Colts without Peyton? Brace Yourself

Posted on September 6, 2011


It is nothing short of unthinkable.

Peyton Manning, who has been under center for the

208 and no longer counting

Photo Courtesy of: Football Babble

Indianapolis Colts for thirteen years – that’s 208 consecutive games – will most likely be standing on the sideline this Sunday, watching someone else take snaps for his team.

The four-time NFL MVP is still recovering from offseason neck surgery, and Colts GM Bill Polian revealed today that Manning will not practice this week and will be listed as “doubtful” on the team’s injury report.

If Peyton Manning the Colts quarterback was a Jewish baby, he would be celebrating his Bar Mitzvah.

The notion of the future Hall-of-Famer not calling the plays on Sunday is enough to make Colts fans – and NFL fans – shiver. Indeed, nothing is worse for the game than the absence of one of the greatest players in its history. NFL Fans will feel it just as much as the Colts faithful.

Unfortunately, 2011 may mark more than the end of the longest active Ironman streak in the NFL, and the second in NFL history, behind Brett Favre.

Manning’s injury is very concerning, and there’s no telling how much time he’ll miss; it could be anywhere from Week 1 to – gulp – the entire season.

The injury is especially untimely, considering the 5-year, $90M contract Manning signed this summer that will pay him at least $26.4M in 2011, according to Pro Football Talk.

After months of speculation and back-and-forth regarding Manning’s playing status, the truth has finally come to light. It’s bad. It’s worse than we thought. It could be the beginning of the end of the Manning era.

The  Colts knew this day would come, but who could have guessed it would be so soon? The 35-year old passer ranked in the top two in yards, touchdowns, completions, and completion percentage in 2010. He displayed no signs of slowing down, despite underachieving in the playoffs – but that was to be expected of Manning’s Colts, who did not make it past the first round of the postseason in three out of the last four years.

For years, after another Manning highlight-reel performance, analysts on post-games shows would make the following iteration: the Colts are a 6-10 team without Peyton Manning. Every preseason they struggle, and injuries have plagued them of late.

But who really knows how good the regular season Colts would be without their leader? Will the Peyton-less Colts’ offense remain potent under Kerry Collins? How long will he be out? Is this the beginning of the demise for Manning? Or will we see a brief hiatus that the Colts survive, before returning business as usual in 2012, ala Tom Brady’s ACL tear?

Time will tell. No one knows what the future holds for Peyton Manning and the Colts.

But as we get set to kick off another NFL season, there will be a sour note in the air Sunday afternoon that has nothing to do with the date.

Let’s just hope it doesn’t last.

-Elliot Heller