While never being part of the franchise, longtime Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning has become a an important component of recent New England Patriots history. The teams have squared off in pivotal regular season games, AFC Championships, and are both perennial playoff contenders. The Brady vs. Manning debate is one for the ages. Win or lose, Manning was always a worthy opponent.
But Peyton Manning leaving the Indianapolis Colts is the end of an era. Manning has done much to build the statdium and team he has faithfully quarterbacked for fourteen years. When healthy, he is one of the few elite quarterbacks in the NFL. On the one hand, I understand that these decisions are business. Manning wants to make money, start, and win another Super Bowl ring; the Colts don’t want to miss an opportunity on a number-one pick or tie up too much salary cap space on one position. Yet you’d like to think these things go beyond business and football fans are rooting for people, not jerseys.
With at least two AFC East teams listed as potential suitors, Manning’s history with the Patriots could well continue and even intensify. But his time as the face of the Indianoplis franchise, during which he was a pillar of the community and a class act, has come to an end.
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