Peyton Manning: 4 Reasons Indianapolis Colts Retired His Number Way Too Early
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While the man was clearly a legend, especially for the Colts franchise and the city of Indianapolis, there are certain ways of doing things that are generally observed.
Obviously, Colts owner Jim Irsay lacks knowledge of a few of these things.
While cutting Manning was a mistake, retiring his number was simply confusing and awkward. It was the ultimate "it's me, not you" breakup.
It was a lot of things.
It Was Awkward and Forced
Jim Irsay didn't want to be the bad guy.
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Not only at the press conference itself, but all through the months leading up to it, Jim Irsay just seemed like he was being extremely indecisive.
He was the person who was in a bad relationship but didn't know how to tell the other person he didn't want to see them anymore.
That was the months leading up to the announcement.
At the announcement?
He was the guy who uses every cliche he can to try and soften to blow.
"The 18 jersey will never be worn again by a Colt on the field."
Sounds kind of like, "We had some good times, and I'll cherish our memories together."
"This process has been a long and difficult process."
Kind of like, "I've really thought about this a lot lately, and I'm not sure what to do."
"In the end, those circumstances were too difficult to overcome."
Which is reminiscent of, "We've been growing apart."
Jim Irsay needed to come out and say Manning wasn't returning as soon as the season ended. There was never any indication he was coming back, and his silence and refusal to make a decision led to false hope and, eventually, anger from the Colts fans.
Retiring Manning's jersey felt like an apology Irsay thought he had to make.
Even MJ didn't get his number retired immediately.
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Great players retire all the time. They are traded, cut, or leave in free agency. Even icons.
Guys like Michael Jordan. After "His Airness" first retired in October 1993, the Chicago Bulls retired his iconic No. 23.
More than a year later.
John Elway, Manning's new boss, is one of the closest examples to Manning.
Elway retired in May 1999. The Denver Broncos retired his jersey four months later during a Monday Night Football game.
Retiring a guy's playing number is something a franchise uses to perk up the fans after the fact. To say, "Yeah, we let Peyton go last spring. But guess what? We're going to retire his number now. Remember all the good times we had?"
Irsay wasted it by not allowing the announcement to sink in first.
Devalues Other Colts of the Peyton Manning Era
There were great players around Peyton, too.
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Contrary to what Jim Irsay may believe, Peyton Manning was not the only player on the Colts from 1998-2012.
The instant retirement of the No. 18 jersey puts a premium on Manning's career while saying the players around him weren't nearly as important.
While I'm certainly not disagreeing that Manning was the most important, I just want to point out that there were other likely future Hall of Famers around him.
The number one player I think it should bother is Marvin Harrison and his No. 88.
Harrison was the jelly to Manning's peanut butter. He holds numerous NFL records, including receptions in a season (143). He and Manning combined for the most touchdowns caught by a receiver from the same quarterback, and fellow wide receiver Reggie Wayne paired with Manning at No. 3 on that list.
Wayne still plays for the Colts—and his number may never be retired, anyway—but Harrison is at least the second-best Colts receiver of all time, and possibly the best. He retired two full seasons ago, but Irsay and the Colts haven't retired his jersey yet.
I wouldn't have thought anything of it if they hadn't retired Manning's jersey almost before even cutting him.
He Could've Signed with a Rival
Photo courtesy of Blacksportsonline.com.
Now that he's chosen the Denver Broncos, this is no longer an issue, but can you imagine if Manning had signed with the Tennessee Titans?
For the next few years, Colts fans would be reminded of what their team had let go and how good he still was—all while trying not to cry every time the young Andrew Luck threw an interception.
Now, I'm not saying Colts fans wouldn't still want No. 18 retired in Indy—in fact, I'm sure they would. However, Irsay could've waited until Manning was done beating the Colts up.
Irsay is lucky this will never be an issue because Colts fans would never forgive him.