But as Manning prepares to celebrate another birthday and creep one year closer to that 40-year-old mark, his time to ignite a dynasty is starting to close.
And just like Peyton, the rest of the core group of Colts is beginning to lose the ultimate battle with age.
Everyone knows that statistically, the Colts have a young roster. In fact they have one of the youngest rosters in the NFL. But the star power that propelled this team to dominance year-in and year-out are aging.
And it is those aging players that could signify the demise to Indy’s dominance. Take the leader of the Colts offensive line.
Center Jeff Saturday can retire at anytime. Sure, he probably has two maybe three more years left, but as was apparent in 2008, his body will not live up to the same torture as in years’ past.
When Saturday went down last year, the Colts did not look the same. That problem was more than cosmetic and it cost the Colts several losses. Indianapolis hasn’t typically been a team to lose to Chicago, Jacksonville, and Green Bay. And let’s not forget the Colts needing late game heroics against Minnesota and Houston to propel the Colts to the playoffs.
So with injuries to Saturday and company, coupled with the aging roster, Indianapolis won’t be the same this year as they were a year ago.
Besides Saturday, future hall of fame receiver Marvin Harrison is gone. Now some could argue that he was actually gone for some time now, but he will be missed in 2009. It is hard to replace a Jerry Rice-type talent in the wide receiving corps.
Although still on the roster, one would think receiver Reggie Wayne should show signs of slowing down as he gets another year older. Helping on the receiver corps is former Ohio State standout Anthony Gonzalez, who has shown brilliance, but isn’t the same caliber as Harrison or Wayne.
Then on the other side of the ball, DT Dwight Freeney is suffering the same loss to age as the rest of the stars. Offensive lines are catching up and starting to slow the twisting and turning Freeney down.
Compounding the problem is the unreliability of former defensive player of the year Bob Sanders. Sanders seemingly spends more time off the field nursing an injury than he does actually contributing. No one is denying his ability, but when he is off the field, Indy isn’t the same.
Just as Indy is getting older, the rest of the NFL is getting younger. And that could be the most important cog that keeps the Colts from playing on Super Sunday in 2009 or any other year in the near future.