When a superstar athlete leaves a franchises he has a history with, it’s a lot like going through a divorce.
Both relationships usually begin to sour well before the decision is made, and unfortunately in both cases, amicable splits are very hard to come by.
Usually there’s someone to blame.
Not so in the case of Peyton Manning versus the Indianapolis Colts, who officially parted ways on March 7 but did so in the classiest of possible ways, honoring the partnership both were able to sustain for almost 15 years and ensuring in the process that no hard feelings would be harbored from either side as they went their separate ways.
The irreconcilable differences between Manning and Colts owner Jim Irsay had been slowly building ever since Indianapolis secured the No. 1 pick in the 2012 draft late last year, and even though those differences arose through no fault of either party, the challenges they created were staggering nonetheless.
Manning is entering the final stage of his NFL journey. The Colts, meanwhile, are just now embarking on a brand new one, their hand all but forced after years of mismanagement that finally reached a tipping point last season. This was never going to work, and considering how quickly they were both able to accept that reality and deal with it, this once unthinkable breakup should actually come as a sad but welcome relief.
Just because the duo’s final act was executed so maturely does not mean the necessary adjustments still to come will be any easier for either to enact, however, and for the legions of shell-shocked Colts fans caught in the middle specifically, the transition could be awfully rough.
The last time Indy’s roster didn’t have Peyton Manning on it, Bill Clinton was president and Tim Tebow, the celebrated third-year quarterback Manning will be replacing in Denver next season, was in elementary school.
Many Colts fans either weren’t alive or have no memory of what the team was like before No. 18 arrived, and even those who do have become so accustomed to Manning’s magic touch that a return to the good old days now seems virtually inconceivable.
Peyton Manning is all Colts fans know. Playoff runs. Win streaks. All-time records. There’s a good chance those thrills are now just a thing of the past, at least for the immediate future, and there’s a good chance the fanbase that just came to expect those kinds of results week after week will have a rude awakening coming soon once a completely new team takes the field next season.
Colts fans need to brace themselves for what’s coming now and, more importantly, they need to figure out a way to put the Peyton Manning era behind them for good as soon as possible.
In this guide we’ll examine how they can do just that.