at Dallas not Indy.) Do you know how borring it is to watch Cowboy games on Sunday? It's like watching the 1980s Colts' games in the RCA Dome (which I did for many years as a kid).
Colts fans: calm the hell down. There is NO WAY the Colts would have won the division this season with Manning and all the cuts that had to be made...and these cuts HAD to be made. Does everyone in Indy seriously think a roster full of aging, often-hurt Colts players could compete against a younger and faster Houston? Even a hurt Houston roster was more competitive than the Colts were last season....why did the Texans make the playoffs without much help from Schaub, Mario, and Johnson but the Colts barely won 2 games without Manning? Youth, roster depth, and speed go far. Most of our former youth is now too old or too often hurt and our new youth lacks tallent...blame the last few years of the Polian drafts. We have no depth and no speed. Manning isn't getting stronger and faster after 4 neck surguies on his neck. This isn't Tom Brady's knee or Marino's leg in his early 30s.
If Colt's fans cannot understand the reality of cap money--that there is NO WAY we would keep everyone and draft new talent under the current cap chaos--then they will never understand the most compassionate thing Irsay could do was let 18 go to another team that could surround him with better playoff chances. I want Manning to have 2 more Superbowl wins. That will not happen in Indy for a few more years.
For a long time the football gods have punished the Colts for doing so well by giving us low draft choices. Now, fate has handed the Colts a change in fortune: good luck/Luck. The real vitriol should be Colts fans complaining against the NFL for how the draft is organized. Why should bad teams keep getting high draft tallent and better teams keep crossing their fingers on fifth rounds? Can't a round 1 pick 32 team get a round 3 pick 1? Why do bad teams keep getting pick 1 in every round? Thank the football gods rookies finally got cheaper.
Give the Colts 2 or 3 years and the glory will return...and Houston stopped. Payton will also return to have his name hoisted in the ring of honor. Eventually, we may run out of room when Wayne, Freeney, Clark, Saturday, and many others join the greatest (sorry Tom Terrific) QB of all time. Maybe he'll also return as a coach one day. Will Colt's fans still hate Irsay if that day happens, or be glad the parting was (mostly) civil?
I am conflicted on the decision to release Manning or rather not. In my opinion it was not the right move. If Manning really means everything that has been said to the Colts and the city of Indianapolis then shouln't he have been given a chance again to be a Colt (and trade away the #1 pick). I don't think Irsay cuts Manning if Indy did not have the #1 pick. He found the opportunity to take Luck, a player who is touted to be the next Manning, and he took it by moving away from the current best QB he has. For any other player, it is business, pro sports,etc. works but not for a person who changed the culture in Indiana, a player who changed the way QB position is played and who still has chance to come back and make any team competent enough to play in SB. I am sorry, may be it is the emotional side of me taking over, but you do not cut Manning who transitioned the team from the doormat of the NFL to one of the elites. You have faith in him, if he says he is ready to compete at the level a pro QB should then you give him that chance. I am disappointed that while Irsay had a chance to be a greater man, he did not do so and has instead decided to bet on a younger colt (no pun intended).
How could you be so civil to Irsay? He and his minions have destroyed our team in a matter of days. Everything Jim Irsay has today was either given to him by his father or earned by Payton. Irsay held the city hostage for a new stadium which we did not need and he's now sticking a huge middle finger in our eyes and you thank him. I don't understand at all....
Irsay made the tough calls. I was against half measures. If they weren't going to keep Peyton and trade the first overall pick, then blowing it up was the only choice.
Indy had to have a new stadium irrespective of the Colts. The Convention center was too small and they had to expand it into the space where the dome was.
John Mackey is the original #88. His impact on the NFL dwarfs Marvin's contribution, The greatest Tight End ever. First deep threat TE. In 2000 the Hall Of Fame players named him to their all-Time team as the one and only Tight End. He was also the first NFLPA president. This takes nothing away from Marvin who was as good as it gets for over a decade. His 143 catch season is a standard that will be hard to match. The number 88 should have been retired back in Baltimore. It definately requires retirement now. Marvin and Mackey, two of the best ever.
Colts Fanatic since 1969.
@DonnyU I'm well aware of Mackey's accomplishments, and they should have retired 88 long ago. They didn't. I don't care about "Colts history", only Indianapolis Colts history. No offense to anyone, it's just not of interest to me because of the way residents of Baltimore have acted.
Obviously, if Irsay retires 88, it will be for Mackey as well, but I'm not concerned with honoring him. Just Marvin. I have no attachment, emotional or otherwise to John Mackey, as amazing as he was.
Do also feel nothing for Lenny Moore, Raymond Berry, Gino Marchetti, Jim Parker, Buddy Young and Johnny Unitas. If so, perhaps you could write another heart felt letter to Mr. Irsay asking him to consider "Unretiring" their numbers so they can be issued to next year's rookies. I know all to well how deeply wounded the people of Baltimore are. Their anger and misplaced fury should have no bearing on your sense of pride in having had alltime great players as part of a glorious past for your beloved franchise. I made no knock on Marvin or Indy. (Mackey's NFL contributions do dwarf Marvins) I simply reinforced your point that it is high time #88 gets retired. I said Marvin was as good as it gets for over a decade. I hope he gets all he deserves. Hall of Fame, Statue, Retired Number and that his NFL records last for 50 years. Like Unitas' 47 Game TD passing Streak or Lenny Moores consecutive Game TD record. It's all "Colts History" and I cherish it all. I hope Andrew Luck becomes our 5th starting QB to win an NFL MVP and our 4th to finish a season as QB of an NFL Champion. If you don't embrace those proud acheivements, you're missing a piece of your foundation. Let Baltimore be bitter. They're allowed to be. But remember it has nothing to do with you, or the current Colts fan. They're like the guy whose pretty girlfriend ran off with some other dude in the middle of a snowy night. They're angry at the girl, not the guy. They will never forget it and they can never wish her or him happiness, but they'd happily take her back tomorrow.
@DonnyU Yes, I feel nothing for them.
Baltimore's history belongs to Baltimore and has zero to do with Indianapolis. I wrote the book on the history of the INDIANAPOLIS Colts. I don't care about the Baltimore Colts.
I don't celebrate them or feel anything for them.
They made it clear they belong to Baltimore and wanted nothing to do with Indy, so I respect that.
They refused to embrace Indy, so I don't embrace them. It wasn't just Baltimore that was bitter. It was the players themselves.
They chose this. I'm just respecting their wishes.
I fully agree with retiring Manning and Harrison simultaneously, unless Harrison is retired before. I'm uncertain if it's improper etiquette, but I wouldn't mind seeing 18 hanging up in the rafters even before he retires from the NFL altogether (hopefully still a ways off). Maybe at the time, we'll also be looking to retire 87, too? Though the statues should just be Manning to Harrison. Just my opinion. Would love to be able to sign that letter, as the person said below.
Does this mean you're 'The Zombie' now? DZ? Or are you actually going old school now and using your actual name? I'm on the edge of my seat in anticipation!?!
"No one else should trade on those numbers"
no one else should tread* just thought you might want to correct that before mailing it. nice piece, otherwise.
You could think about collecting signatures to send with the letter. I'm willing to bet a ton of people would sign on in solidarity. It would help show Irsay that ths is important to a large number of Colts fans
I think they should have Peyton passing to Marvin over the gates the visiting team enters through. I love the idea of having Peyton throwing to Marvin.
Also, every new Colts QB in Indianapolis should have to walk under the statue of Peyton Manning when they enter the Luke the first time. Not to intimidate them, but to remind them of the legacy they carry as a QB of this team.
@NateDunlevy PERFECT letter! Nobody could have written it better. I think it will happen. Nobody has worn 88 since he left.
@DougEngland I agree. obvioulsy.
@18to88 I actually wrote too quickly. What I should have said is that I am stunned they didn't retire 88 at the time of the induction ceromony. Don't know what the Colts policy is... but what could they possibly be waiting on? The only thing I can figure is that since John Mackey wore the number and they didn't reitre it for him.
@NateDunlevy great letter nate, never imagined a day when those two numbers would no longer bee a (cont) http://t.co/il4LzPKf
Thats what i like about reading your stuff Nate. You always seem to see what others don't. What a great idea to have both of them in front of the Luke. I hope he reads the letter and listens to your plead. Well said. By the way, its going to be a little strange seeing your name on everything :)
@NateDunlevy Well stated - so much talent in the last decade but I agree #18 and #88 were beyond special and deserve to recognized this way