The seemingly impossible occurred in Indianapolis. The idea that Peyton Manning would ever be anything other than an Indianapolis Colt was inconceivable. Why would he ever leave ? How could the Colts ever let him go ? As was to be expected, Colts fan are taking this hard. If they are not at least saddened by this development, they are furious with Jim Irsay for his apparent disloyalty to their hero. Some fans, while devastated, are planning to soldier on in support of the Horseshoe. Others, are angrily declaring allegiance to Peyton and his new team, the Denver Broncos. There is no denying the impact of Peyton Manning on the Colts team or the Indianapolis community. No one has ever heard of Peyton being less than cordial to fans and his generosity is celebrated to the point of having a hospital named after him. He has never been mentioned in any type of scandal and his rap sheet is clean. He has become a hero and a legend in these parts.
As I’ve stated in the past, I feel like players come and go. I’m not an Indianapolis Colts fan. I’ve been a Raiders fan since I was ten years old. Back when Ken Stabler was studying the playbook by the light of the jukebox and Fred Biletnikoff was covering his jersey with stickem. So, I wasn’t going to abandon the Silver and Black just because Robert Irsay left Baltimore for Indianapolis in the middle of the night. It was the greatest getaway since Clint Eastwood in “ Escape From Alcatraz “, but I still supported Oakland. Through some dismal seasons too, I might add.
Since I’m not a Colts fan ( I’m not a hater, though ), I can only liken it to if Derek Jeter would, for whatever insane reason, leave the Yankees for another team. I would be crushed. Extremely angered that the baseball Gods would deal me this blow. I would not, however, under any condition, not even under threat of unbearable torture by Jack Bauer, disavow my support of the Yankees !
I’ve enjoyed a few games at Wrigley Field throughout the years, and I’ve always admired the loyalty of Chicago Cubs fans. They have endured over a hundred years of heartbreak and yet remain loyal to their Cubs. In a situation akin to that of the Colts, how about Albert Pujols leaving the Cardinals for sunny California ? Although his leaving was devastating for fans, I didn’t hear any reports of mass dissension and hysteria in St. Louis.
I have an acquaintance who was widely known as an avid I.U. fan during the Bob Knight era. We all know the basketball program was dealt a severe blow after Kelvin Sampson was caught illegally recruiting (again), a few years after Knight left for Texas Tech. I, being a UK fan, reveled in their misfortune. When teased about I.U.’s poor record, she replied, “Well, we don’t really follow them much anymore…we’re Colts fans now.“ What ?? I knew then what a fair-weather fan this woman was. Incidentally, guess who I just heard is not going to renew their Colts season ticket package next year ? Yep, you guessed it.
Everyone is free to root for their favorite players and teams as they see fit. That’s what makes sports so much fun. The rivalries and the trash talking among opposing sides. The camaraderie and friendship among fellow fans. If you decide to root for the Denver Broncos next year, because Peyton is their QB, that makes you a big Peyton Manning fan. But you were never a Colt fan. Not in my book.